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 - 278 pages
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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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THE LIFE OF THE LAW: The People and Cases That Have Shaped Our Society, from King Alfred to Rodney King

User Review  - Kirkus

An absorbing and well-written introductory history to Anglo- American law which should edify lawyer and layperson alike. Attorney Knight's book takes its title from the famous quote of Oliver Wendell ... Read full review

The life of the law: the people and cases that have shaped our society, from King Alfred to Rodney King

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

Knight, a practicing attorney and former federal prosecutor, has put together a brilliant compendium of 21 essays that chronicle the growth and development of individual rights and liberties within ... Read full review


Nationalizing English Justice Late Ninth Century
The Rule of Law 1215
The Bar Is Born 1291
Binding Precedent 1454
Man Against the State 1535
The Right to Confront Accusers 1603
Judicial Review 1610
Constructive Treason 1807
Equality as Law 1853
Unreasonable Searches and Seizures Continued 1886
The Right of Privacy 1890
The Right to Counsel 1942
Equality as Law Continued 1954
Freedom of the Press Continued 1964
Trial by Jury 1993

The Privilege Against Selfincrimination 1649
Freedom of the Press 1735
The Bill of Rights 1791

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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 & Knight in Nashville, Tennessee.

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