How Our Criminal Justice System Works

The United States Courts has a great video that discusses how our criminal justice system works. The panel includes: U.S. District Judge Julie Robinson, probation officer Jesse Sorkness and Matt Rowland, from the Probation & Pretrial Services Office. They describe the pretrial and probation process in great detail. You can find this educational video at http://goo.gl/SYidwQ.

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The United States Supreme Court

If you visit Washington, D.C. this summer your itinerary ought to include a visit to the United States Supreme Court. You’ll learn about the current and former Supreme Court justices, and the history of the court. The docents are quite welcoming and extremely knowledgeable, so they can answer your questions about the court.

U.S. Supreme Court Gift Shop

U.S. Supreme Court Gift Shop

Visit the gift shop on the ground floor where you can check out the fun, educational, LAWSUIT!™ board game, or pick up another legal-themed gift for your home or classroom. Find out more at http://goo.gl/W42FQO, and take a look at our Supreme Court Pinterest page at https://goo.gl/NrPLJk.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 21, 1878, seventy-five lawyers established the American Bar Association (“ABA”). Today, this national lawyers’ association has almost 400,000 members.

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To learn more read their mission statement at http://goo.gl/g5KT8h. You’ll also find a timeline of the association’s history at http://goo.gl/lZbSxl.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 19, 1981, President Reagan sent a letter to the U.S. Senate nominating  Sandra Day O’Connor to the United States Supreme Court. Take a look at his letter at https://goo.gl/nA6Bxz. The Senate unanimously confirmed her appointment in a 99-0 vote (http://goo.gl/pJsVjz) and she became the first woman to serve on the Court.

Sandra Day O'Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Her husband, John O'Connor, looks on. (Sept. 25, 1981). Picture courtesy the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.

Sandra Day O’Connor being sworn in as a Supreme Court Justice by Chief Justice Warren Burger. Her husband, John O’Connor, looks on. (Sept. 25, 1981). Picture courtesy the U.S. National Archives & Records Administration.

Learn more about the Justice by listening to a great interview at http://goo.gl/6oxrU6.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 17, 1998, President Clinton testified before a grand jury that was investigating whether he perjured himself when he described his relationship with a White House intern, Monica Lewinsky.

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The Senate acquitted President Clinton on two articles of impeachment

You can listen to the President’s grand jury testimony at http://goo.gl/OtR9uD. After testifying the President spoke to the American people. You’ll find his televised remarks at http://goo.gl/AsJWU3.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 15, 1938, Justice Stephen Breyer was born.

440px-Stephen_Breyer,_SCOTUS_photo_portrait

On May 13, 1994, President Clinton appointed him to the Supreme Court. On July 29, 1994, the Senate confirmed his nomination– the vote was 87-9. Take a look at the Senate’s roll call votes at http://goo.gl/BP1XKU. On August 3, 1994, he was sworn in. Learn more about Justice Breyer at ttp://goo.gl/v8cEUm and http://goo.gl/eySJ34.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 14, 1935, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt signed into law the Social Security Act.  Read the law at http://1.usa.gov/1HLn9Z3.

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935

President Roosevelt signs the Social Security Act into law on August 14, 1935

To learn more watch the Social Security Administration’s video that delves into the history and benefits of the program at http://1.usa.gov/1JX7SKO.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 13, 1818, Lucy Stone was born. She advocated to abolish slavery, but today is best remembered for her work in the women’s rights movement.

Lucy Stone

Lucy Stone

Learn more by listening to Sally McMilllen, author of Lucy Stone: An Unapologetic Life, at http://goo.gl/4VwXhs.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 12, 1937, President Franklin D. Roosevelt nominated Hugo Black to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Justice Hugo Black

Justice Hugo Black

Soon after it was revealed that he had once been a member of the Ku Klux Klan. Nonetheless, the Senate confirmed Black in a vote of 63 to 16. Those who thought he’d be a loyal Klansman were certainly proven wrong. During Black’s tenure the Court unanimously held in Brown v. Board of Education that—“in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Ultimately Justice Hugo Black was viewed as one who championed civil rights. Learn more @ http://goo.gl/rSpb0f.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 11, 1902, President Theodore Roosevelt announced the recess appointment of Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. to the United States Supreme Court after accepting Justice Gray’s resignation.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr.

See President Roosevelt’s letter to Justice Gray at http://goo.gl/S5ZtnF.  To learn about Justice Holmes listen to the Supreme Court Historical Society’s panel discussion– Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. and the Civil War. The panel members discuss his service in the Union Army, as well as his work on the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court and the United States Supreme Court– http://goo.gl/U9GaFH.  Also, Thomas Healy, who wrote The Great Dissent, has spoken in great depth about Holmes’ enormous impact on free speech in America. Listen to an interview with him at http://bit.ly/1P2hdAB.  Notably, Holmes wrote the majority opinion in the landmark decision Schenck v. United States.  Learn more at http://goo.gl/ZmcSle.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 10, 1993, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was sworn in as an Associate Justice on the United States Supreme Court.

