Lord Mansfield, US Law, and an Oil Painting

An interesting podcast from the ABA discussing Prof. Norman S Posner’s new book on the impact of Lord Mansfield on American law. This includes

• A confession must be voluntary to be admissible as evidence.

• Libel is not protected by the First Amendment.

• Custody disputes are decided based upon the welfare of the child.

• Electronic surveillance for domestic security purposes requires a warrant.

• Habeas corpus applies to prisoners being held by the government even outside the geographical boundaries of the United States.

I am not sure that he has any longer quite such an influence in the UK, not least because many of these issues are dealt with by statute. I was aware of the Somerset case, where he held that slavery did not exist in England (in the absence of a statute establishing it).

Access the podcast here.

As it happens, the Daily Mail also mentioned Lord Mansfield last week. There is a new film inspired by a Mansfield family double portrait which depicts a young black woman, Dido Elizabeth Belle. This was highly unusual in the 1770/80’s, and the story gives a background to Mansfield’s decision in the Somerset case. Read it here.



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