General Interest

Florida’s Early Federal Legal History (1824-1940)

Around the time of its statehood in 1845, Florida was largely a wet and wild swampland that was very sparsely populated. By way of illustration, the 1840 census registered only 446 people in all of Dade County.1 In barest summary, it was a dangerous, lawless, and violent place by most contemporary accounts. Eastern diamondback rattlesnakes, cottonmouths, brown recluse spiders, Florida …

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The Seldom Told Tale of the United States of America’s First Federal Court

Federal Court History Final Exam (sample question) Question #100 What was the first federal court in the United States of America? U.S. Supreme Court U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York U.S. District Court, District of Massachusetts U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania None of the above Answer Key: The correct answer is “e. None of the above” …

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Law in the Time of Corona1

Cellphone Text Transcript from 16/04/20, 0730 hrs.: “N95 face mask?” “Affixed.” “Hands and forearms scrubbed?” “Affirmative.” “Nitrile gloves?” “Check.” “PPE?” “Roger that.” “What is your heading?” “GPS Coordinates: United States Latitude: 25.7738889 Longitude: -80.1938889 Time zone: US/Eastern Current time zone offset: UTC/ GMT -4 hours.” “Check.” “Final destination?” “To my law office for a court hearing on Zoom.” As a …

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Ancient Roots of ADR: A Brief Sketch of the Early History of Mediation

Quotation (Prolatio) “The courts of this country should not be the places where resolution of disputes begins. They should be the places where the disputes end after alternative methods of resolving disputes have been considered and tried.” — Hon. Sandra Day O’Connor, Assoc. J., SCOTUS (1981-2006) Preface (Praefatio) Since the nascent days of civilization, man has warred upon his fellow …

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Legal Traditions & Trivia: H.C. Black and the Lexicon Magnus

“The dictionary now offered … does not purport to be an epitome or compilation of the body of the law (but) its value is impaired if any single word that may reasonably be sought between its covers is not found there.” Thus wrote Dr. Henry Campbell Black in the sweltering summer heat of Washington, D.C., in 1891, as a prefatory …

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Federal LItigators: Have You Done Your Preliminary Homework On The Judge(s) Assigned to Your Case?

“The law is a jealous Mistress, and requires a long and constant courtship. It is not to be won by the trifling favors, but by lavish homage.”   Prologue “Many have become chess masters, no one has become the master of chess.” So, too, while many attorneys have become litigation masters, no one has become a master of litigation. In …

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Tower of Babel Or Court of Confusion?

Federal Courts And Foreign Languages; Part I: Document Translation “The translator, like the witness called to trial, should be compelled to raise his hand and swear to tell the truth and nothing but the truth.” –Henry Wadsworth Longfellow1 Introduction Tower of Babel or Court of Confusion? The stakeholders in the federal courts can fairly be characterized as a mosaic of …

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Faith or Federalism: Chronicles of the Federal Court in Utah

As my fellow Federal Bar Association members converge on Salt Lake City for the 2015 Annual Meeting and Convention to be held Sept. 10-12, I hope they will carve out some time in their harried schedules to visit the old federal courthouse, a building on the National Historic Register. Observe the Classical Revival style of architecture, the fluted Doric columns, …

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Rhode Island Federal Courts – A History

The very first U.S. Supreme Court decision was West v. Barnes, a federal court case from Rhode Island. That case involved no less than three Rhode Island judges and had more twists and turns than a Grand Prix race course. It represents just one superb example of the fertile and fascinating history of the federal courts in the Ocean State. …

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