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PostSubject: Historical Legal Cases   Sun 16 Mar 2014, 15:38

Jennens vs Jennens


It all started when William Jennens died in his nineties in 1798. Jennens was reputedly the richest commoner in Britain, nicknamed Jennens the Miser, he left a fortune estimated at around £2 million. Jennens was unmarried,and had died without leaving a will. Unsurprisingly, his relatives began legal actions to get their hands on his cash. So the court case began and went on.....and on......and on.......and on. In fact it went on until 1915, when it finally ended, not that it was settled but Bill the Miser's fortune had been eaten up in legal fees until there was nothing left.
Charles Dickens used the case as the basis for Jarndyce vs Jarndyce in Bleak House. The fictitious case ended the same way, though it's doubtful if Dickens' realised the realone had another 60 years to run.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Jennens

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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 17 Mar 2014, 09:43

Another legal case that captivated Victorian England concerned rival claims to be the long lost heir to the Tichborne baronetcy (and of course all its associated wealth, property, privileges and titles). As often with legal cases there were so many twists and turns that it's not easy to summarise, so see:

Wiki : The Tichborne Case


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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 17 Mar 2014, 10:03

Or, if you're looking for long legal cases, how about the Columbian Lawsuits (los Pleitos Colombinos) between the heirs of Christopher Columbus and the Spanish Crown in defence of the privileges obtained by Columbus for his discoveries in the New World. Most of these took place between 1508 and 1536 when the major cases were resolved by arbitration, but dispute over some of the lesser issues rumbled on and these were not resolved until the end of the 18th century, nearly three centuries after Columbus had first arrived in the Americas.

See wiki again:

Wiki: Los Pleitos Colombinos
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 17 Mar 2014, 13:02

The trial of the Quakers, William Penn and William Mead in 1670. The jury brought in a verdict the judge didn't like so he charged them (the jury, that is) with contempt of court;

http://www.1215.org/lawnotes/lawnotes/penntrial.htm
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 18 Mar 2014, 09:21

An article about the "Bloody Assizes" of 1685;

http://www.cyberussr.com/rus/jeffreys.html
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 18 Mar 2014, 14:55

The transcripts of the exchanges between Oscar Wilde and Edward Carson 1895:

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/wilde/Wildelibeltranscript.html

I do not know much about Edward Carson, but he and Wilde had been at Trinity College, Dublin together. When he heard that Bosie's father, the Marquess of Queensberry, had engaged Carson to lead his defence, Wilde famously remarked: "No doubt he will pursue his case with all the added bitterness of an old friend."

Were Carson and Wilde ever really friends, or had they been no more than intellectual rivals during their university days? Both were brilliant men, but whereas Wilde was loveable and, like Othello, "great of heart", Carson seems to have possessed a jealous, vindictive, essentially petty soul. But perhaps I do the man wrong: Carson was just a lawyer after all, hired to defend Queensberry, and he did his job superbly well. He diligently destroyed Wilde in the process.

Some would argue, of course, that Wilde, true tragic hero that he was, destroyed himself. He was a  man who indeed loved "not wisely, but too well". And it doesn't do to be sentimental about the nature of some of his relationships. There was little of the "intellectual" in his dealings with the various rent-boys.

This excerpt is from the 1960 film, starring Peter Finch. Finch is excellent as Oscar, as good, if not better, than Stephen Fry.






This is a portrait of Sir Edward Carson by John Lavery. Little of the milk of human kindness in this man's face.



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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 06:45

May I just add that the counsel cross-examining Wilde in the above YouTube clips is Charles Gill, not Edward Carson. Wilde gave his famous response to the "love that dare not speak its name" questioning during his own trial for "gross indecency". Wilde was prosecuted himself following his interrogation by Carson in the earlier libel trial. Wilde appeared at first to have had the upper hand with Carson: he was witty, flippant and arrogant with his former "friend". However, he went too far, and Carson was out for the kill.

http://jurist.law.pitt.edu/famoustrials/wilde.php

Unfortunately, I can't find a YouTube clip showing Carson and Wilde. A pity, because the exchanges between the two men were brilliant.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 08:52

After the libel case Carson attempted to persuade the authorities not to go ahead with their intended prosecution of Wilde.

As with all political figureheads - Carson was leader of the Unionist Party and is still a virulent symbol of Ulster opposition to home rule - the man in reality was much more complex.

Terence Rattigan's play "The Winslow Boy" is based on an actual legal case when a 13 year old cadet, George Archer-Shee, was expelled from the Osborne Naval College on the Isle of Wight for allegedly stealing a five shilling postal order from a fellow boarder. The case became something of a cause-célèbre in Britain in 1910 when it ultimately arrived in the High Court, driven there by the father's absolute conviction that his son was innocent and determination that the charge which had been levelled under military jurisdiction now be decided in a civil court. Martin Archer-Shee was a senior official in the Bank of England and not generally liked, being also a rather vehement Roman Catholic whose criticism of the established church and campaigning for its demotion had led him to fall foul of the authorities. His son being a cadet - neither a full sailor who would therefore have been entitled to court martial nor within civic jurisdiction when the alleged crime occurred - hadn't any apparent legal route open to him to redress the wrong committed against his name. It would require an extraordinary barrister indeed to even contemplate taking the boy's case, one who was brave and imaginative enough to use the legal system against itself in a manner never before attempted as well as one who did not mind being identified by association with the cause of a rather high profile and unpopular Catholic agitator. The man was Edward Carson.

Carson's victory secured compensation for George Archer-Shee amounting to half a million pounds in today's money. More significantly Carson's conduct and principles as displayed in the case run counter to almost every glib "definition" of the man as normally represented through his depiction as prosecutor in the Wilde case and later leader of the Unionist Party at its most militant and aggressive stage. In Rattigan's play the character based upon him is a hero, and rightly so.


