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Bacon and the Law: Findings from our Records and Briefs

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The following is a guest post by Betty Lupinacci, Lead Technician for Legal Processing Workflow Resolution

Record and Brief Boxes at Fort Meade

One of the many ongoing projects in the Collection Services Division of the Law Library of Congress involves the Records & Briefs of the United States Circuit Courts of Appeals.  This material, dating back to the early 1900’s, is being inventoried prior to moving to our facilities at Fort Meade.  To date approximately 200,000 briefs have been inventoried into a searchable database for later retrieval by patrons researching cases at the Law Library.

Sounds kind of dull, doesn’t it?

Well, we are finding it to be anything but.

Depending on the age of the person inputting or reviewing the briefs, we are noticing many familiar names.  By far the elder stateswoman of the group, I am recognizing a lot more of the parties to these cases (e.g., Alan Ludden, Max Baer, Jr., Sante Kimes) than my co-workers, but everyone is sharing in the discoveries.

In fact, last summer the Law Library’s three Junior Fellows found enough material to put together a rather impressive presentation at their end-of-term display which they (privately) titled “Bacon and the Law,” referring to a suit against Oscar Mayer over the size of the window on a package of bacon.  The briefs in this case were full of schematic drawings and photographs of bacon packaging which aroused the curiosity of every passer-by attending the event.  People who might have otherwise quickly perused the Law booth felt compelled to stop and ask what bacon had to do with the law.  And of course then they stayed to look at the other offerings (or see the video below).

Here is a sampling of some of the most fascinating cases we found ourselves paging through before sending them on their way:

  • ‚U. S. v. Arthur Flegenheimer, aka Dutch Schultz (2nd Circuit) where the New York City gangster appealed a 6 month sentence for tax evasion.  The case was prosecuted by Thomas Dewey who, of course, later ran for president against Harry S. Truman

    Volume 1 of the Transcripts from the Alger Hiss Case
  • U. S. v. Alger Hiss (2nd Circuit) a 1950’s perjury trial against the accused Soviet spy
  • U. S. v. John Demjanjuk, aka Iwan Demjanjuk, aka Grozny Ivan (Ivan the Terrible) (6th Circuit) involving deportation proceedings against the alleged Nazi war criminal (Read Hon. James A. Traficant’s remarks on Ivan in the Congressional Record)
  • Cohn v. Ilie Nastase (9th Circuit) where a fan accused the tennis ace of intentionally lobbing a ball at him during a match
  • Bernard L. Madoff v. Daylin, Inc. (9th Circuit) in which the plaintiff sued over the misleading corporate practices of the defendant
  • U. S. v. [  ]  (DC Circuit) many cases involving various parties related to the  Watergate scandal


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