2004 Annual Report

:: 2004 Board of Directors Meeting ::
Austin, Texas
Stephen F. Austin Intercontinental & the Driskill Hotels

The American Society for Legal History announced the winners of its Surrency and Sutherland Prizes at the Austin meeting.

The Committee recommends that the Surrency Prize for 2004 for the best article appearing in Vol, 21, Law and History Review, be awarded jointly to the following:

Daniel J. Hulsebosch, for “The Ancient Constitution and the Expanding Empire: Sir Edward Coke’s British Jurisprudence.”

Professor Hulsebosch surveys afresh Sir Edward Coke’s constitutional jurisprudence, in order to clarify Coke’s views of the rights and liberties of the King’s subjects in Britain and in the overseas empire, and to contrast Coke’s actual views with the later uses made of them by rebellious American colonists. He gives us a Coke still immersed in seventeenth-century ideas of common law as one of many jurisdictions, as applying to England rather than to British subjects, and as jurisdictional “tied to specific remedies in specific courts” rather than a substantive jurisprudence of principle. But he also shows how, through mediaeval-sounding doctrines such as personal ligeance of subjects to their King, Coke unintentionally pioneered a free-floating jurisprudence of English liberty. Eighteenth-century colonial lawyers pried the arguments loose from their original local and institutional matrix to convert them to a law of fundamental rights enforceable by subjects abroad even without English courts to enforce them in. Written with grace and vigor, the article brings bright new light to old debates over the constitution of empire.


Sarah Hanley, for “‘The Jurisprudence of the Arrets’: Marital Union, Civil Society, and State Formation in France, 1550-1650.”

Professor Hanley tells, from previously unexplored sources, the fascinating story of how early-modern French jurists built up a body of decisions (arrets) on marital law that aggressively challenged and revised canon law doctrines and jurisdiction, especially by repudiating those church doctrines that permitted clandestine marriages. The jurists had their decisions ratified and reinforced by a series of statutes (Ordinances) that sought to displace church law “by means of bringing criminal charges against abettors of marriages they deemed illicit and granting appeals to those who sought escape from them” with a distinctively French “Marital Law Compact.” Only public marriages, they argued, recognized by a public jurisprudence of arrets in civil courts could form the families that in turn would constitute French civil society and the French nation. Closely argued and carefully supported, this remarkably original and eye-opening article convincingly demonstrates how secular jurists deployed marriage law as an instrument of state-building.


The Sutherland Prize for 2004 is shared between:

Professor Eliga Gould, of the University of New Hampshire, for his article, “Zones of Law, Zones of Violence: The Legal Geography of the British Atlantic, circa 1772,” 60 William and Mary Quarterly 471-510 (2003),

Professor Gould’s article charts the legal geography of the Atlantic portions of the British Empire. The article skillfully weaves together two important threads in recent scholarship: the rise of Atlantic history and the emergence of legal geography as an analytical category. The cartological metaphor hearkens back to Blackstone, who saw his Commentaries as a map of English law. The article successfully deploys the metaphor to illuminate the tensions between the Empire’s center and periphery, and the recurring violence within the Atlantic world. Indeed, as the article persuasively demonstrates, the legal pluralism of that world was itself the source of conflict.


Professor Daniel Klerman, of the University of Southern California, for his article, “Was the Jury Ever Self-Informing?” 77 Southern California Law Review123-149 (2003).

Professor Klerman’s article addresses a question of fundamental importance to the history of the jury. Recent scholarship, focusing on the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, has questioned whether the medieval jury was ever self-informing. Drawing on an extensive array of primary sources from the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, the article convincingly answers the question in the affirmative. Jurors in the thirteenth century primarily gained information in advance of trial; there were instances of witness testimony, but these were uncommon. Why then did the self-informing jury decline? The article points, among other factors, to two changes in criminal procedure: the transition from infrequent eyre to twice-yearly jail delivery, which made it hard to recruit local jurors, and the exclusion of presenting jurors from the trial jury, which deprived the latter body of the people most knowledgeable about the accusation. Self-informing, as Professor Klerman persuasively explains, was a matter of degree: largely present in the thirteenth century, noticeably more absent by the fifteenth.