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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 09:06

I suppose there were lots of cases involving homosexuality that read very badly to a modern audience.  I was reading of one just yesterday (in a NZ Listener article which rather surprisingly talked of how the New Zealand military are blazing a world-beating trail for gay acceptance):

Charles Aberhart, a draper, had already spent time in prison for homosexual acts. He was at the public toilet in Hagley Park, Christchurch in 1964 when a group of gay bashing teenagers set upon him  (having tried twice earlier in the night with other men who successfully fended them off).  They threatened him with scissors and he tried minor bribery, calling out to passersby, and escaping before they assault him so he has a heamorrhage of the brain and dies.  They went on trial for manslaughter, and nothwithstanding the instruction of the judge, were acquitted. The article then said that alone in the mainstream media the Listener editorial of the time condemned the verdict.  And now Charles Aberhart would not recognise the changes of the last 50 years.  "Consequently, many people these day might think, if they could not say, that it would be a good thing if the love that dare not speak its name would shut up a for a bit while we all digest these changes. They would be wrong."

And the author goes on to mention suicide rates among young gay adolescents, the situations in Uganda, Nigeria and Russia, blood donating, etc.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 09:11

I hope I did not come across as "glib". Please note that I admitted I knew little about the man and that I added "perhaps I do the man wrong."

Thank you for putting me right.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 09:17

I wasn't referring to your comments at all, temp, or attempting to put you right, wrong or indifferent. I was referring to the image of Carson as generally portrayed in Irish iconic depictions of past political players. It is this image that is flatly contradicted by the facts.



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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 09:21

True - probably because I knew I was being glib.

Oh, pooh. Will go and dig in my compost to get over mon premier huff du jour.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 15:44

In the Tichborne case, the barrister was disbarred, got elected to parliament, and continued to press Tichborne / Orton's claims for many years.
see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Edward_Kenealy
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 19 Mar 2014, 23:42

Temperance you have to hear this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xh0fw
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 08:31

@nordmann wrote:
Temperance you have to hear this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xh0fw



I'm so glad I have.

Many thanks for posting the link, nordmann; had you not, I should have missed a superb presentation. How well the several, differing voices worked.

For the first time in years I suddenly longed to be back in a classroom  Shocked . How I could have used a recitation like that; there is so much that could be explored using Wilde's poem and its background as a starting point. Obvious subject would be any debate about justice/capital punishment, but so much else too; not least the idea of catharsis. The reading (and it counts as drama, I think) has certainly had me in tears as I listened, gazing out at my garden this cold March morning. Pity and terror? Most definitely. Made me think too of the Philip Hoffman film of Capote with its terrible execution scene. In Cold Blood indeed, but whose blood - or hearts - are cold in this world is a subject that needs ongoing debate.

PS Wilde's comments in the poem about faith and redemption say more than all the "little tracts"  in the world - and most of the big ones too.

PPS Apologies to Trike for straying off topic here - will try to find out who was executed that awful morning in Reading, Trike, and post the details of the wretched man's trial.


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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 08:41

The man was Charles Wooleridge, c. 1866 - 7th July 1896. Wooleridge was a Trooper in the Royal Horse Guards. He was convicted for the murder of his wife. It's a terrible story.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_Thomas_Wooldridge
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 09:12

Another "crime of passion" where the law had "to take its course".

Ruth Ellis was tried and convicted of murder She was executed on 13th July 1955, the last woman to be hanged in England.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ruth_Ellis


The novelist Raymond Chandler, then living in Britain, wrote a scathing letter to the Evening Standard, referring to what he described as "the medieval savagery of the law".




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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 09:41

@nordmann wrote:
Temperance you have to hear this

http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b03xh0fw

My thanks too for that, Nordmann, and I'll echo Temp's comments.... a very good production.


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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 10:02

Next week I am going to a travelling theatrical production which deals with two people on the nights of their execution (I have mentioned this somewhere before recently).  Minnie Dean was the only woman hanged in NZ, in 1896. She was a baby farmer in the days before birth control allowed family numbers to be limited, and when it was a great shame to have illegitimate children (though it's surprising how many still pop up in family trees and history).  She took in children, perhaps mostly temporarily, since she seems to look after very young children only.  People complained about the care of their children and the police investigated but felt generally she looked after them well enough, though they did take one off her.

One day she took a train journey carrying a hatbox and a baby; on the return journey the guard wondered why the hatbox was very heavy and there was no baby. (Some people are very interfering, aren't they?)  A search of her garden found two dead bodies and one was found to have died of an overdose of laudanum.  She was arrested, convicted, sentenced to death and hanged. She was represented by a very well known lawyer, Alfred Hanlon, who was at one stage the subject of a television mini-series. Her husband was originally arrested but it was found he had no knowledge of this and was released.

I read an biography of her quite a few years ago now, which I think posited the theory that the deaths were accidental or at least the result of a rather unintelligent woman out of her depth and panicking.  She was Scottish (as far as I remember) and pretended to be of rather higher status than she was in reality.  I lived about 10 minutes from her home and her grave, which was unmarked till very recently.  (And is in the cemetery where my grandparents are buried.)  She was known as a bogeywoman when I was a child, a person of fascination and horror.  And a distortion of the facts means that people still tend to think that she killed the babies with a hatpin.  (When I say 'still' I think I mean they did up to the 1980s; I am not sure if young people now know of her existence or not.  However she is still important enough to be the subject of this play or dance or whatever we are going to.)
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Thu 20 Mar 2014, 11:40

Caro, that story, and Meles' Cotton case over on the On This day thread, reminds of this notorious case from 19th century Glasgow, which produced the singularly Scottish verdict "not proven"

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Madeleine_Smith


David Lean made a film about the case back in the 1950s
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 21 Mar 2014, 06:58

Like all good Daily Mail aficionados  Smile I love reading about the corruption, the debauchery and the naked power-plays of those who run this country. Had I been alive in the early 17th century, no doubt I would have been one of those who were prepared to pay an enormous amount - £10 - to secure a space in Westminster Hall  to gawp at Frances, Countess of Somerset on trial for her life. It was May 1616 and the young and beautiful countess was already an infamous figure in England. She was suspected of being a murderess and a dabbler in the black arts. She was certainly a known adulteress.  

