Clock_Tower_-_Palace_of_Westminster,_London_-_May_2007 This week I will be blogging from London, England. Today will be the first day, though I arrive around 10 pm in London. I will be speaking at the 800th anniversary of the Magna Carta. I will be participating on a program organized by Hon. Delissa A. Ridgway, Judge of the United States Court of International Trade entitled “What if . . . there had been no Magna Carta?”

Judge Ridgway has continued her truly global reputation as one of the leading intellectuals of the judiciary from her ground-breaking work on “the cultural defense” to her comprehensive work on comparative legal issues.

I am honored to serve as a moderator on the panel as well as a participant in the discussion. The panel will include three internationally renowned figures.

2013diversity_donald_at_podium_crop-full;size$583,410.ImageHandlerFirst, there is the Honorable Bernice B. Donald of the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit. I have had the distinct honor of appearing with Judge Donald at various events over the years. She is truly a woman of “firsts” who career has been celebrated as a triumph of intellect and passion in the law. In 2010, she became the the first African-American female judge to be placed on the Sixth Circuit. She was, in 1982, the first African-American female judge in the history of Tennessee. In 1988, she was appointed to the U.S. Bankruptcy Court, becoming the first woman in the history of the United States to serve as a bankruptcy judge. In 1995, she was appointed by President Bill Clinton to serve on the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee. She has been a leading voice for the rule of law on an international scale.

c_clark_lj1We are especially fortunate to an equally towering figure from the English courts: The Right Honourable Lord Justice Christopher Clarke, Court of Appeal. Sir Christopher Clarke was called to the Bar in Middle Temple in 1969 and was appointed as a Queen’s Counsel in 1984. From 1990-2004, he served as a Recorder and a Deputy High Court Judge from 1993-2004. He was a Judge of the Court of Appeal of Jersey and Guernsey from 1998 to 2004. From 2005-2013, he was a High Court Judge, sitting in the Commercial Court. In 2014, he was appointed as a Lord Justice of Appeal in 2013. Like Judge Donald, Sir Clarke has remained a powerful intellectual force on the bench and in the bar.

ian-williams-profileLast, but certainly not least, is Ian S. Williams, of the University College of London Law. Dr. Williams is a leading expert on early-modern legal reasoning and theory. He is also working on the theory and practice of the court of Star Chamber as a court of equity and the idea of the Chancery as a prerogative court. His work currently focuses on the work and influence of the Elizabethan scholar William Lambarde. Dr. Williams’ publications are too extensive to recount here but would the envy of any academic. In a field with hundreds of years of scholarship, Dr. Williams is viewed as one of the great new minds in English legal theory. Dr. Williams was just honored with the Selden Society’s David Yale Prize, for his “distinguished contribution to the history of the laws and legal institutions of England and Wales.”

It is frankly a far too grand company for the likes of me. However, despite the feeling of “country come to town,” I am looking forward to our session immensely. I am also looking forward to planned events with the House of Commons and the Lincoln’s Inn as well the usual irresistible tourist attractions of London. I will be trying to post during this week but that will depend on sleep deprivation and a myriad of distractions. Please be patient but I hope to share some of my usual highly subjective review of restaurants, pubs, and hotels. As many of you know, my particular love is military history so London is an overwhelming attraction as the very font for much of American and world history. I will certainly not do it justice on this blog but I expect to have a ball trying to do so.



  1. Professor Turley, please let me know if you brush shoulders with any Pophams on your journey. Ancestors on my mother’s side included John Sherman Popham of Charleston, Illinois, and some interesting historical figures.

