Professor Emily Kadens Awarded Sutherland Prize, Recognizing Best Article in English Legal History

Professor Emily Kadens, Baker and Botts Professor in Law, has been awarded the American Society for Legal History’s Sutherland Prize, which recognizes the person or persons who wrote the best article on English legal history published in the previous year.  The Prize was awarded to Kadens for her article, “The Puzzle of Judicial Education: The Case of Chief Justice William de Grey,” 75 Brooklyn Law Review 143 (2009). 

In her article, Kadens presents a cogent analysis of how an excellent but little-known judge, William de Grey, equipped himself to perform his office.  De Grey was appointed Chief Justice of the Court of Common Pleas in January 1771, a position he held for ten years.  Having had little experience in Common Pleas during his years in practice, de Grey promptly began to buy reference books.  Using de Grey’s accounts, held by the Norfolk Record Office, Kadens reconstructs de Grey’s book purchases and shows how he used his expanding library to shape the first stage of his judicial education.  She then explains in careful detail how de Grey created a two-volume encyclopedic bench book by interleaving pages of his own notes with the pages of the 1772 edition of Francis Buller’s Introduction to the Law Relative to Trials at Nisi Prius.  The Norfolk archives have only one volume of de Grey’s bench book, but Kadens constructs a persuasive description of the full two-volume compilation and of de Grey’s extensive annotations.  The marginalia, she states, “show that de Grey sought to have at his fingertips the various types of information that would help him decide questions of law, give explanations to juries, and engage with counsel.” 

 According to the Sutherland Prize Committee, “Kadens’ article is based upon meticulous documentary research and is a splendid example of the enhanced historical understanding that can be gained through the patient archival work of the legal historian.”

 The Sutherland Prize, named in honor of the late Donald W. Sutherland, a distinguished historian of the law of medieval England and a mentor of many students, is awarded annually on the recommendation of the Sutherland Prize Committee. The Committee for the 2009 prize consisted of Professor James Oldham of Georgetown Law Center (chair); Professor John Beattie of the University of Toronto; and Professor Jonathan Rose of Arizona State University College of Law.

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