The previous January the beautiful and sexy Countess (see picture), who was only 25, had been formally indicted as an accessory before the fact to the murder of Sir Thomas Overbury, who, in September 1613, had died in terrible agony in the Tower of London. At the time his death had been ascribed to natural causes, but it was now recognised as murder. In 1615 a man named Richard Weston had been found guilty of killing Overbury, and he had been hanged shortly afterwards. At Weston's trial the Prosecution had contended that various tarts and jellies had been fed to Overbury, delicacies which had been prepared on the Countess of Somerset's directions. The deadly jellies didn't quite do the trick, so the Countess had allegedly bribed an apothecary's boy to administer an enema of mercury sublimate, which caused a nasty and very undignified death within twenty-four hours.

But who was this Overbury and why was the lovely Countess - and her husband, Robert Carr, Earl of Somerset, one of the richest and most powerful men in England - out to get him?

More here, including - in true Daily Mail fashion - details of the Countess' embarrassing marital problems (with husband number one) and her second husband's alleged involvement in gay sex with people in high places. Sex, jealousy, power struggles, murder; you couldn't make this story up.

Both the Frances and her husband were found guilty of Overbury's murder and were sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to imprisonment and the Somersets were in fact eventually (1622) pardoned by the King. Others involved however - folk not so rich or important - were hanged.


Frances Howard admitted a part in Overbury's murder, but her husband did not. Fearing what Carr might say about him in court, James repeatedly sent messages to the Tower pleading with him to admit his guilt in return for a pardon. "It is easy to be seen that he would threaten me with laying an aspersion upon me of being, in some sort, accessory to his crime".[9] The couple were found guilty and sentenced to death; nonetheless, they were eventually pardoned. Four accomplices - Robert Weston, Anne Turner, Gervaise Helwys, and Simon Franklin - were also found guilty and, lacking powerful connections, were hanged.


The third link provides further links to various street ballads and political poetry etc. published at the time.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Overbury

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frances_Carr,_Countess_of_Somerset

http://www.earlystuartlibels.net/htdocs/overbury_murder_section/H0.html

Excellent book about the whole unedifying business is Anne Somerset's "Unnatural Murder: Poison at the Court of James I"

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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 21 Mar 2014, 15:39

@Triceratops wrote:
SNIP "the singularly Scottish verdict "not proven""


AKA "Not guilty - but don't do it again."
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 21 Mar 2014, 19:52

I think we tend to envy that 'not proven' here - people get acquitted when they shouldn't have and we are forever having to have re-trials because people have been in jail for 20 years when they are obviously not guilty, but it's hard to get through the systems to prove it.  Admitting to a murder is not a good idea, even if you are a bit simple (wouldn't you think police and two juries would notice this, especially when someone else was around committing similar crimes?).  And we've had another one where hundreds of miles have been driven by police to see if a man could drive a certain long distance in a certain short time, and murder his wife and daughter, and drive back to his meeting or whatever.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 21 Mar 2014, 20:33

Caro, that sounds very like the Peter Manuel serial killings around Glasgow in the 50s. One of the murders was that of a mother and daughter, called Watt, and the husband/father was chief suspect. He's been up in Ardrishaig at the time and the police drove the 90 miles from there and back to see if it were possible for him to have done it in the time for which he didn't have an alibi. A friend of my aunt's was the bar sergeant in the police station where he was taken when arrested and he was never convinced of Watt's innocence, even after a further killing in the area and the rather doubtful evidence against him meant he was released.

'Not proven' is no different in practice from 'Not guilty' but I believe 'Not Proven' and 'Proven' would be the most appropriate verdicts; guilt and innocence, as well as being highly subjective concepts, do not necessarily emerge from an adversarial judicial system like ours.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Sat 22 Mar 2014, 17:31

Aren't they thinking of getting rid of the "Not Proven" option - famously called by Sir Walter Scott "that bastard verdict"?

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-18632680
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Sat 22 Mar 2014, 18:43

I'd say they need to keep it - as it's straight majority voting in Scottish courts, so a compromise verdict might be a good cop out at times.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Sat 22 Mar 2014, 19:59

I don't believe that anything came of that but what is now being proposed is the abolition of the corroboration principle, that there must be at least 2 pieces of independent evidence for a prosecution to be brought. It's causing a right stushie, the legal profession are dead against it and I tend to agree. The rationale is to make it easier for cases such as abuse and rape to be brought to trial given they often involve a straight choice between which party is to be believed in the the recounting of events without other supporting evidence. One result of the necessity for corroboration has been the practice of police in Scotland to go about in pairs; not because they're feart but because the word of one policeman cannot, on its own, be a basis for prosecution.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Sat 22 Mar 2014, 21:00

If called to do jury service, I'm not sure I would take a policeman's word as any more valid than that of anyone else - too many miscarriages of justice in recent times for that.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 24 Mar 2014, 09:35

The Double Jeopardy rule (an accused cannot be charged with the same crime twice), has been abolished, in England & Wales as well as Scotland and for serious crimes in Northern Ireland.

