Jacobin Winds: Chief Justice James Kent and the Origins of the Citizenship Prerequisite for Admission to the New York Bar

This article was written by Craig A. Landy, a partner at NYC firm Peckar & Abramson, PC. Mr. Landy talks more extensively about this interesting and currently relevant topic in Issue 11 of The Historical Society of the New York Courts’ Judicial Notice, a journal of articles of historical substance and scholarship that uniquely focuses on New York legal history. This latest issue of Judicial Notice is ready to be shipped out and is only available to Society Members. Don’t miss out and become a member by clicking on the following link: Join the Society.

Photo: The United Irish Patriots of 1798. Thomas Addis Emmet is the fourth figure from right. Unknown artist, colored lithograph, 1798 or after. © National Portrait Gallery, London

Irish republicanism was born in the 1790s when the Society of United Irishmen sought French military support to overthrow English rule in Ireland. When that movement failed, its former leaders were imprisoned, banished and later scattered in exile across Europe and America, many landing in New York City. Their arrival sparked a nativist reaction, especially among members of the Federalist Party, who tried to limit the political mischief that they feared deported Irish revolutionaries could get into in New York.

Chief Justice James Kent, one of the few Federalists on the New York Supreme Court in the early 1800’s, branded as “Jacobins” all those who followed the French and led the effort to prevent former United Irishmen barristers from practicing law in New York, at least until they became U.S. citizens (a wait of up to five years). Continue reading

Emergence of the Common Law, the Anglo-Saxon Dooms, 601-1020 AD: The Dooms of the Kingdom of Wessex, Part 3

The Dooms of Ethelred (978-1016 A.D.)

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Ethelred II

The thirty-eight year reign of Ethelred II is the first for which we have contemporary manuscripts containing the text of the Dooms. The king issued two sets, one known as the Woodstock (or Anglo-Saxon Dooms) (V Æthelred) and the other as the Wantage Code (III  Æthelred).  Both were promulgated around 997.

The Anglo-Saxon Dooms (V Æthelred), possibly issued at a meeting of the royal council at Woodstock, continued the expansion of the Crown’s legal and fiscal rights with enactments relating to currency reform, “heregeld” (a tax on the population to support the war against the Danes), and other monetary provisions.  The Dooms mandated that all fines payable to the king’s reeve (sheriff) must go directly to the king (in every burh, and in every shire, shall I have the dues of my kingship, as my father had).

Wulfstan, Archbishop of York, committed the Woodstock Dooms to writing for the memory of posterity, and the benefit of men, now and in the future.   Bear in mind, however, the late Anglo-Saxon scholar Patrick Wormald’s caution that:the King’s Word had permanent significance but only within the limitations of any verbal communication: that is, absolute integrity was dependent upon memory, and was subject, as such, to adjustment, both conscious and subconscious.  Written legislation was a useful aid to memory, and sometimes an impressive manifestation of the civilized status of its royal author, but it was not binding, like modern statute law. Continue reading

An Evening of Law, Entertainment, Music, and Readings

This entry was written by Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt, President of The Historical Society of the New York Courts. Judge Rosenblatt will be one of the presenters at next week’s event Litigation & Literature in the N.Y. Courts: Shaw, Shakespeare, and Sherlock on Wednesday, February 17 at 6 p.m. at The New York City Bar Association. Click here to register for this free event: http://bit.ly/litigation-literature. (CLE credit available to members of the Society)

In the world of literature, three of the most widely read are Shaw, Shakespeare, and Sherlock (Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes).

In researching whether there has been litigation associated with them, we, The Historical Society of the New York Courts, learned that the works of all three have been the subject of lawsuits of one kind or another, and so it seemed entirely apt to put on a program entitled Litigation and Literature featuring the legal disputes that surrounded these works.

Considering the long reach of these three writers, it seems entirely likely that disputes would arise over performances, rights, and contracts. We thought it would be enjoyable to plan and present an evening in which an entertainment law expert, Carol Kaplan, would discuss the litigation surrounding My Fair Lady, and with it a clip of Julie Andrews singing “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly”; Dan Kornstein, a lawyer and Shakespeare writer discuss The Bard, the litigation surrounding a staging, and some carefully chosen Shakespearean segments, and a description of the life and times of Sherlock Holmes – and the litigation over rights to the stories.