    To wit:

    Sir John Popham (1531-1607), Lord Chief Justice. (1602 portrait by unknown artist, collection of Harvard Law School). Born 1531, Huntworth, nr North Petherton, Somerset Died 10 June 1607 (aged 76) Wellington, Somerset

    He was born in Huntworth, near North Petherton in Somerset in 1531 to Alexander Popham by his wife Jane Stradling, daughter of Sir Edward Stradling of St Donat’s Castle, Glamorgan. He was educated at Balliol College, Oxford where he read classics and divinity, and entered the Middle Temple before beginning his legal career as Recorder of Bridgwater and of Bristol.[3]


    He served as an MP for Lyme Regis in 1558 and for Bristol in 1571 and 1572 and was a Justice of the Peace in Somerset. He was promoted to serjeant-at-law in 1578 and appointed solicitor-general in 1579. In 1581 he was elected speaker of the House of Commons and later that year appointed attorney-general. In 1592 he was appointed Chief Justice of the Queen’s Bench on the death of Sir Christopher Wray, retaining the position until his death.

    Popham is credited with maintaining the stability of the British State, and for being one of the “real colonisers” of the British Empire; hosting two Wabanaki tribesmen kidnapped on the Maine coast in 1605, subsequently funding and orchestrating the aborted Popham Colony at the mouth of the Kennebec River, Maine (1607–1608).

    Popham became a very wealthy man, and amongst the many estates he owned was Publow in Somerset,[4] Littlecote in Wiltshire, and Hemyock Castle in Devon. In Peter Blundell’s will[5] of 1599 Popham was asked to establish a free grammar school in the town of Tiverton, Devon, which resulted in his founding of Blundell’s School which opened in 1604 and still exists to this day.

    Famous trials

    Popham presided over the trial of the Jesuit, Robert Southwell, in 1595 and passed sentence of death by hanging, drawing and quartering. He also presided over the trials of Sir Walter Raleigh (1603) and the conspirators of the Gunpowder Plot, including Guy Fawkes (1606). He was also involved in the trial at Fotheringay of Mary, Queen of Scots (1587) which resulted in her execution.

    While working as the messenger to the Queen, Popham was imprisoned by the Earl of Essex with his henchman. Ever stoic, Popham replied that at his age, death would be “but cutting off a few years.” However, he was rescued and rowed to safety by Sir Ferdinando Gorges (1565–1647).

    He was noted for his severity towards thieves and strict enforcement of the Penal Laws.

  2. [music]
    To the tune of Love and Marriage-

    Lord and Lassie, Lord and Lassie..
    Go together like a horse and carriage.
    Ya Can’t have any other!
    You cant have one. You cant have one.
    You cant have one without the oooottheeer!
    — end

    One thing is clear. The Brits got rid of slavery before the United States did. Now some of their other colonies had a sordid past.
    I will just say one thing while JT is over there:
    Hail Britannia! Britannia rules the waves!

  3. Don’t sweat posting on the blog. It’s the time of year everyone should be getting out and active. I have a friend who was a Public Defender in KC. Barbara was an ace, handling all the capital murder cases for her office. She met a barrister, married him, and moved to London back in the 80’s. Barbara became a barrister and worked there for a decade or so. In many ways, she preferred the law in the UK over the US.

    I love the title, “Right Honourable Lord Justice.”

  4. You can also tell them about The Bill of Rights which is included in the Constitution and then tell them about the subsequent Amendments particularly the 14th Amendment. All people being equal and all that. The Queen’s photo will be up there on the wall while “Sir” This and Sir James speak.

  5. Well, JT, when you arrive on the scene and have heard all they can brag about you can tell them about something over here in the wild west world called The Constitution. They dont have one as yet. No. They also still have Queeny.

  6. Enjoy Professor, you deserve a wondrous break like this.
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts on all matters legal.

  7. Welcome to London!

    Do you have a speaking schedule whilst in London? Wanted to pick your brain about something.



  8. Lol “public interest” (posh style) law professor. This world is amazing. Have fun though, London is incredible!

  9. Magna Carta is one of a long line of documents iterating man’s responsibility to mankind. The strength represented by its place in this history must reinforce the continuing responsibility to govern ourselves from the past but in the present, for the future. From a glass half full perspective, mankind has done a remarkable job of evolving when you take a peek at where we are now and compare it to where we were a few hundred years ago, or the Middle East.

  10. Chinggis say, if no Magna Carta, then would have been large volcanic eruption, so instead would have Magma Carta.

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