Roman Law has been the basis of much modern European Law and the principle of "Cui Bono", ("who benefits"), as laid out by Lucius Ravilla, is still a valid investigative technique. Cui Bono was used by Cicero in his defence of Roscio junior in the murder of Roscio senior.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_Roscio_Amerino
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 15 Apr 2014, 01:54

I am reading for our book club Portrait of a Marriage by Nigel Nicolson about his parents, Vita Sackville -west and Harold Nicolson.  Early on, before their marriage, the Sackville-West family had a court case, basically to prove Vita's mother was illegitimate.  I suppose you all know the family history, but I was unaware of the family tree.  Vita's mother Victoria, one of a number of children born to the second Lord Sackville with his Spanish mistress, married her cousin, and he was the heir to the title and estate. On the death of Lord Sackville II Victoria's brother, Henry, went to court to try and prove there had been a marriage and he was therefore the real heir.  He failed (possibly tried fraudulent means to change the look of the will), and the Sackville-Wests "were greeted on their return to Knole by a welcome more suited to someone who had just established her legitimacy instead of its opposite. The day was declared a public holiday in Sevenoaks. [!!] The local fire brigade pulled the carriage through the streets and park under triumphal arches and between cheering crowds. Bands preceded the embarrassed cortege." 

Can any old town declare a public holiday still? Schools in NZ at least have to teach a certain number of days, so if we declared a public holiday here, it would just mean the school would have to stay open another day longer at the end of the year.

There was a further court case, but a less odd one, though apparently even more dramatic and of more public interest.  Victoria's paramour, Sir John Murray Scott and died and left her a good sum and the contents of a house.  His family objected on the grounds that she had bewitched him basically and turned him against his sisters and family.  Nigel Nicolson said his grandmother won the case almost before she or her counsel uttered a word. "She was like a yacht among a crowd of fishing-smacks. It was quite evident the only reason why Seery had preferred her company to theirs was that they were dull and she delightful. It was quite true that she had thrown them into the shade but they were already shadowy people, and their jealousy rendered them even more unattractive to him."
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 15 Apr 2014, 09:46

@Triceratops wrote:

Roman Law has been the basis of much modern European Law and the principle of "Cui Bono", ("who benefits"), as laid out by Lucius Ravilla, is still a valid investigative technique. Cui Bono was used by Cicero in his defence of Roscio junior in the murder of Roscio senior.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pro_Roscio_Amerino


This might be of interest ... I liked it ... a dramatisation of the Roscio case:



The defence of Sextus Roscius was the one that first made Cicero's name, and it is of course also the subject of Steven Saylor's excellent book, 'Roman Blood', the first in his acclaimed 'Roma Sub Rosa' series of novels.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 08:56

Here we have a look at the most famous trial ever. Well it is Easter Friday;

http://law2.umkc.edu/faculty/projects/ftrials/jesus/jesusaccount.html
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 09:40

Very interesting, Trike - thank you for posting the link.

What a pity Tim is no longer around: we could perhaps have had a ferocious argument over this to keep us all from dying of boredom this Easter weekend. Here in Devon one daren't venture out: the lanes are full of Londoners racing around as if they think the B3220 is the M25.

I had a contretemps with a horrible man in a banana yellow Lamborghini yesterday: he actually got out of his car and shouted at me when I wouldn't reverse down a hill to let him pass. I did reverse in the end, but I deliberately took about half an hour to get to a passing place. He was apopleptic by then.

Sorry, wrong thread - this is a rant.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 13:24



What interesting entries for May 14th 1719 and July 17th of the same year to be found in the official records of the Old Bailey, and ones that cry out for background info beyond the infuriatingly sparse details provided in the clerical records.

Ann How (what a great name, an' how!) pops out for a month (!) and leaves Temperance Walker in charge of her house. When she comes back she finds that she's missing a Camblet riding hood (traditionally red, very much as depicted in the fairy tale) which has obviously turned up in a pawnbrokers shop on April 17th judging by the terse summary above. Temperance is suspected of having pawned it, though in her defence she claims that she'd actually simply loaned it to "a person" and it was she who had done the dirty. At a time when such a theft could earn one fifteen years transportation to the colonies and despite her rather wishy-washy defence Temperance was acquitted due to lack of evidence. Walker walked.

But not very far - no sooner was she down from the dock than she was back in it again, facing a second indictment concerning the theft of a Cypher Ring from a Mr Edward Stanton, it too obviously having appeared in the pawnbrokers shop on the same day. Again the evidence was insufficient and again she walked.

But note the very unusual annotation beside the case made by a later clerk of the court. Obviously someone had cause to go back through the records and find this case, clearly marking it for easy reference.

The answer to this may be found in July that same year when Sir John Ward (not only a senior judge but then Lord Mayor of London) was faced with a "job lot" of almost fifty suspects in one day all charged with larceny and burglary at the more serious end of the scale, conviction for which carried death or transportation as standard. Amongst them was a man called John Steel from Clerkenwell who stood accused of having broken into the house of a William Riddlesden and making off with several valuables. Steel contested the validity of the evidence and though this was ceded by the jury they obviously decided he'd played a role in the affair anyway based on his accomplice William Cryer's confession and convicted him on the lesser charge of "felony". He got transportation.

But like Temperance in the earlier case he is immediately back in the dock again, this time accused of stealing a coat - and guess who's standing next to him this time? Now whether or not it's the same Temperance having moved from St Martins in the Fields to Holborn in the previous two months is hard to say, but note the heavy blot like annotation beside the case (a mark which instructs the clerk to check for previous). Again it's Cryer's evidence that weighs against Steel and he receives the same verdict. Yet though Cryer has also implicated Temperance the jury finds insufficient evidence to convict and she (yet again) is acquitted.



Temperance Walker does not appear in the Old Bailey again (though she may well have appeared under a married name or even in another court). But it is tempting to think that a flutter of an eyelash or two and an almost imperceptible wink to a young male juror helped secure her delivery from transportation (or worse) and that she then gaily tripped out into the sunlight on Newgate Street, the rays glinting off her cypher ring as she snuggled into her new coat and popped her Camblet over her locks, all set to further continue her remarkably high-stake life of crime. One almost wishes it.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 13:55

I wrote:
Temperance Walker does not appear in the Old Bailey again

Update: I stand corrected - Temperance was at it again (and living again in St Martins in the Fields)!