Best of all, the readings will be done by the eminent actor Paxton Whitehead, who has played or produced or directed plays by Shaw, Shakespeare, and Sherlock (Doyle).

Elizabeth Jennings and the Desegregation of Public Transportation in New York City

In 1852, the Third Avenue Railroad Company obtained a franchise to construct and operate a street railway service in parts of Manhattan. The company installed steel rails in the surface of some Manhattan streets and, in July 1853, began a streetcar service consisting of carriages pulled along these rails by horses. Passengers could board or leave the carriages at various points along the route.  Some carriages carried a placard “Colored Persons Allowed,” but these carriages ran infrequently and African-Americans were often permitted to board the general streetcars at the discretion of the driver and conductor, provided none of the other passengers objected.

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Elizabeth Jennings Graham

On July 16, 1854, a 24 year old African-American school teacher named Elizabeth Jennings and her friend, Sarah Adams, were on their way to church when they hailed a Third Avenue Railroad Company streetcar.  It did not have a placard, and the women were immediately challenged by the conductor.  Elizabeth refused to disembark and the streetcar continued on its route until the conductor sighted a police officer and requested his assistance. Between them, the two men roughly removed Elizabeth from the streetcar, and she found herself on the sidewalk with her “bonnet smashed and her dress soiled.” Continue reading

Notes from South Africa: Reflections on Judge Kaye & Legal Reform

Today we are launching a new feature on our blog. Penelope (Penny) Andrews, our Trustee (2013-2016) and continuing Trustee Emeritus, has moved back to her homeland of South Africa to assume the position of Dean, Faculty of Law, University of Cape Town. Penny is the school’s first black dean, This follows another “first” for her; prior to assuming this position, Penny was the first female Dean of NY’s Albany Law School. She is a true pioneer with a fascinating story of how she rose in the era of apartheid to become a distinguished lawyer and educator. Here are her thoughts on another noble “first,” Hon. Judith S. Kaye.

Marilyn Marcus Executive Director

(NOTE: This article first appeared in South Africa’s Business Day)

I assumed the position of dean of the University of Cape Town (UCT) faculty of law earlier in January, the school’s first dean who is black. In this capacity, as a woman, I am joining an ever-increasing number of women and people of colour who have the status of being “a first”.

I came of age as a lawyer in SA during the dark days of apartheid. I left SA during the 1980s, an inexperienced, concerned yet optimistic young lawyer. I return to SA with three years of experience as the first female president and dean of New York’s Albany Law School (founded in 1861), and decades of experience as a professor of law at law schools in the US, Australia and Canada. Continue reading

Event Recap: Chief Justice John Roberts on Charles Evans Hughes

Chief Justice John Roberts will not grow a beard. But what else do we know about him? On Friday, November 20th the Society was proud to partner with the Supreme Court Historical Society to host the 4th program in our series “Nominated from New York: The Empire State’s Contributions to the Supreme Court Bench.” This time we examined the legacy of Charles Evans Hughes through a lecture and conversation with his successor, current Chief Justice of the United States John G. Roberts, Jr.

Justice Roberts discussed Hughes’s legacy and tenure as Chief Justice, reflecting on the image he projected as a leader of the third branch of government. As the Wall Street Journal noted, Roberts reflected more on Hughes’s leadership role than his jurisprudence, discussing his path to the Chief Judgeship and his approach to, among other things, FDR’s court packing plan. Among other things, as the WSJ, points out, Hughes also oversaw the court’s move from the basement of the US Capitol building to its current courthouse, a move that Justice Roberts described as fitting for the court’s stature. Continue reading

Garfinkel Essay Scholarship: It’s About the Journey

This entry was written by Christine Mooney, a faculty member at Queensborough Community College, CUNY. Since 2009, she has served as a faculty member for students who submit their essays to the Garfinkel Essay Scholarship.

Before I begin, I would like to note that this contest is named in loving memory of David A. Garfinkel, the son of Barry and Gloria Garfinkel. Mr. and Mrs. Garfinkel have generously supported the contest since its inception in 2008. Each year, their financial support of the program has grown. This contest is a legacy to the memory of their son.

