The Life of the Law: The People and Cases that Have Shaped Our Society, from King Alfred to Rodney King

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Oxford University Press, 1998 - History - 278 pages
Law is intended to apply to common life and should be comprehensible to ordinary folk, but increasingly, it is not. The meaning of the law is becoming inaccessible, not only to the public but to the bar itself. In The Life of the Law, Alfred H. Knight outlines how some of the main contours of American law came to be as he recounts twenty-one stories beginning with Alfred the Great in the late ninth century and ending with the Rodney King trials in 1993.
Knight gives us a veritable "biography" of our legal tradition by focusing on the key individuals, and the pivotal cases that have helped to mold the law as we know it today. The Life of the Law finds a riveting story behind each historic decision and recounts the tales with both narrative flair and ironic wit.
The law is a living organism, constantly changing as new cases are decided, building on and modifying decisions that went before. Every case, no matter how lofty the principles involved, represents a human drama, a clash of competing desires. Alfred Knight's reflections on how twenty-one of these cases have left their mark on our society will inform and fascinate anyone interested in the law.

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Contents

INTRODUCTION
1
NATIONALIZING ENGLISH JUSTICE Late Ninth Century
7
THE RULE OF LAW 1215
16
THE BAR IS BORN 1291
26
BINDING PRECEDENT 1454
33
MAN AGAINST THE STATE 1535
49
THE RIGHT TO CONFRONT ACCUSERS 1603
62
JUDICIAL REVIEW 1610
71
THE BILL OF RIGHTS 1791
126
CONSTRUCTIVE TREASON 1807
137
EQUALITY AS LAW 1853
152
UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES CONTINUED 1886
163
THE RIGHT OF PRIVACY 1890
176
THE RIGHT TO COUNSEL 1942
198
EQUALITY AS LAW CONTINUED 1954
216
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS CONTINUED 1964
228

THE PRIVILEGE AGAINST SELFINCRIMINATION 1649
89
FREEDOM OF THE PRESS 1735
100
UNREASONABLE SEARCHES AND SEIZURES 176165
115
TRIAL BY JURY 1993
243
Epilogue
259
Copyright

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About the author (1998)

Alfred H. Knight is a trial lawyer specializing in media and first amendment law, and a former teaching fellow at Harvard Law School. He is currently a partner at Willis and Knight in Nashville, Tennessee.

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