With apologies to the annual bathroom reader, the Guinness Book of World Records, the time has come to issue forth the appropriate, official and truly sanctioned by law, Law & Justice World Records.
Shortest Judgment Ever
Tucked inside the second volume of Vern., at page 638, and also at 23 English Reports 1018, is the world's shortest judgment all time - nine words! Dated 1708, the case does not offer the judge's name but we do know it was the High Court of Chancery because that's all Thomas Vernon, Esquire, covered in his law report. But the case does answer, succinctly, that conundrum which has bedazzled lawyers since Hammurabi: in a devise of household goods, are the dishes included?
This is Lillicott v Compton, verbatim:
"Plate shall pass by a devise of household goods."
John Edward Payton was born in Fresno, California in January 23, 1972. He moved to Plano, Texas in 1989 and graduated from Plano East Senior High School in 1990.
Armed with barely a high school diploma, he was 18 years old and 11 months when he was Elected Justice of the Peace for Plano, Texas.
He started the job in January of 1991 and as of March 2011, still holds the position.
Longest Career as an Executioner
William Calcraft (1800-1879) was first tasked with hangman duties at England's infamous Newgate prison in 1829. He replaced John Foxton who had reigned as the grim reaper for 40 years but Calcraft served until 1874, an incredible 45 years, during which time he hung the noose on the necks of 450 men and women.
According to his contract of employment, he was allowed to keep the clothing and personal items of the condemned, most of which he sold to Madame Tussaud for her waxwork museums.
Longest Active Membership in Bar & Oldest Lawyer
Reuben "Ruby" Landau was still practising law when he passed away at the Hebrew Rehabilitation Center for the Aged in Roslindale, Mass., at the age of 103. He was senior partner of the Cambridge, Massachusetts law firm of Landua and Landau, though working from a home office for only a few hours a day.
Reuben Landau graduated from law school in 1926 and was called to the Massachusetts bar; a tenure as a lawyer of 86 years. This, in spite of suffering a heart attack at the age of 59.
Catching up to Reuben Landau as the world's oldest practising lawyer is India lawyer Shivram Abhyankar who turned 100 in 2010 and still attended court until a fall in 2009. Abhyankar was born in 1910 and began to practise law in 1935.
Fastest Jury Decision
On July 22, 2004, a New Zealand jury deliberated after a marijuana cultivation trial. The jury took a minute to decide that Nicholas Clive McAllister was not guilty.
McAllister ran from police when initially approached about marijuana plants in his home (he had been lending it to friends). McAllister explained that the plants were not his.
According to the New Zealand Herald:
"Greymouth lawyer Richard Bodle is claiming a record for his successful jury trial defence of a man accused of cannabis cultivation yesterday. The jury retired to consider their verdicts at 3.28pm and were back in court with a not guilty verdict by 3.29. The one-minute time lapse would not have even given the panel time to sit at the deliberation table...."
In 2008, McAllister died in a canoe accident on the Grey River, New Zealand. He was 32 years old.
Longest Solitary Confinement
Mordechai Vanunu, former nuclear technician, was in solitary confinement for 11 years for treason, convicted of selling state secrets to the London Times. he apparently gave photos of Israel´s bomb factory at Dimona to the Sunday Times
In 1986, the government of Israel kidnapped him in Rome and secreted him back for trial. His in camera, 1988 espionage trial was headline news in Israel and aroused considerable interest around the world.
His total 18 year sentence, served in Israel, was from 1986 to 2004; the first 12 of which were in solitary confinement (1986-1997) in a 6 square meters jail cell. In about 2000, he was granted permission to spend outdoor recesses with other inmates
Oldest Bank Robber
According to the Associated Press, J. L. Hunter Roundtree started a life of crime in his 80s. At one point, in his pre-crime life, he owned the Houston-based Rountree Machinery Company:
"A year after his first wife died, Rountree, at the age of 76, married a 31-year-old woman and then spent almost half a million dollars putting her through a drug rehabilitation program (the sum he spent on Viagra was never reported). The bank didn't care about substance-abuse problems; it just wanted its money. At this point, Rountree decided he didn't like banks very much. In 1998, at the age of 86, the short, scrawny redhead held up a South Trust Bank in Biloxi, MS. A year later he knocked over a Nations Bank in Pensacola, FL. This time he wasn't that lucky; he was apprehended and sentenced, leniently, to three years in a state prison. In 2002 he was released on probation. (In 2003), Rountree pulled his last job. The 91-year-old robbed a First American Bank in Abilene, TX, in total daylight and walked out with ($1,999)."
The old bastard wasn't the sharpest tool in the shed: he used his real car as a getaway vehicle and driving slowly, several bank employees were able to get his license plate number and he was pulled over. Roundtree was given an additional 12 year prison sentence and it was in prison that he died in November of 2004.
- BBC News, October 10, 2003, Robber, 91, admits third bank job
- Marquard, Bryan, Boston Globe, October 23, 2007, "Reuben Landau, 103; called state's oldest practicing lawyer"
- New Zealand Herald, Auckland, New Zealand, July 23, 2004, Verdict takes just 60 seconds
- New York Press, December 7, 2004, J.L. Hunter Roundtree, 92 "You want to know why I ..."
- Times of India, July 9, 2010, Lawyer Abhayankar turns 100 today
- Vanunu Mordechai website at http://www.vanunu.com/
- We'd like to acknowledge the assistance of Ms Kindra Duhaime of Victoria, British Columbia in researching some of the above items.