125 Years Ago
July 1888: State Supreme Court Justice Edward Scudder ruled, in State v. Manasquan Borough, that an individual citizen had no standing to defeat the incorporation of a municipality by attacking the constitutionality of the statute that authorized it. “Such a proceeding can only be brought by the Attorney General in the nature of a quo warranto. Even a court of equity cannot interfere,” he wrote. “If it were otherwise, any dissatisfied voter could upset everything at his pleasure.”
100 Years Ago
July 1913: The Law Journal editors looked back on the difficulties of executing on judgments in colonial times. In a 1751 case, a sheriff wrote, “not executed by reason there is no road to the place where [defendant] lives.” In a 1752 case, “not executed by reason of an ax” (apparently wielded by the defendant). In another, “not executed because the defendant’s horse was faster than mine.” And in 1755, “forty-nine executions returned not executed, by reason of the disturbance of the Indians.”
75 Years Ago
July 28, 1938: A new wage-and-hour law signed June 25 promised to make work for lawyers by creating a civil action for workers paid less than minimum wage or employed for a longer work week without payment of overtime. The employee could recover not only the amounts due but also liquidated damages. The law allowed suits to be brought as class actions and an award of attorneys’ fees to class counsel.
50 Years Ago
August 1, 1963: A special committee of the American Bar Association was investigating ceilings that 49 federal agencies and departments placed on the fees lawyers could charge for representing a client before them. Some were specified in statutes, others set by administrative fiat. Many lawyers contended that the fee limitation were so unrealistic that they in effect denied competent counsel to citizens who needed it.
25 Years Ago
July 28, 1988: U.S. Attorney Samuel Alito Jr. moved to disqualify two of his predecessors, William Robertson and Robert Del Tufo, and their firm Hannoch Weisman, from representing a defendant in a racketeering case that was under investigation while they were prosecutors. Alito argued they had access to confidential data about the case against trucking company executive Francis Walsh Jr., charged with negotiating sweetheart labor contracts by paying off mobsters in control of the Teamsters.