Summary: From the Salem witchcraft trials of the 1690s to the Rodney King and O. J. Simpson trials of the 1990s, highly publicized court cases have both disclosed and shaped changes in American society. In this volume, Michael Grossberg examines the d'Hauteville child custody battle of 1840 to explore some timebound and timeless features of American legal culture. He recounts how marital woes led Ellen and Gonzalve d'Hauteville into what Alexis de Tocqueville called the " ...show more;shadow of the law. " Their bitter custody fight over their two-year-old son forced the pair to confront contradictions between their own ideas about justice and the realities of the law, as well as to endure the transformation of their domestic unhappiness into a public legal event with lawyers, judges, newspaper reporters, and a popular following. The d'Hautevilles' multiple legal experiences culminated in an eagerly followed Philadelphia trial that sparked a national debate over the legal rights and duties of parents and spouses. The story of the d'Hauteville case explains why popular trials become "precedents of legal experience" - mediums for debates about highly contested social issues. It also demonstrates the ability of individual women and men to contribute to legal change by turning to the law to fight for what they want. This account of the d'Hauteville case, a controversial l840 child custody battle, uses the story of one couple's bitter fight to explore features of American legal culture. It explains why popular trials become precedents of legal experience--mediums for debates about contested social issues. ...show lessEdition/Copyright: 96
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