Friday, September 4, 2015

Judging History

For the record, we now have at least three, and possibly four, in the Sommer family who have been identified as judges:

  • Jacob Sommer of Philadelphia, 1758-1827
  • John Summers of New Jersey, 1759-1827
  • Jacob Summers of Michigan, 1787-1864

To be clear, it is nearly certain that none of these men had any formal education, and most certainly they were not trained lawyers, though maybe they should have been since all three were involved in legal cases. But lay judges were common in England, and for that matter, also in Germany, and thus the practice followed to colonial America and then west with the pioneers. In fact, 30 states today still retain a lay-judge system, including Colorado. Here is a snippet from a 2011 Denver Post article about lay judges:
Clifford Mays, who will retire from the Cheyenne County bench in November, is also a rancher. None of the three people nominated to fill his vacancy is a lawyer: One is a school superintendent, one works for a local historical society, and one is a wheat farmer.
I vote for the one who works for the historical society :-)

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