I thought it most appropriate to dedicate my first entry on this blog to David. I never had the honor of knowing or meeting David Garfinkel. However, I did have the opportunity the other day to speak with his father, Mr. Barry Garfinkel. I asked Mr. Garfinkel to tell me something about David. Two things were abundantly clear from our conversation. David loved history and sharing his knowledge with others. This contest provides a unique opportunity for community college students to carry out two of David’s passions. It gives them the chance to look at important aspects of our legal history and apply those doctrines to their individual experiences. This type of program is invaluable for community college students. Why? Continue reading

Historic Postcards of New York County Courthouses

Hon. Albert M. Rosenblatt is a retired Judge of the New York Court of Appeals and the President of the Historical Society of the New York Courts. He is also the author (with his wife, Julie) of the 2006 book “Historic Courthouses of the State of New York: A Study in Postcards.” The images featured in the book are now available on the Society’s website and this post is an introduction to this project.

History can be told through books, diaries, oral traditions, and even art. And as we have learned, through post cards. They tell a story of time and place, like photographs, but often with interesting commentary on the other side of the card.

There is of course a written history of our courthouses, but as the saying goes, (by way of paraphrase) one image is worth a thousand words. Browsing through an old antique shop some years ago I ran across a pile of post cards, marked 10 cents each, sitting on an old desk. Looking through the stack I encountered a courthouse or two and was charmed by the imagery. From then on, and whenever in a used whatever shop I would look for the inevitable shoe box that held these little treasures. Thankfully, they captured an era a century before our present epoch in which a greeting is sent by text. Continue reading

Emergence of the Common Law, The Anglo-Saxon Dooms, 601-1020 AD, Part 2: Dooms of the Kingdom of Wessex

In 725, the Kingdom of Kent lost its predominance in Anglo-Saxon England and the center of power moved to the Kingdom of Wessex. The kings of Wessex gradually expanded the area under their rule through annexation and conquest and, by the year 821, a large part of England was under the governance of the Crown of Wessex.

The Dooms of Ine (c 670-728 AD)

Laws of King Ine, Courtesy British Library
Laws of King Ine, Courtesy British Library

Ine, King of Wessex, issued Dooms in the year 694. Unfortunately, none of the original manuscripts survive and the sole version available to us today is annexed to a later document, the Dooms of Alfred the Great. In that version of Ine’s Dooms, the first several clauses relate to the Catholic church and seek to promote the practice of Christianity. Other dooms include penalties for fighting, stealing, slave trading and murder. Procedurally, the Dooms addressed the administration of oaths and perjury, and widened the definition of a surety by removing the requirement that person acting as surety be a member of the accused’s Maegth (kindred). New dooms relating to land usage and tenures indicate a fundamental change taking place in Anglo-Saxon society as it became more agrarian. Continue reading

The Jackson List: Miss Willard’s English Reading List (1910)

The Jackson List is a newsletter written by John Q. Barrett (Professor of Law at St. John’s Law School & Elizabeth S. Lenna Fellow at the Robert H. Jackson Center) on the life & career of Supreme Court Justice Robert H. Jackson. We are happy to occasionally reproduce entries from The Jackson List here that touch on New York history and Justice Jackson’s ties to Western New York. To get all of The Jackson List entries see Professor Barrett’s site here or send a “subscribe” email.

In 1909, Robert H. Jackson, age 17, graduated from the high school in his boyhood hometown, Frewsburg, New York. That Fall, he began to commute northward by trolley each day—about six miles—to Jamestown, New York. He attended Jamestown High School as a senior, taking subjects that had not been offered in Frewsburg.

At Jamestown High School, Robert Jackson came to be influenced, deeply, by an English teacher, Miss Mary Willard. He took her courses in English and English History. He also studied with her outside of class. In 1910, she gave him a carbon copy of a typed, four-page list of recommended readings—it became, as he wrote on it, “Property of Robt. H. Jackson.” Soon thereafter, Miss Willard gave him a mimeographed copy of a retyped, slightly longer version of the list—an expanded edition, it seems. Continue reading

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