Monday, February 16, 2009

Legal News from

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Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Obama Backs Off a Reversal on Secrets

The New York Times reports on the closely watched case of Mohamed et al. v. Jeppesen:

In a closely watched case involving rendition and torture, a lawyer for the Obama administration seemed to surprise a panel of federal appeals judges on Monday by pressing ahead with an argument for preserving state secrets originally developed by the Bush administration.

In the case, Binyam Mohamed, an Ethiopian native, and four other detainees filed suit against a subsidiary of Boeing for arranging flights for the Bush administration’s “extraordinary rendition” program, in which terrorism suspects were secretly taken to other countries, where they say they were tortured.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Family Of Man Cleared By DNA Still Seeks Justice

NPR reports on the nearly 25 year old case of Timothy Cole who was wrongly convicted of rape and died in prison: Family Of Man Cleared By DNA Still Seeks Justice

"In 1985, Timothy Cole was a student in Lubbock when he was arrested and accused of being the Texas Tech rapist. A string of coeds had been raped, and the young African-American man from Fort Worth, who'd never been in trouble with the law before, was convicted largely on the eyewitness account of one rape victim.

"The Innocence Project of Texas sought relief in court to clear Cole's name, but no judge in Lubbock would grant them a hearing. Darnell, the former district attorney who later became a local family court judge, did not respond to repeated requests for an interview. However, he told the Lubbock paper that he regretted what happened to Cole. "

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Defining the Law: 400 Years of Legal Dictionaries

Language evolves. The English used by Chaucer is drastically different than that used by Shakespeare which in turn doesn’t much resemble that used by Stephen King. The argument can be made that were it not for television and modern communication technology American English and British English would inevitably diverge from each other, resulting in two distinct languages. As is, the different pronunciation and slang terms can make it difficult for native speakers from both sides of the pond to understand each other. It is through dictionaries that we can trace the origins and evolution of words. The oldest known dictionary dates from around 2300 BC. It is a bilingual wordlist in Sumerian and Akkadian on a cuneiform tablet. Determining when the first law dictionary was published is difficult, as our knowledge is limited to surviving copies and notations in the historical record. It is not unreasonable to suggest that a legal dictionary in some form existed during the time that Justinian codified Roman law in the 6th century or even when Hammurabi wrote his Code in 1760 BC. Regardless of when the first law dictionary was written, please enjoy this sample of dictionaries from the Special Collections Department. This exhibition will be up through May 31, 2009.