History Of Law Essay, Research Paper
The history of law is very interesting. No one can really say when law began. The earliest known written law of which a copy has been found, is Ur-Nammu?s Code of 2050 BC. The copy of the code is in such bad shape, that we have only been able to decipher five articles. Archaeological evidence shows that this code was supported by an advanced legal system. The system included: specialized judges, the giving of testimony under oath, the proper form of judicial decisions, and the ability of the judges to order that damages be paid to the victim by the guilty party. I find that pretty amazing! To think that these people were this advanced in 2050 BC!
The earliest known legal decision was made in 1850 BC. We know of this case, because of a clay tablet. According to the tablet, a temple employee was murdered by three men. The victim?s wife knew of the murder, but she remained silent. Eventually the three men and the woman were charged of murder. Nine witnesses testified against the men and the woman, and they asked for the death penalty for all four. The woman had two witnesses that told the court that she had been abused by her husband, she was not part of the murder, and that she was even worse off after her husband?s death. The three men were executed in front of the victim?s house. The woman however, was spared.
There are many other codes and laws of the past, but I will not get into all of them right now. In 700, fingerprinting was invented by the Chinese, as a means of identifying people. In 1100, the first law school was started. In medieval Italy, when a student of law wanted to learn the laws, they would hire a teacher. One teacher by the name of Irnerius, was very popular. Students began to seek him from all over Europe. He taught in Bologna, and because he had so many students, he had to hire other teachers to form the world?s first law school. By 1150, his law school had over 10,000 students!
In 1215, the Magna Carta came along. At Runneymede, England, on June 15, 1215, King John of England signed the Magna Carta in which he conceded a number of legal rights to his barons and to the people. The Magna Carta had 61 clauses, the most important of which may have been clause #39. “No freeman shall be captured or imprisoned?.except by lawful judgement of his peers or by the law of the land”. It was the first time a king had said that he was not above the law. In 1776, came the Declaration of Independence. In 1787 came the Constitution of the United States of America. The Bill of Rights came about in 1791. In 1803, came the case of Marbury vs. Madison. This case is considered by the legal profession to be the most important milestone in the history of American law, since the Constitution.
There are many famous people that have been lawyers, or lawyers assistants. Charles Darrow (1857-1938) is perhaps the most famous of all American lawyers. Darrow often took unpopular cases, defending against sedition charges after World War1, defending a black family from murder charges in Detroit, and in perhaps his most famous case, defending teacher John Scopes who was accused of breaking a state law by presenting Darwin?s theories of evolution to high school students. Darrow was also a published author and public speaker, promoting his personal convictions including freedom of expression and of association and opposition to capital punishment. Charles Dickens (1812-1870) worked as a clerk in a law office at the age of 15. He began to report on law cases and the debates of Parliament. Yes, this is the same Dickens that wrote Oliver Twist, David Copperfield, A Tale of Two Cities, and so on.