The swearing in of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

The swearing in of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

Read more about her at http://bit.ly/1MfCTK6.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 9, 1974, President Nixon became the first, and only, president to resign from office. Take a look at his letter of resignation at http://goo.gl/bkgnWM. The Watergate scandal caused his, and his administration’s demise. Read Special Prosecutor Leon Jaworski’s Memorandum, “Factors to be Considered in Deciding Whether to Prosecute Richard M Nixon for Obstruction of Justice” at https://goo.gl/RzbXFo.

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swearing-in President Gerald Ford

U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice Warren Burger swearing-in President Gerald Ford

Chief Justice Warren Burger swore in Vice President Ford as the 38th president on the same day Nixon resigned. Watch his swearing-in ceremony at https://goo.gl/hmEv3A.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 8, 2009, Sonia Sotomayor was sworn in as the first Hispanic justice to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

United States Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Watch her swearing-in ceremony at http://goo.gl/iVxlaA, and read more about her at http://goo.gl/fzzxJo.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 7, 2010, Elena Kagan was sworn in as the 100th Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. When she was nominated, she was serving as the United States Solicitor General. (Learn about the Solicitor General’s office at http://1.usa.gov/1INUeV3.) Justice Kagan was the first woman to serve as Solicitor General, and the fourth woman to sit on the United States Supreme Court.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 6, 1965, President Johnson signed the Voting Rights Act into law.  Learn about this civil rights legislation at http://1.usa.gov/Nxo1MH and http://bit.ly/1EbC6na.

President Lyndon Johnson handing Martin Luther King, Jr. a pen at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

President Lyndon Johnson handing Martin Luther King, Jr. a pen at the signing of the Voting Rights Act of 1965

I also encourage you to read how we’ve moved away from this  important legislation at http://vrafortoday.org/.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 5, 2010, the Senate confirmed Elena Kagan’s nomination as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court in a 63 to 37 vote.

 Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

Elena Kagan, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States

You can find the Roll Call at http://1.usa.gov/1UlZ7Nj. On August 7 she was sworn in. Find photos of her swearing-in ceremony at http://1.usa.gov/1E6Myft. To learn more about the Justice’s background, listen to the Dean of Northwestern Law School interview her— http://bit.ly/1E7S7dE.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 4, 1735, the trial of publisher John Peter Zenger took place at the site where Federal Hall sits today in Manhattan.

Federal Hall National Memorial

Federal Hall National Memorial

The case arose because Zenger printed the New-York Weekly Journal, which was critical of the Governor of New York and his administration. The Governor accused Zenger of printing seditious libel, so he had him arrested and put on trial. Zenger’s lawyer retorted that the statements published were true. A jury sided with Zenger and found him not guilty. Learn more at http://bit.ly/1OLPRym and http://bit.ly/1x3qUdq.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 3, 1994, Justice Harry Blackmun retired from the Supreme Court after 24 years. He’s probably best known for writing the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade.

Justice Harry Blackmun

Justice Harry Blackmun

On the same day, Stephen Breyer (nominated by President Clinton) was sworn in as the 108th Supreme Court Justice. Take a look at the Court’s record at http://1.usa.gov/1MEDIN6.

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Justice Stephen Breyer

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 2, 1993, President Clinton’s nomination of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice on the Supreme Court was brought to the Senate floor. Read what Senators had to say about her qualifications in the Congressional Record at http://1.usa.gov/1OH7CPk.

The swearing-in of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

The swearing-in of Ruth Bader Ginsburg as an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court

On August 3, her nomination was confirmed by a vote of 96 to 3. Find the Senate roll call vote at http://1.usa.gov/1MEpKMc. On August 10, 1993, Judge Ginsburg (also known as the “Notorious R.B.G.”) was sworn in as the 107th Supreme Court Justice.

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On This Date in Legal History

On August 1, 1779, Francis Scott Key was born.  During the War of 1812 he wrote the lyrics to The Star-Spangled Banner.

Francis_Scott_Key_by_Joseph_Wood_c1825

He was an attorney sent to negotiate the release of an American prisoner. While he was detained by the British, aboard a ship near Baltimore’s harbor, he witnessed Fort McHenry being bombarded. When the sun came up he was delighted to see an American flag flying in the distance. He was inspired to pen the words that became our national anthem (and later set to music). Learn more at https://goo.gl/azcw3t.

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