Welcome to the home page of H-LAW, a Humanities Social Sciences Online discussion network. H-LAW solicits discussion of issues relating to teaching and research in the history of all legal traditions: common-law, civil-law, and all other legal systems.

Recent Content

Re: Are the negative responses of the FBI to Freedom of Information Act requests reliable?

I do not know if responses from the FBI are reliable, but maybe reply with a request to reconsider and/or clarify that the FBI's position is that records do not exist (as opposed to records not being provided and your request being denied, which is an appealable decision).

Perhaps another FOIA request to a different agency? Maybe the Department of Justice, or even possibly the National Archives?

I'm not sure whether it would produce any different or better results, but maybe a request somewhere else will help you find what you are looking for.

Are the negative responses of the FBI to Freedom of Information Act requests reliable?

For a biography I'm working on, I submitted to the FBI a FOIA search request about a congressman of the first half of the 29th century, about whom I thought J. Edgar Hoover might have maintained a file. I explicitly added that my request included Hoover's files as well as all of the agency's records.

The response back was "no records."

Can I rely on that response? Does the FBI make THOROUGH searches?

Are Hoover's famous files on various politicians and others DEFINITELY INCLUDED in such a search by the FBI?

Is there anything else I could do?

Re: Histories of Courtroom Procedure Especially Judges and Lawyers in Court

Hi John,

Sorry I am not figuring out how to get into/reply via H-Law at the moment so replying off line,, here are two suggestions that may be of interest.

Amalia Kessler, Inventing American Exceptionalism, has a lot about 19th century courtroom performance and adversarialism.

A book about 18th century England, but that might be interesting, is called The Bar and the Old Bailey (I think?).. has a lot on the invention of criminal defense advocacy and performance.

Re: Histories of Courtroom Procedure Especially Judges and Lawyers in Court

John,
There are reasonable descriptions of the work that a colonial lawyer would do at the beginning of multi-volume works, where editors set up what the collections do. Bear in mind that the paperwork being explained shows little of how it would be read or acted upon by a judge, but in passing, there are comments made about how lawyers and judges interacted.
L. Kinvin Wroth & Hiller Zobel, eds,. Legal Papers of John Adams
Edward Hanson and Neil York, eds, Papers of Robert Treat Paine