Here is How a Court Dealt with a Statute that Included 307 Words and a Mere One Period!

Posted By on February 25, 2014

The court ended up citing to the Spartans Battle at the Thermopylae! From your history class you may recall that the Spartan army went into battle totally silent, which really freaked out their opponents.  In State v. Willan, 136 Ohio St.3d 222 (2013)   Chief Justice Pfeifer’s dissent reads: “If a statute consists of “24 lines of unrelenting abstruseness consisting, remarkably, of the sum total of 307 words and a mere one period, a punctuation mark set out as a lone sentinel facing odds similar to that of the Spartans at the Battle of Thermopylae, a battle that occurred over the course of three days during the second Persian invasion of Greece, and is estimated by historians to have occurred in either August or September, or perhaps both, in 480 B.C., pitting an alliance of Greek city-states, led by King Leonidas of Sparta, against the Persian Empire of Xerxes I, bravely standing before the onslaught of invaders but ultimately unable to stanch the unrelenting tide of the overpowering hordes of words and statutory numbers”.

Justice Lanzinger also dissented.The majority opinion discusses canons of construction but omits one important principle to be used in construing criminal statutes: the rule of lenity. We have emphasized that “ ‘where there is ambiguity in a criminal statute, doubts are resolved in favor of the defendant”

It is pretty cool that you get a lesson in history while reading a case! Thanks Eugene Volokh, Now there are some sentences for you  at www.volokh.com   June 12, 2013 11:31 pm for alerting  us about this case.  Our history teacher always told us that his class would end up being useful one day, and he proved to be right.

Mark Kloempken and Tove Klovning

About The Author

Tove Klovning oversees foreign, comparative, and international law services at the law library and teaches Legal Research Methodologies I & II. She often guest lecturers on legal research methodology strategies in seminar classes and assists researchers with legal research questions relating to foreign law, comparative law, and international law, as well as questions related to the American legal system. She has written several research guides on American, international, and foreign legal issues.

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