Portal:Law

Portal:Law

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Introduction

Lady Justice, a goddess symbolising justice who bears a sword – symbolising the coercive power of a tribunal –, scales – representing an objective standard by which competing claims are weighed – and a blindfold indicating that justice should be impartial and meted out objectively, without fear or favor and regardless of money, wealth, power or identity.

Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.

A general distinction can be made between (a) civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, and (b) common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law. Historically, religious laws played a significant role even in settling of secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most widely used religious law, and is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia.

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Selected article

The gleaming white building of the United States Supreme Court, appearing like a Greek temple, stands out against a clear blue sky. Above the pillars is inscribed "EQUAL JUSTICE UNDER LAW".

The LaRouche criminal trials in the mid-1980s stemmed from federal and state investigations into the activities of American political activist Lyndon LaRouche and members of his movement. They were charged with conspiring to commit fraud and soliciting loans they had no intention of repaying. LaRouche and his supporters disputed the charges, claiming the trials were politically motivated.

In 1986, hundreds of state and federal officers raided LaRouche offices in Virginia and Massachusetts. After a short trial in 1988, LaRouche was convicted of mail fraud, conspiracy to commit mail fraud, and tax evasion, and was sentenced to prison for fifteen years. He entered prison in 1989 and was paroled five years later. At the same trial, his associates received lesser sentences for mail fraud and conspiracy. In separate state trials in Virginia and New York, 13 associates received terms ranging from one month to 77 years. The Virginia state trials were described as the highest-profile cases that the state Attorney General's office had ever prosecuted. Fourteen states issued injunctions against LaRouche-related organizations. Three LaRouche-related organizations were forced into bankruptcy after failing to pay contempt of court fines.

Defense lawyers filed numerous unsuccessful appeals that challenged the conduct of the grand jury, the contempt fines, the execution of the search warrants and various trial procedures. Following the convictions, the LaRouche movement mounted failed attempts at exoneration. (more...)

Selected biography

William Garrow sits, manuscript in his right hand and seated to the right but with his head facing forward. He has short curly hair and large eyes and is wearing a coat and a Regency style neckcloth.

Sir William Garrow KC, PC, FRS (13 April 1760 – 24 September 1840) was a British barrister, politician and judge known for his indirect reform of the advocacy system, which helped usher in the adversarial court system used in most common law nations today. He introduced the phrase "presumed innocent until proven guilty", insisting that defendants' accusers and their evidence be thoroughly tested in court.

Garrow is best known for his criminal defence work, which, through the example he set with his aggressive defence of clients, helped establish the modern adversarial system in use in the United Kingdom, the United States, and other former British colonies. Garrow is also known for his impact on the rules of evidence, leading to the best evidence rule. His work was cited as recently as 1982 in the Supreme Court of Canada and 2006 in the Irish Court of Criminal Appeal. (more...)

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A photograph on the left shows a thin man with a small moustache; a photograph on the right shows a large man with a beard but no moustache; the central image is the blended product of these images

The Tichborne case was a legal cause célèbre that captivated Victorian England in the 1860s and 1870s. It concerned the claims by an individual sometimes referred to as Thomas Castro or as Arthur Orton, but usually termed "the Claimant", to be the missing heir to the Tichborne baronetcy. He failed to convince the courts, was convicted of perjury and served a long prison sentence.

Roger Tichborne, heir to the family's title and fortunes, had disappeared after a shipwreck in 1854. His mother clung to a belief that he might have survived, and after hearing rumours that he had made his way to Australia, she advertised extensively in Australian newspapers offering a reward for information. In 1866 a butcher known as Thomas Castro from Wagga Wagga came forward claiming to be Roger Tichborne; although his manners and bearing were unrefined, he gathered support and travelled to England. He was instantly accepted by Lady Tichborne as her son, although other family members were dismissive and sought to expose him as an imposter. (more...)

Selected statute

The first page of the Accurate News and Information Act

The Accurate News and Information Act was a statute passed by the Legislative Assembly of Alberta, Canada, in 1937, at the instigation of William Aberhart's Social Credit government. Aberhart and the Social Credit League had been in a stormy relationship with the press since before the 1935 election, in which they were elected to government. Virtually all of Alberta's newspapers—especially the Calgary Herald—were critical of Social Credit, as were a number of publications from elsewhere in Canada. Even the American media had greeted Aberhart's election with derision. The act would have required newspapers to print "clarifications" of stories that a committee of Social Credit legislators deemed inaccurate. It would also have required them to reveal their sources on demand. Though the act won easy passage through the Social Credit-dominated legislature, Lieutenant-Governor of Alberta John C. Bowen reserved royal assent until the Supreme Court of Canada evaluated the act's legality. In 1938's Reference re Alberta Statutes, the court found that it was unconstitutional, and it was never signed into law. (more...)

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