It’s been a wee while since my last blog post, and yet so much has happened, including a relocation from Cambridge to Cornwall, the commencement of my legal career, countless readjustments, and our annual Christmas preparations, and yet one of the more pressing questions was whether, with all of the work ahead of me now and moving forwards, I would be able to find sufficient time to complete my latest and most ambitious book titled ‘United States Law: A Case Study Collection’.
Having worked out how best to finish this labour of both love and a passion for law, I’m now happy to say that I’ve sketched out a plan that will hopefully bring things to a close sooner rather than later, and so I suppose the real purpose of this post is simply to say that I am now firmly back on track, and feel very confident that the book will be published in the first quarter of 2020.
With little more to add besides my palpable sense of relief at picking up the proverbial thread, I will duly sign off and get cracking, as there’s almost two years of arduous legal research and writing just waiting to be shared with the world.
Oh, and should I forget to say it at any point – “A Happy New Year to all!”
As I am now in the preparatory stages of this frankly amazing book, I thought it wise to share with you the work ahead, as for many of you that have never written nor self-published a book before, this kind of information is very useful should you ever decide to ‘take the bull’ by the horns so to speak.
As with any body of work there is a need to edit, proof-read, and index so as to allow future readers the opportunity to navigate the final product as they see fit, and so when reflecting upon how long it took me to finalise ‘The Case Law Compendium’, memory suggests that it took perhaps 1-2 weeks of work, and even then there were noticeable errors once committed to print.
By way of comparison, I have calculated that when working between 7-8 hours per day (without undue interruption), it will take me a little over two months to bring this title to fruition, which as you can imagine is substantially more than my last serious project, however this time around I feel beyond happy inside, and although there are no guarantees that anybody will ever want to buy a copy, I am unashamed to say that I have given all of myself into its writing, and that I have relished absolutely every second of the journey too.
On top of that, my mind and conversely my knowledge of law, is now way beyond anything I could of ever imagined when all of this started, and so if there’s anything that would make me even happier, it would be to have the chance to promote this book across the United States of America (a dream I know), and also to know that thousands of law students and law scholars will draw tremendous benefit from having read it, while to establish myself as a credible legal consultant either here or overseas would simply be the icing on the cake (unless someone out there is willing to help me become a US lawyer, in which case I would probably cry and then pass out).
And so with all of the above now put to electronic ink, I think it’s time for me to get back to work, and look forward to the day when this, my biggest project ever, gets to see the light of day, and hopefully catch the eyes of those seeking legal knowledge in a way never before delivered…so until then please just watch this space and thanks for reading.
The constitutionality of statute drafted and designed to preserve the interests of a State, coupled with the presumption that such laws are irrelevant to the needs of commerce, provide the basis of a case where those later prosecuted are left arguing that word of mouth is sufficient grounds upon which to acquire property.
Having operated as a timber merchant under State licence, the plaintiff in error corporation found themselves in need of a second licence extension following the recent expiration of their previous reissue, and so instead of applying through the proper channels, chose to rely upon verbal declarations of State officials as to their ability to continue removing trees from government land.
For clarity at the time of the offence, § 7 of the Laws of Minnesota 1895 stated that:
“If any person, firm or corporation, without a valid and existing permit therefor, cuts or employs, or induces any other person, firm or corporation to cut, or assist in cutting any timber of whatsoever description, on state lands, or removes or carries away or employs, or induces or assists any other person, firm or corporation to remove or carry away any such timber, or other property, he shall be liable to the state in treble damages, if such trespass is adjudged to have been willful; but double damages only in case the trespass is adjudged to have been casual and involuntary….”
And so when the plaintiff in error’s activities were discovered, the defendant in error brought charges in the District Court of St. Louis County on grounds of wilful trespass, thus claiming treble damages as prescribed.
Here the court found for the defendant in error and awarded damages of around $44,000, whereupon the plaintiff in error challenged the judgment in the Minnesota Supreme Court, who upheld the judgment, while holding that:
“The Legislature may declare that a willful trespass upon the lands of another shall constitute a criminal offense and fix the limits of punishment therefor, either by fine or imprisonment, or by compensating the injured party in damages to be recovered in a civil action, or by both, as its judgment may dictate.”
After which the plaintiff in error appealed on grounds that it had acted in good faith and reliance upon the statements made by those with apparent authority, while in response the court referred to State v. Shevlin-CarpenterCo., in which it had earlier held that:
“Where the defendant is a willful trespasser, the measure of damages is the full value of the property at the time and place of demand; but, if he is only an unintentional or mistaken trespasser,-that is, where he honestly and reasonably believed that he had a legal right to take the property,-then the measure of damages is the value of the property at the time and place and in the condition it was taken.”
Before partially reversing their previous judgment and remanding the matter back in keeping with a significant reduction in damages, thus the plaintiff in error challenged the decision under writ of error in the U.S. Supreme Court on grounds that the statue was violative of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution when denying due process, and that as such, no damages were due.
Having reexamined the facts and constitutional argument, along with the right to protect State property through appropriate statute, the Court reasoned that at no point was the questioned legislation hidden from view, nor remotely difficult to understand, while also noting that contrastingly, at no point in history had trespass ever been considered a harmless act.
In closing the Court also noted that despite the harshness of its construction, the State had proscribed the offence within constitutional bounds, and were therefore sound in their enforcement, after which it upheld the previous judgment in full, while holding that:
“[I]nnocence cannot be asserted of an action which violates existing law, and ignorance of the law will not excuse.”
Having started work on this legal discipline in July 2018, I am just beyond thrilled to announce that this often harrowing, and yet equally compelling chapter of the United States Case Law Compendium is now well and truly finished.
While I’m aware that I listed the first half of this section in a previous blog post, I thought I would show the whole 122 cases here for convenience (plus it also helps me to acknowledge the sheer scale of this entry), and although I’m happy to be moving on to property law, it’s still an ending for me of sorts, and I can honestly say that it’s been an experience that has deepened my understanding of American criminal law to no end, which is more than I could have anticipated, and so my only wish is that potential readers will feel the same when they invest themselves into the cases studied (or rather simplified).
Anyway, without blathering on too much about it all, here is the criminal law section in all of its glory, and my apologies for such a long post.
Today I sit here grinning like a Cheshire cat in the knowledge that I have now completed just over half of the criminal law section of this incredible compendium, and when I calculate the hours spent writing and researching even this chapter, it’s a testament to my perseverance and absolute commitment to completing a body of work that is undoubtedly the biggest writing project I have ever undertaken.
When you consider that each case can take anywhere between 3-5 hours to read, analyse, research and write (and some even longer), and that I have been working on this section alone since late July 2018, my excitement and pride in having got this far is spilling over, and I genuinely cannot wait to see how this book looks and reads when its finally finished next year; while I would also add that its often proved harrowing having to read about some horrific acts of cruelty, not only to adults but also to young and innocent children, and its shown how awful human nature can be sometimes, but then again I wholly accept that it goes with the territory of crime, which perhaps also shows why it’s by far the largest section of the book.
Anyway without waffling on too much about my own struggles, below is a list of the first 63 cases contained within this particular segment, and next week I begin working on the final 61 cases before moving on to property law. Phew!
Today marks exactly one year to the day that I first started writing the ‘voluminous’ Case Law Compendium: United States Case Law, and its pretty incredible to think that so much time has already passed, particularly given that I’m not even midway through the book yet!
Anyway, needless to say my hard work continues on undaunted, and I’m hoping to share the first half of the criminal law section here in the next couple of weeks, so watch this space if you’re interested to learn more…