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The Mueller Report: Initial Thoughts

To understand the Mueller Report, which I have now read once (and I will re-read it multiple times), I have three initial observations:      1. To understand a report like this, the reader must keep in mind the three standards or levels of "proof" that U.S. courts use to determine facts in matters of controversy or dispute. The first two apply in civil cases; the third applies in criminal prosecutions.           A. The first, and lowest, level is "preponderance of the evidence," defined as "The greater weight of the evidence . . . though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt . . . still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other."           B. The second, and middle, standard is "clear and convincing evidence," defined as "[e]vidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain."           C. The third, and most difficult,…
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Law and Literature -- my review of a novel by a Dallas bankruptcy judge

Archives and Special Collections--Current Issues

Harry Hunt Ransom (1908-1976) was born and raised in Galveston and attended and graduated from Sewanee in 1928. He then earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in English at Yale. His career was at UT Austin, where he ultimately became President and Chancellor. His greatest legacy is the Harry Ransom Center (the “HRC”), located on the southwest corner of the Austin campus; it is, simply put, one of the preeminent literary archives and library of special collections in the world.

My wife and I just attended the April 4-6, 2019, symposium at the HRC on the broad topic of “Ethical Challenges in Cultural Stewardship.” Foresightedly, the HRC formulated an agenda for short presentations and panel discussions that illustrate and illuminate the cutting-edge issues that the HRC and all such collections are or should be addressing, such as: where a collection really belongs; ethical issues in the reexamination of existing collections; how should institutions responsibly collect, curate, interpret, and provi…

Thoughts about The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History

For those unacquainted with the sources for U.S. legal history, the new book by John B. Nann and Morris L. Cohen (probably today's preeminent legal librarian) titled Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History (New Haven: Yale U. Press, 2018) is a great introduction. It is very well organized and clearly written. It proceeds by meaningful time periods, and it provides an ongoing explanation of key themes and legal developments in those periods that ties into the description of the pertinent sources.

I've read the book, and no diminution of it to say that I learned nothing specifically germane to the research in which I am engaged, which is from 1850 to 1950, that I didn't already know but the book refreshed and reminded me about some resources. I recommend the book to historians, students, and scholars of all types who wish to delve into legal history but have not previously swum deeply or for long distances in those waters.

Having been investing some time …

In Memory of Keith W. Harvey

My remarks at a Celebration of Life of Keith W. Harvey (1952-2019) held on March 11, 2019 Dallas, Texas
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Together, my wife Susan and I knew Keith over most of his life. Susan knew him first, from school and growing up in Tyler, Texas in the sixties, and most specifically from the debate program at Lee High School in that town.

I then met him in some Chapter 11 cases, beginning in 1988—we met his wife Paula that same year, over a memorable dinner at a café on Lower Greenville— and continuing over the years, in cases in Dallas and in the Eastern District.

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I always knew that Keith was a lawyer with an active mind that ranged beyond our Bankruptcy Code and Bankruptcy Rules, the case reporters, and the Collier’s on Bankruptcy treatise.

He read widely—when Susan and I visited him for the last time, at his and Paula’s house, his brother David brought out Keith’s large, deep basket of books from his bedside. A bibliography of those books would easily furnish the syllabus for a graduate-lev…

"Trust me, I’m a Historian" - Part 3

In 1970 my parents met and became friends with a British couple, Jane and J.W. "Jamie" Dalgleish of Cardiff, Wales. My mother is now 92 and in going through her "archives" just found this photocopy of a newspaper clipping. It is a letter to the editor of the London Times, undated[1], written by Jamie. 
     I see it in a point for legal historians.
     Jamie Dalgleish was an officer of C.H. Bailey Ltd., a venerable firm engaged in the business of drydocks and related engineering services. In this letter to the editor, he replies to an earlier letter to editor of the London Times by an English vice-admiral, Sir John Lang, recalling a negotiating meeting held in the Admiralty in 1959 (so more one or two decades earlier) with Jamie's company regarding "Malta Drydock." 
     In that prior letter, Lang had recalled the navy's representatives passing a note across the table to the C.H. Bailey Ltd. team, which included Jamie. It was in verse:
And …

“Trust me, I’m a Historian” - Part 2

This is the second in my series of occasional explorations of the concept of "legal history". . . .

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In my work as Chair of the Legal History Discussion Group of the Dallas Bar Association (the subject of a prior posting), I have consistently used the rubric "the history of law, lawyers, and courts" to describe the ambit of presentations by the Group to the lawyers of Dallas. One of the allures of these presentations for lawyers is the award of "continuing legal education" credit for attendance; and it helps me to obtain CLE accreditation to explain in the application how the presenter's topic embraces at least one of those elements, law, lawyers, or courts. "Law, lawyers, and courts" is a theme that practicing lawyers readily apprehend.

But I always add to the formula, "law, lawyers, and courts," an enlarging phrase, "broadly construed." And if one peruses the list of our Group&…