Portal:Law

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Law is a system of rules, usually enforced through a set of institutions. It shapes politics, economics and society in numerous ways and serves as a primary social mediator of relations between people. Contract law regulates everything from buying a bus ticket to trading on derivatives markets. Property law defines rights and obligations related to the transfer and title of personal (often referred to as chattel) and real property. Trust law applies to assets held for investment and financial security, while tort law allows claims for compensation if a person's rights or property are harmed. If the harm is criminalised in a statute, criminal law offers means by which the state can prosecute the perpetrator. Constitutional law provides a framework for the creation of law, the protection of human rights and the election of political representatives. Administrative law is used to review the decisions of government agencies, while international law governs affairs between sovereign states in activities ranging from trade to environmental regulation or military action. Writing in 350 BC, the Greek philosopher Aristotle declared: "The rule of law is better than the rule of any individual."

Legal systems elaborate rights and responsibilities in a variety of ways. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, which codify their laws, and common law systems, where judge made law is not consolidated. In some countries, religion informs the law. Law provides a rich source of scholarly inquiry, into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis or sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness and justice. "In its majestic equality", said the author Anatole France in 1894, "the law forbids rich and poor alike to sleep under bridges, beg in the streets and steal loaves of bread." In a typical democracy, the central institutions for interpreting and creating law are the three main branches of government, namely an impartial judiciary, a democratic legislature, and an accountable executive. To implement and enforce the law and provide services to the public, a government's bureaucracy, the military and police are vital. While all these organs of the state are creatures created and bound by law, an independent legal profession and a vibrant civil society inform and support their progress. (More…)

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The engraving of a painting depicts a pensive looking John Coleridge. He wears judicial robes, a judge's wig, and has a large chain around his neck.

The Court of Common Pleas, also known as the Common Bench or Common Place, was the second highest common law court in the English legal system until 1880, when it was dissolved. As such, the Chief Justice of the Common Pleas was one of the highest judicial officials in England, behind only the Lord High Chancellor and the Lord Chief Justice of the King's (or Queen's) Bench. Initially the position of Chief Justice was not an appointment; of the justices serving in the court, one would become more respected than his peers, and was therefore considered the "chief" justice. The position was formalised in 1272 with the raising of Sir Gilbert of Preston to Chief Justice, and from then on it was considered a formally appointed role similar to the positions of Chief Justice of the King's Bench and Chief Baron of the Exchequer. In 1875 the court was reduced to a division of the High Court of Justice; Alexander Cockburn served as the first Chief Justice of England. The court was dissolved as a body in 1880, when the functions and officials were made part of the Queen's Bench Division of the High Court of Justice. John Coleridge, previously Chief Justice of the Common Pleas, served as the first Chief Justice of the fully unified High Court. (more...)

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Ioan Constantin Filitti (May 8, 1879 – September 21, 1945) was a Romanian historian, diplomat and conservative theorist, best remembered for his contribution to social history, legal history, genealogy and heraldry. A member of the Conservative Party and an assistant of its senior leader Titu Maiorescu, he had aristocratic (boyar) origins and an elitist perspective. Among his diverse contributions, several focus on 19th-century modernization under the Regulamentul Organic regime, during which Romania was ruled upon by the Russian Empire. As a historian, Filitti is noted for his perfectionism, and for constantly revising his own works.

I. C. Filitti had an auspicious debut in diplomacy and politics, but his career was mired in controversy. A "Germanophile" by the start of World War I, he secretly opposed the pact between Romania and the Entente Powers, and opted to stay behind in German-occupied territory. He fell into disgrace for serving the collaborationist Lupu Kostaki as Prefect and head of the National Theater, although he eventually managed to overturn his death sentence for treason. Filitti became a recluse, focusing on his scholarship and press polemics, but was allowed to serve on the Legislative Council after 1926. (more...)

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Photograph taken by the US Government and modified by Beao
The defendants sitting in the dock during the Nuremberg Trials.

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Ashford v Thornton (1818) 106 ER 149 is an English law case in the Court of King's Bench that upheld the right of the defendant, on a private appeal from an acquittal for murder, to trial by battle. In 1817, Abraham Thornton was charged with the murder of Mary Ashford. Thornton had met Ashford at a dance, and had walked with her from the event. The next morning, Ashford was found drowned in a pit, with little outward signs of violence. Although public opinion was heavily against Thornton, the jury quickly acquitted him, and also found him not guilty of rape.

Mary's brother, William Ashford, launched an appeal, and Thornton was rearrested. Thornton claimed the right to trial by battle, a medieval usage that had never been repealed by Parliament. Ashford argued that the evidence against Thornton was overwhelming, and that he was thus ineligible to wage battle.

The court decided that the evidence against Thornton was not overwhelming, and that trial by battle was a permissible option under law; thus Thornton was granted trial by battle. Ashford declined the offer of battle and Thornton was freed from custody. Appeals such as Ashford's were abolished by statute the following year, and with them the right to trial by battle. (more...)

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A filer warning of, among other things, "mental hygiene"

The Alaska Mental Health Enabling Act of 1956 was an Act of Congress passed to improve mental health care in the United States territory of Alaska. Introduced in the House of Representatives by Alaska Congressional Delegate Bob Bartlett in January 1956, it became the focus of a major political controversy. The legislation was opposed by a variety of far-right, anti-Communist and fringe religious groups, prompting what was said to have been the biggest political controversy seen on Capitol Hill since the early 1940s. Prominent opponents nicknamed it the "Siberia Bill" and asserted that it was part of an international Jewish, Roman Catholic or psychiatric conspiracy intended to establish United Nations-run concentration camps in the United States. With the sponsorship of the conservative Republican senator Barry Goldwater, a modified version of the Act was approved unanimously by the United States Senate in July 1956 after only ten minutes of debate. (more...)

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