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A Thorny Case of Torts and the O.J. Simpson Trial

The history of civil tort law begins with Orange v. Hull. Orange was trimming his thorn hedge along the property line when a few branches fell onto his neighbor's property. Orange stepped onto Hull's property to retrieve the branches and toss them back. It is agreed that Orange was trespassing but his trespass was considered legal in 1400s. Yet, while on Hull's property, Orange caused minor and apparently unavoidable damage to Hull's crops. Hull sued and the court ruled in Orange's favor because Orange was committing a legal act with no intent to damage. Yet some damage occurred. Upon appeal Hull won. Thus begins the modern legal process of suing for civil damages without proving battery (that is unlawful physical contact) or negligence. [1] [2] [3] [4]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
One could escape liability amazingly easily with a clever attorney picking at technical issues. With civil liability, a plaintiff could get satisfaction with a lesser standard of proof. This is what happened with the case the O. J. Simpson murder trial. The jury found Simpson "not guilty" in the murder of his wife, Nicole, and her friend, Ronald Goldman. The jury judged that the state failed to meet the strict burden of proof for murder but Goldman's family won their civil case against Simpson for the wrongful death of Ronald. The award was not fully paid by Simpson so Simpson's unpublished book entitled "If I Did It" was released for sale by the Goldman family.[5] [6]

FYI: My cousin is an attorney and she tells me that in modern law, Orange was trespassing and required permission from Hull to enter the property.

Hooked on Mnemonics: Columbus Sails the Deep Blue Sea

The early life of Christopher Columbus is not well established. His father was a wool carder. That is... he processed wool by brushing out the fibers. This was called "carding" and it was tedious work that is performed by machine nowadays. Years later, Christopher Columbus will claim that he didn't want to become a carder so he went to sea at the age of 10. Whether true or not, he must have crewed somewhere to gain experience. He will wander the known seas for years, eventually making his way through the Mediterranean to Iceland and back to Lisbon. In his travels he will be inspired by the Travels of Marco Polo and a wholly inaccurate but scientifically derived map that showed the world as round and much smaller that it actually is. The scientist/mapmaker based his map on inaccurate data and incorrect assumptions. Because of his errors, when Columbus lands in Hispaniola in 1492, he will think it is India, and call the people he finds there, Indians. [7] [8]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
There is a familiar rhyme used as mnemonic device in grade school to remember when Columbus discovered America... "In fourteen-hundred and ninety-two, Columbus sailed the ocean blue." Unfortunately, another rhyme has become the bane of school children, "In fourteen-hundred and ninety-three, Columbus sailed the deep blue sea." [9]

Donatello and the Cradle of the Renaissance

Donatello is not a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle. He is a famous sculptor who produced his statue of David (a life-sized version) and several other magnificent statues. He has died this year in Florence in modern day Italy. He was 80 years old and his last works remain unfinished which only emphasize their intensity and evoke passion. He is buried next to Cosimo the Elder, the man who supported the arts and pushed the Renaissance forward by financing its foundations in Florence. Florence is known as the cradle of the Renaissance and it is due in part to such artists as Donatello. [10] [11]

My Take by Alex Shrugged
Florence will also be the cradle of fascism. Donatello had lived a number of years in Siena, which was within the Florence sphere of influence. In 1477 it will vote for a dictatorship when the political infighting and violence will become intolerable and the people will see the need for a strong hand to bring order to the chaos. It won't be the last time the Italians will vote for fascism.[12]

This Year in Wikipedia

Year 1466, Wikipedia.

See Also


  1. (1997) Imagining the Law: Common Law and the Foundations of the American Legal System (BOOK), New York: Harper Collins Publisher, 224-226. ISBN 0060171944. “"The landmark Thorns Case of 1466 set the pattern of strict liability. Even though the defendant in that case had no intention of invading the plaintiffs property in a hurtful or even insulting manner, when the former stepped over the boundary line to pick up thorns cut from a hedge dividing the properties, he had formally been negligent and had to pay at least token damages."” 
  2. Case of the Thorns - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
  3. Hulle v. Orynge (The Case of Thorns). Casebriefs (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014. “"Brief Fact Summary. When trying to retrieve thorns that dropped onto Plaintiff's property, Defendant damaged crops and although Defendant had justification to enter Plaintiff's property, he was found liable for trespass."”
  4. The Thorns Case (Hull v. Orynge) Case Brief. Quimbee.com (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014. “"Hull (plaintiff) owned a plot of land that was adjacent to land owned by Orange (defendant). Orange's land contained a thorn hedge. Orange cut the thorns, and some of them inadvertently fell onto Hull's land. Orange entered Hull's land for the purpose of removing the thorns. Hull sued Orange for trespass based on the trampling of grass from Orange's entrance on his property. The trial court held for Orange. Hull appealed."”
  5. People of the State of California vs. Orenthal James Simpson - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
  6. O. J. Simpson: Wrongful Death Civil Trial - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
  7. (1982) "COLUMBUS, Christopher", Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 70-72. ISBN 0385177712. “"About 1465, rather than work as a wool comber like his father, he ran away to sea. While still young he sailed through the Mediterranean and is supposed to have made a trip to Iceland."” 
  8. (1982) "Toscanelli, Paolo", Asimov's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science and Technology. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0385177712. “"His lone claim to fame, however, and his chief service to science, consisted of a mistake firmly held. He believed that Asia lay three thousand miles west of Europe and drew up a map [...] He showed this to Columbus and that was all Columbus needed."” 
  9. Mnemonics. The Free Dictionary (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014. “A system to develop or improve the memory.”
  10. Donatello - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
  11. Donatello (Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) - Wikipedia (2014). Retrieved on 16 November 2014.
  12. (1953) A History of Civilization in Italy from 1304-1576 A.D., The Story Of Civilization. New York: Simon and Schuster, 83-85. ISBN 9781567310160. “"[Cosimo de' Medici's] loans to influential families won or forced their support; his gifts to the clergy enlisted their enthusiastic aid; and his public benefactions, of unprecedented scope and generosity, easily reconciled the citizens to his rule. [...] If the populace had to choose between the Albizzi, who favored the rich, and the Medici, who favored the middle classes and the poor, it could not long hesitate. A people oppressed by its economic masters, and weary of faction, welcomed dictatorship in Florence in 1434, in Perugia in 1389, in Bologna in 1401, in Siena in 1477, in Rome in 1347 and 1922."” 

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