Almost exactly two years later she's back up in the Old Bailey in July 1721, this time with a Jonathan Howell who has been nicked stealing women's fancy garments. The clothes' owner, a Mary Glascock (these names get better and better), along with an Elizabeth Harris provide the depositions by which Howell is convicted and sentenced to transportation. However on the critical question of Walker's involvement Glascock and Harris had to admit in court that it was based only on knowing that she and Howell had been up to no good for six years already. The jury again seemed it hard to find our Temperance in any way culpable and guess what - she got off again!

No clerk's annotations this time. Had she bewitched him also?



Walker gets a mention in an advertisement for the Old Bailey's "Ordinary's Account" published in 1734. This is a list of case details which might be of interest to concerned lawyers and students at the bar (and the general public too it is assured in the notice). However the case seems to be the one with Howell from thirteen years before so maybe this time we can definitely say that Temperance sailed off into the sunset - this time even better decked out in some nice silk petticoats and tabby gowns!


The loot:

Tabby silk gown circa 1720


Embroidered petticoat 1720


Cypher Ring with religious inscription circa 1700


Camblet red riding hood circa 1710


Riding coat 1720
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Fri 18 Apr 2014, 16:37

Another Temperance - but sadly one who did not get to walk away in a pretty silk frock - was Temperance Lloyd, who was found guilty of witchcraft in 1682. This Temperance, unlike nordmann's Temperance Walker, seems to have been a bit simple; she was interrogated by local justices in Bideford, and later she and two others, Mary Trembles and Susanna Edwards, were sent to Exeter for trial. There was witch hysteria in the city when the three were convicted there on August 19th, 1682. They were all hung at Heavitree, Exeter, a week later. It is often said that Temperance, Mary and Susanna were the last women to be tried and executed for witchcraft in England, but, as the chilling records of Exeter executions show (third link, scroll down to 1682), another woman, Alice Molland, died at Heavitree three years later.

The account of the Bideford interrogations - involving magpies who turned into black men, tabby cats, teats of various sorts and sizes, hysterical capering, fainting men and other lurid details - would be funny were it not for the women's dreadful end, and for the fact that the women were the victims of hatred, ignorance and spite, with, no doubt, a fair bit of sexual hysteria thrown in for good measure. A local historian, John Watkins, writing in 1792, observed:  'there was always some poor devil, either on account of an unlucky visage, sour temper, or wretched poverty, set up as the object of terror and universal hatred'.

It is certain that most of the evidence that condemned the women - amusing as it may seem to us in 2014 - consisted of malicious rumour and hearsay.




http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bideford_witch_trial

This is a better account:

http://www.devonlife.co.uk/people/the_bideford_witches_of_north_devon_devon_s_fascinating_history_1_1632356

http://www.exetermemories.co.uk/em/executed.php


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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Sat 19 Apr 2014, 11:25

The account above says that the story "began" in July 1682 when shopkeeper Thomas Eastchurch reported to a constable that Temperance Lloyd had made another woman sick through witchcraft. However it is patently obvious that the true beginning must lie further in the past, probably much further back, and it would be fascinating to know just what that story might be.

One witchcraft trial in 1324, the first such in Ireland, involved a noblewoman Alice Kyteler. Thanks to its extensive documentation, especially for the period, it is not too difficult to see that money and greed lay behind the whole affair, along with one clergyman Lederer's insatiable thirst for power and influence. A good synopsis can be found here.

Kyteler's house in Kilkenny is still there and still run as an inn, just as in her own time.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 10:14

Not a case as such, from medieval times, Trial by Combat;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trial_by_combat
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 10:21

I've found this detailed and interesting site which gives more information ("an attempt to make some sense of the main printed materials") about the women tried and hung at Exeter in 1682.

http://roy25booth.blogspot.co.uk/2013/02/the-devil-came-to-me-once-i-think-like.html

The blogger briefly mentions the more famous Salem witch trials - which happened just ten years after the deaths of Temperance, Susanna and Mary - and which, of course, were the subject of Arthur Miller's famous play, The Crucible. I could comment on the play, but am less sure of the American politics - the McCarthy "trials" - that so concerned Miller when he wrote his drama in 1953. The following is from a literature website: how accurate, though, is the 20th century history? I know nothing about the trial and execution of Julius and Ethel Rosenberg.


Drawing on research on the witch trials he had conducted while an undergraduate, Miller composed The Crucible in the early 1950s. Miller wrote the play during the brief ascendancy of Senator Joseph McCarthy, a demagogue whose vitriolic anti-Communism proved the spark needed to propel the United States into a dramatic and fractious anti-Communist fervor during these first tense years of the Cold War with the Soviet Union. Led by McCarthy, special congressional committees conducted highly controversial investigations intended to root out Communist sympathizers in the United States. As with the alleged witches of Salem, suspected Communists were encouraged to confess and to identify other Red sympathizers as means of escaping punishment. The policy resulted in a whirlwind of accusations. As people began to realize that they might be condemned as Communists regardless of their innocence, many “cooperated,” attempting to save themselves through false confessions, creating the image that the United States was overrun with Communists and perpetuating the hysteria. The liberal entertainment industry, in which Miller worked, was one of the chief targets of these “witch hunts,” as their opponents termed them. Some cooperated; others, like Miller, refused to give in to questioning. Those who were revealed, falsely or legitimately, as Communists, and those who refused to incriminate their friends, saw their careers suffer, as they were blacklisted from potential jobs for many years afterward.

At the time of its first performance, in January of 1953, critics and cast alike perceived The Crucible as a direct attack on McCarthyism (the policy of sniffing out Communists). Its comparatively short run, compared with those of Miller’s other works, was blamed on anti-Communist fervor. When Julius and Ethel Rosenberg were accused of spying for the Soviets and executed, the cast and audience of Miller’s play observed a moment of silence. Still, there are difficulties with interpreting The Crucible as a strict allegorical treatment of 1950s McCarthyism. For one thing, there were, as far as one can tell, no actual witches or devil-worshipers in Salem. However, there were certainly Communists in 1950s America, and many of those who were lionized as victims of McCarthyism at the time, such as the Rosenbergs and Alger Hiss (a former State Department official), were later found to have been in the pay of the Soviet Union. Miller’s Communist friends, then, were often less innocent than the victims of the Salem witch trials, like the stalwart Rebecca Nurse or the tragic John Proctor.

