Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Sutherland Prize to John Beattie on Sir John Fielding

Sutherland Prize Committee of the American Society for Legal History has announced its selection for 2008. Here is the announcement:
The Sutherland Prize, named in honor of the late Donald W. Sutherland, a distinguished historian of the law of medieval England and a mentor of many students, is awarded annually, on the recommendation of the Sutherland Prize Committee of the American Society for Legal History, to the person or persons who wrote the best article on English legal history published in the previous year.

The Sutherland Prize Committee is pleased to recommend that the Sutherland Prize for 2007 be awarded to Professor John Beattie for his article, "Sir John Fielding and Public Justice: The Bow Street Magistrate's Court, 1754-1780," which appeared in volume 25 of Law and History Review. For a number of years, Professor Beattie has been exploring and explaining the makeshift methods for controlling the disorderly street life of London from the Restoration onward. His 2001 book, Policing and Punishment in London 1660-1750 (Oxford University Press) describes in meticulous detail the efforts of the magistrates, constables, thief-takers, and others to cope with the criminal energies of the expanding metropolis. Against this background, Professor Beattie's prize-winning article takes us through the inner workings of the Bow Street Magistrates' Court for the years 1754-1780, under the blind yet watchful eyes of the sitting magistrate, Sir John Fielding. Professor Beattie's research, with clarity and careful documentation, traces the emergence of the Bow Street Court as a pioneering source of public justice. Unsurprisingly, Fielding's innovations offended the status quo and resulted in some degree of public criticism and retraction. Professor Beattie demonstrates nonetheless the lasting beneficial effects of Fielding's accomplishments, in particular his opening of the pre-trial process to public participation.
Hat tip: H-Law

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