Pierson v. Post, The Hunt for the Fox
Law and Professionalization in American Legal Culture
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- Author: Angela Fernandez, University of Toronto
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The 1805 New York foxhunting case Pierson v. Post has long been used in American property law classrooms to introduce law students to the concept of first possession by asking how one establishes possession of a wild animal. In this book, Professor Angela Fernandez retells the history of the famous fox case, from its origins as a squabble between two wealthy young men on the South Fork of Long Island through its appeal to the New York Supreme Court and entry into legal treatises, law school casebooks, and law journal articles, where it still occupies a central place. Professor Fernandez argues that the dissent is best understood as an example of legal solemn foolery. Yet it has been treated by legal professionals, the lawyers of its day, and subsequent legal academics in such a serious way, demonstrating how the solemn and the silly can occupy two sides of the same coin in American legal history.Read more
- Challenges the view that the law of capture is best and seeks to restore to the case features which have been edited out of its reproduction in law school casebooks
- Uses the methods of social history, intellectual history, and law as literary text, appealing to historians immersed in a range of methodological approaches
- Begins with an excavation of the details surrounding the case, correcting factual errors, and drawing on the author's discovery of the original judgment roll
Reviews & endorsements
'A new generation of legal historians now has its leading essayist. Fernandez explodes the 'cases in context' genre with essays ranging across literary, social and intellectual history. Sprightly, but with painstaking research and impressive learning, she discovers in a judge's witticisms fresh insights into how lawyers and law professors distance themselves from the strife from which they profit.' Daniel Ernst, Georgetown University, Washington, DCSee more reviews
'Fernandez' masterful book comprehensively reinterprets one of the great old chestnuts of American legal history. Her glittering prose and impressive research make this a must read for historians, lawyers and anyone seeking to understand how the law worked and what it has come to mean.' Gautham Rao, American University, Washington, DC
'In this splendid work of legal archaeology, Fernandez painstakingly reconstructs the strange career of Pierson v. Post, shining considerable light on the professional culture within which it has attained the status of a leading case. Deeply researched and beautifully crafted, this book is a major contribution to the field of legal history, prompting critical reflection on the ways and means by which conventional wisdom is constructed and reconstructed over time.' Susanna Blumenthal, University of Minnesota
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- Date Published: September 2018
- format: Adobe eBook Reader
- isbn: 9781108340632
- contains: 17 b/w illus.
- availability: This ISBN is for an eBook version which is distributed on our behalf by a third party.
Table of Contents
Part I. The Literary History of Pierson:
1. Solemn foolery
2. Rabelaisian play
Part II. The Social History of Pierson:
3. Local justice
5. The legal fictions needed for a state of nature debate
Part III. The Intellectual History of Pierson:
6. The reporter
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