If Miller took unknowing liberties with the facts of his own era, he also played fast and loose with the historical record. The general outline of events in The Crucible corresponds to what happened in Salem of 1692, but Miller’s characters are often composites. Furthermore, his central plot device—the affair between Abigail Williams and John Proctor—has no grounding in fact (Proctor was over sixty at the time of the trials, while Abigail was only eleven). Thus, Miller’s decision to set sexual jealousy at the root of the hysteria constitutes a dramatic contrivance.

In an odd way, then, The Crucible is best read outside its historical context—not as a perfect allegory for anti-Communism, or as a faithful account of the Salem trials, but as a powerful and timeless depiction of how intolerance and hysteria can intersect and tear a community apart.* In John Proctor, Miller gives the reader a marvellous tragic hero for any time—a flawed figure who finds his moral centre just as everything is falling to pieces around him.


* My underlining - links with the Bideford "community" there. Interesting to read the Exeter judge's comments about Christian charity - and the Bideford community's response - also Susanna Edwards's choice of Psalm 40 to be recited before her death. I wonder if the baying mob at Heavitree got the irony?
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 10:50

This is the psalm Susanna requested: these words from the King James Bible would, presumably, have been the last words she heard. The irony is in lines 12-17, especially in that "Aha aha".

0 I waited patiently for the Lord; and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry.

2 He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay, and set my feet upon a rock, and established my goings.

3 And he hath put a new song in my mouth, even praise unto our God: many shall see it, and fear, and shall trust in the Lord.

4 Blessed is that man that maketh the Lord his trust, and respecteth not the proud, nor such as turn aside to lies.

5 Many, O Lord my God, are thy wonderful works which thou hast done, and thy thoughts which are to us-ward: they cannot be reckoned up in order unto thee: if I would declare and speak of them, they are more than can be numbered.

6 Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required.

7 Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me,

8 I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart.

9 I have preached righteousness in the great congregation: lo, I have not refrained my lips, O Lord, thou knowest.

10 I have not hid thy righteousness within my heart; I have declared thy faithfulness and thy salvation: I have not concealed thy lovingkindness and thy truth from the great congregation.

11 Withhold not thou thy tender mercies from me, O Lord: let thy lovingkindness and thy truth continually preserve me.

12 For innumerable evils have compassed me about: mine iniquities have taken hold upon me, so that I am not able to look up; they are more than the hairs of mine head: therefore my heart faileth me.

13 Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me: O Lord, make haste to help me.

14 Let them be ashamed and confounded together that seek after my soul to destroy it; let them be driven backward and put to shame that wish me evil.

15 Let them be desolate for a reward of their shame that say unto me, Aha, aha.

16 Let all those that seek thee rejoice and be glad in thee: let such as love thy salvation say continually, The Lord be magnified.

17 But I am poor and needy; yet the Lord thinketh upon me: thou art my help and my deliverer; make no tarrying, O my God.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 17:01

Temp, I would think that suggests a degree of subtlety and intelligence in their choice that is frankly belied by their behaviour earlier in the case when they seemed all too willing to allow the notion exist that they held supernatural powers, only finally recanting when they suddenly (and belatedly) realised just how serious was the intent to execute them. But who knows? Even illiterates in that period could quote more chapter and verse from the KJV than the average sod nowadays.

Trike, did you know that yesterday, April 20th, was the anniversary of the last ruling in an English court of law allowing trial by combat? The Thornton V Ashord private case in 1818 followed an earlier highly publicised criminal case where Abraham Thornton had been ultimately acquitted of the rape and murder of Mary Ashford after a dance in 1817. Her brother William appealed the verdict and the rearrested Thornton availed of the fact that trial by combat had never been removed from the statutes to attempt to "prove" his innocence by defeating Ashford in combat. The court had no option but to grant him the right to this course of action and he subsequently was reacquitted by virtue of Ashford declining the offer. Under law this meant the matter had now been settled.

As a direct result of this widely publicised case the archaic law was finally revoked in 1819.

Public opinion was very against Thornton, seeing his ploy as that of a cad attempting to escape justice. He found himself held in such opprobrium locally that he decided to emigrate to the USA though his first attempt failed when his fellow passengers found he was due to join them on board and insisted he be put ashore. He did however manage to make it in the end and died in Baltimore over forty years later. His actual guilt or innocence in the matter of Mary Ashford's death was never resolved.


Mary as depicted in a newspaper at the time of the original trial
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 17:38

@nordmann wrote:

Temp, I would think that suggests a degree of subtlety and intelligence in their choice that is frankly belied by their behaviour earlier in the case when they seemed all too willing to allow the notion exist that they held supernatural powers, only finally recanting when they suddenly (and belatedly) realised just how serious was the intent to execute them. But who knows? Even illiterates in that period could quote more chapter and verse from the KJV than the average sod nowadays.


But is it not true that, when terrified out of their wits, people will confess to anything? The mention of Animal Farm over on the Daily Rant thread brings to mind the abject confessions of the rebellious hens - Orwell obviously understood the strange psychology of this. (More recently, didn't some victims of the Saddam Hussein regime - no doubt foolishly hoping for some kind of mercy -  "confess" to the most ridiculous crimes?) When all hope of mercy is gone, the truth comes out - as with the three Bideford women who denied everything on the scaffold.

And yes, illiterates were steeped in the language of the King James Bible - and no doubt pondered it in their hearts. Illiterate people may not be able to read, but that does not make them stupid or insensitive or unaware.

I'm not so sure now that Temperance was "simple" - wish I hadn't put that about her yesterday.

