Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Porwancher on "John Henry Wigmore and the Rules of Evidence"

New from the University of Missouri Press: John Henry Wigmore and the Rules of Evidence: The Hidden Origins of Modern Law (May 2016), by Andrew Porwancher (University of Oklahoma). A description from the Press:
At the dawn of the twentieth century, the United States was reeling from the effects of rapid urbanization and industrialization. Time-honored verities proved obsolete, and intellectuals in all fields sought ways to make sense of an increasingly unfamiliar reality. The legal system in particular began to buckle under the weight of its anachronism. In the midst of this crisis, John Henry Wigmore, dean of the Northwestern University School of Law, single-handedly modernized the jury trial with his 1904-5 Treatise on evidence, an encyclopedic work that dominated the conduct of trials. In so doing, he inspired generations of progressive jurists—among them Oliver Wendell Holmes, Jr., Benjamin Cardozo, and Felix Frankfurter—to reshape American law to meet the demands of a new era. Yet Wigmore’s role as a prophet of modernity has slipped into obscurity. This book provides a radical reappraisal of his place in the birth of modern legal thought.
A few blurbs:
“[The book] will become the standard work on the subject, and more than that, will contribute to emerging clarity in the field of early twentieth-century legal ideas more broadly.”—Noah Feldman
“It evidences a close reading of Wigmore’s work and extensive work in the archives at Harvard and Northwestern, bringing to light a good deal of new material on the connections among important figures in ‘legal modernism.’”—Robert P. Burns
More information is available here.

1 comment:

Shag from Brookline said...

Back in the early 1950s when I was in law school I purchased for $0.50 a 1915 Pocket Edition of Wigmore on evidence with MA annotations. It was quite lengthy (over 700 pages) with small font and I rarely referred to it, preferring the shorter and up to date (then) Leach handbook on MA trial evidence. I still have the book and perhaps a law school in the Boston area might be interested - no charge of course.