Thursday, June 09, 2011

I have a new hero: James Otis

Where are you, James Otis? explains some of the little known history of the founding of our country:

Arguing before the Superior Court of Massachusetts in 1761, attorney James Otis argued for five hours against the legality of writs of assistance. These writs, which served as general search warrants that did not expire, allowed government officials to search an individual’s person or property at any time, and for any (or no) reason, without having to obtain a specific warrant that described in detail the person, place, or thing to be searched.

Retained by a group of Boston merchants for the case, Otis was well-versed in the abuses of these writs. When speaking before the Court, he related the story of one Mr. Ware, who in retaliation for having been brought before a court on charges of using profanity on the Sabbath, used a writ he had been granted to search through the judge’s home for smuggled goods, as well as the house of the constable who had brought him to the court. Similar abuses of the power to search and seize were quickly becoming commonplace.

Read the whole article.

Hat tip: Boycott Flying


Happy Elf Mom said...

I think he went a little nutty by the time the Revolution happened and so we don't remember him. Could be wrong though.

Henry Cate said...

That would be too bad.

I still grateful for what he did in 1761.