EDIT: And to quote from O'Brien's speech in Nineteen Eighty-Four:

The Russians persecuted heresy more cruelly than the Inquisition had done ... Before they exposed their victims to public trial, they deliberately set themselves to destroy their dignity. They wore them down by torture and solitude until they were despicable, cringing wretches, confessing whatever was put into their mouths, covering themselves with abuse, accusing and sheltering behind one another, whimpering for mercy.

Being prodded and poked and examined intimately for "signs of the devil" surely was a kind of torture - humiliating and terrifying.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Mon 21 Apr 2014, 21:57

Point taken, but that was my point too regarding illiteracy in that era.

It seems to me from the meagre information that the real hassle was going on between the "merchant" (ie. middle) class and the lower class. Aren't Temperance and company described as beggars in at least one affidavit quoted? Speaking of affidavits it would appear the accused also made the claims under oath. She may have been able to cite her psalms, but was she also ignorant enough to think the witchcraft thing would impress people? We don't have enough data to judge what really went on, least of all in their heads. But it's fascinating, and undoubtedly a travesty of justice since even if the accused believed they were witches at some point this just shows how unstable they were mentally, even by the standards of the day.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 22 Apr 2014, 07:46

@nordmann wrote:
Point taken, but that was my point too regarding illiteracy in that era.


Point taken.

@nordmann wrote:



It seems to me from the meagre information that the real hassle was going on between the "merchant" (ie. middle) class and the lower class. Aren't Temperance and company described as beggars in at least one affidavit quoted? Speaking of affidavits it would appear the accused also made the claims under oath. She may have been able to cite her psalms, but was she also ignorant enough to think the witchcraft thing would impress people? We don't have enough data to judge what really went on, least of all in their heads. But it's fascinating, and undoubtedly a travesty of justice since even if the accused believed they were witches at some point this just shows how unstable they were mentally, even by the standards of the day.


This isn't the thread to discuss this, but the whole problem of Christian charity, the merchant (ie. middle class) class and those members of the lower orders generally referred to as "sturdy beggars" is an interesting one. It continues to be a problem even today (in Bideford and elsewhere): when does (did) Christian "charity" become Christian "enabling"? Were Temperance, Mary and Susanna "sturdy beggars" - the sort who eventually drive well-intentioned but street-unwise "do-gooders" to distraction? Was this a case of Victims-Rescuers-Persecutors, a classic and very dangerous and distressing Karpman Triangle drama c. 1682 (and, as you have pointed out, one that had probably started years before)?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karpman_drama_triangle

Having to "persecute" (here, actually prosecute - ie. hand over to the authorities) the very victims of poverty/abuse whom you tried to "rescue", but who then turned persecutor on you, could lead to immense fear, resentment and hatred. And the members of the Bideford merchant class - with all the power of the law and the Church behind them -  who got entangled with Temperance and Co. could quickly turn from persecuted victims to being the ultimate persecutors themselves: and the original victims - powerless once more - end up on the gallows.

This is all no doubt psychobabble speculation, but the whole story fascinates me.

It was Susanna, by the way, described in one of the links as "pious", who asked for Psalm 40. I can see Susanna going to her death, not so much pious and repentant, as spitting defiance at the "bloody Christians" of Bideford. Temperance, on the other hand, although she denied her guilt and retracted her confession at the end, was apparently quite happy to die. She wasn't too fussed about an appropriate psalm. We are told she enjoyed a final meal and draught of ale before the execution, and was quite resigned to her fate. Born to hang, as so many people are, one way or the other?

I think the phrase "judicial suicide" was used in one of the links: the Exeter judge, the man who recommended yet more charity, noted that.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 22 Apr 2014, 08:12

I read several of the "Ordinary's Accounts" from Newgate recently - they can be found online via the Old Bailey website. The "Ordinary" was Newgate's chaplain and for two centuries the incumbent was obliged to publish a monthly newsletter detailing the confessions, last words and demeanour of the condemned. It was a bestseller in its day and a valuable source of income for both the prison and the attached criminal court so there was almost a requirement therefore that its contents be entertaining, if not even sensational at times, in order to keep sales up and revenue coming in.

However as one goes through them in succession, and even bearing in mind that the Ordinary was hardly going to advertise too many hanging victims violently professing their innocence to the end (as many must indeed have done), one is struck by the sheer resignedness of it all. From the most notorious and most eloquent of criminals to the vast majority of otherwise faceless individuals on their way to Tyburn there is an almost uniform acceptance that this "process" of execution, for whatever magnitude crime or whether the condemned admitted or denied their guilt, was simply a fact of life - at least in so far as how the Ordinary reported it.

In the sense therefore of the Ordinary's report being a tool of the establishment used to impress on the public the validity and effectiveness of hanging as a Christian and socially desirable punishment the office could not have been better named. According to the Ordinary there was nothing extraordinary about the procedure at all, and at least in their testaments as recorded by him the vast majority of the thousands of his "clients" seemed to agree. In light of such fatalism it is difficult to see how they ever thought hanging could be a deterrent at all. Everyone however seemed to accept that it was more in the manner of deferring judgement to a higher court, almost as if God had been co-opted into the British legal system (or it into His). Weird stuff, and in this context no wonder that equally strange beliefs and notions such as witchcraft slotted straight into that system without too many eyelids having to bat at all.

Temperance and Susanna were just very much of their zeitgeist, I imagine.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 22 Apr 2014, 09:34

I'd never heard of the "Ordinary's Accounts" - for others interested in this fascinating source, here's the link:

http://www.oldbaileyonline.org/static/Ordinarys-accounts.jsp

Hogarth had no time for the Ordinary - here's the Plate 11 of Industry and Idleness that is  mentioned; you can see the Ordinary ensconced in his coach while the Methodist minister is in the cart with the condemned - obviously desperately trying to give the wretch some genuine comfort. Lady selling the "last words" speech is clear to see too.



