Course Details

Legal History Workshop

The Legal History Workshop is a hands-on course offering the opportunity to practice modern lawyering skills using historical legal material. This workshop will explore the case of Attorney General v. Newton & Herbert (Grocers’ Case) heard in the English Court of Star Chamber in 1621. It is one of the most extensive, and puzzling, cases coming out of that court. The accusation was simple: Newton and Herbert were London grocers said to have deceived their customers by false weighing. False weights and measures were a constant problem in premodern Europe, and merchants were disciplined for these frauds with regularity, though usually in local or guild courts. Yet this case, although ordinary in its facts, generated almost 300 pages of deposition testimony heard by a court staffed by the highest lords in the land. The dispute also led to a libel suit in Star Chamber, debates in the Grocers’ guild, and petitions to the House of Lords. In addition, the whole conflict seems to have started from an earlier contract dispute brought against Newton in the Court of Chancery, a dispute that may itself have been manufactured by disgruntled former apprentices. What made this seemingly mundane case spin out of control? We will read the Grocers’ Case record, and the other legal disputes associated with it, to try to answer that question. Working in teams, the students will prepare the case for litigation, drafting trial memos and briefs. Then, with two students arguing as lawyers and the rest of the class sitting as the judges of the Star Chamber, we will hold a trial late in the semester to decide how the case should come out. The professor will provide all course material.

Catalog Number: LAWSTUDY 668
Additional Course Information: Perspective Elective

Course History

Fall 2017
Title: Legal History Workshop
Faculty: Kadens, Emily (courses | profile)
Section: 1     Credits: 2.0
Capacity: 25     Actual: 10