In plate 11 of William Hogarth's series of satirical prints, Industry and Idleness (1747), the Ordinary is depicted inside a coach near the centre of the image, between the cart carrying the condemned Tom Idle and the Tyburn scaffold. He is staring disconcertingly directly at the viewer from inside his coach, while the man who is actually ministering to Tom in the cart is a Methodist preacher. Reflecting the competition the Ordinary faced from other publishers who rushed to sell their own accounts, just below him in the forefront of the image is a woman who is already selling Tom's “last dying speech” before he has even reached the scaffold.




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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 22 Apr 2014, 11:48

I haven't read the Ordinaries but I have read of them, in an account of Newgate I read a while ago. I might be misremembering but I feel the stories in them got wilder and more exaggerated with time. 

Not a primary source but a book I have about European women from 1500-1800 has a chapter entitled Women and the Devil and the author says at the end of the chapter, "In singling out as the perpetrator of maleficium a particular type of woman, the old, the widow, the deformed, deaf, one-eyed, toothless, the woman in isolation, the one whose limited earning power and consequent poverty had made her a social liability for the community the most tragic aspects of the female predicament were converted into a potential capital offence. These women came before the courts because of their dependence on the community, their weakness, not their self-sufficiency.  They were those in the habit of going 'from house to house and door to door for a potfull of milk, yeast, drink, pottage or some such relief which which they could hardly live.' [R Scot Discoverie of Witchcraft, 1584.]  In doing so they put themselves at terrible risk."  (She said Scot put all witches into four categories: the innocent accused out of malice; the deluded who were bullied into believing they were witches, the malevolent who used poison not supernatural means to injure, and imposters trying to convince gullible people they could heal diseases or find lost goods.)

By that she meant they accepted that they could curse people and did so, more in desperation than with evil intent or with power, to do what they could to protect themselves against poverty and neighbours' grievances. She suggests that witches were considered less powerful in Britain than in Spain and France. She doesn't however think that the only reason for their persecution was the usual one of middle class people finding scapegoats in the lower classes.  A lack of medical treatment meant women, especially, used potions and their skills to medical reasons and were sometimes thought of as ;'cunning folk' using white magic.  From where it wasn't a great step to the possibility of them using black magic.  And a new phase of religious change and different and more difficult social and economic conditions intensified these concerns so that marginalised women were attacked not just by the social superiors but by their peers, or those very little above them in status.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Tue 22 Apr 2014, 13:29

Not wishing this thread to slip into a discussion solely about witches and witch trials (a topic worthy of its own thread, I feel), your point about the treatment of marginalised people within the legal system is worth pursuing, I think.

The truth is that the vast majority of defendants in court historically, regardless of jurisdiction or state, are exactly what might be described as people marginalised within society, normally through poverty but also for even more sinister reasons to do with race, sex, religion or some other bias operating to their detriment. When one reads through the cases in the Old Bailey available on the website to which Temp linked, just how big a majority this has traditionally been becomes very obvious indeed.

Interestingly until 1898 in Britain (a little earlier in the US) it was not considered practical to require the defendant to give testimony under oath. Witnesses for and against the defendant and indeed the prosecutor himself (private prosecutions far exceeded public ones and the prosecutor was a term that could apply to any accuser as well as any barrister representing them) were however all obliged to swear to tell the truth with God as their witness. For the defendant though this requirement was seen as "compulsion" on the court's part and in the spirit of the American fifth amendment was therefore deemed bad form should it ever be put into use.

Or at least that is the official version of why such a protocol had developed. The truth however was probably more prosaic. Given the social status and circumstances of the vast majority of defendants it was more likely that the view of most magistrates and judges was that an oath in the typical defendant's case would be meaningless. Oath implies an understanding of the concept of honour and though it was never actually stated within any statute there must have existed little regard for the social class whose members most frequently stood in the dock as having even an inkling of what this concept might mean. To force them to speak under oath was akin, they would have thought, to simply deciding in advance a guilty verdict based on their unavoidable inclination to perjury. Of course the other effect of this was that even the most honest defendant therefore could not be wholly believed at any time. They had in effect a license to lie and the court held an expectation that it was natural for them to do so. When looking at defendants' testimonies throughout this period therefore it is as well to bear in mind that it carried little weight in the juries' deliberations, and in many instances was probably not even listened to. It is also worth noting that up until the early 19th century there was no legal presumption of innocence and no right to silence on the defendant's part. In other words they were expected to prove their innocence through their testimony while simultaneously being almost encouraged to lie, or at least would be disbelieved as a matter of course anyway. It is no wonder many poorer people simply gave up and pleaded guilty. There seemed little chance of justice in such an arrangement based on so many adverse preconceptions.

Incidentally of all the jurisdictions based wholly or partly on British law there remains one place today where the defendant is still not required to take an oath - the American state of Georgia. A cynic might look at a racial breakdown of defendants in that state and surmise that the 18th century's cynicism towards the marginalised has persisted within their legal system.
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PostSubject: Re: Historical Legal Cases   Wed 23 Apr 2014, 12:27

@nordmann wrote:

Trike, did you know that yesterday, April 20th, was the anniversary of the last ruling in an English court of law allowing trial by combat?

No, I didn't know, the timing of the post was pure coincidence. On a related subject, duelling was still permitted. The last duel in Scotland took place in 1826, as the result of a dispute about a bank loan between Messrs Landale and Morgan, and resulted in Morgan's death. Landale was subsequently tried for murder but was acquitted.

Another duel involved Lord Cardigan (of Charge of the Light Brigade fame) who was tried by his peers (quite literally, the trial took place in the House of Lords) for attempted murder after his opponent was wounded in the chest. Cardigan being found not guilty on a technicality.


the short version
http://victoriancalendar.blogspot.co.uk/2011/01/february-16-1841-trial-in-house-of.html


the long version
http://www.exclassics.com/newgate/ng631.htm
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