This page contains archived entries from the "This Month in Legal History" column published in 2006 in the Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library E-Mail Newsletter and on the Home page of this website. Each month, the column features a different event from the history of law and jurisprudence of Douglas County, Kansas, that occurred during the month.
October 3, 1854 - President Franklin Pierce names Samuel Dexter Lecompte to be the first chief justice of the Kansas Territorial Supreme Court - The town of Lecompton was named for this staunch proslavery Democrat whose tenure on the bench largely coincided with the “Bleeding Kansas” period. Detractors considered Lecompte a “drunken wretch” who “prostituted the judicial ermine to do the dirtiest work of the slave power.” Others have seen Lecompte as a jurist who simply tried to interpret the laws as they were written by the duly constituted territorial legislature that enjoyed federal sanction. (Excerpted from: Kansas History Online. Published 10/06. ) Back to top of page
November 3, 1970 - Yippie wins election for Justice of the Peace in Douglas County - In the November election, Phil Hill, local Youth International Party (Yippie) and Lawrence Liberation Front (LLF) member, won the election for Justice of the Peace in Douglas County. Hill, a self-proclaimed "Weirdo," ran unopposed in the election and received nearly 6,500 votes. The surprise win gained national media attention. After the election, local officials requested lame duck Kansas Attorney General Kent Frizzell for an opinion on the matter. Before Hill could be sworn in, Attorney General Frizzell issued an opinion that that the office of Justice of the Peace had been abolished by the Kansas Legislature in 1968. There were numerous objections to this finding from Hill's supporters, citing that a prior ruling had found it would take a constitutional amendment to abolish the office, but the opinion stood and Hill was not allowed to take office. (From: 1970s candidate promised same-sex marriages, by Lindsay Hanson and Deron Lee, March 7, 2004. Published 11/06.) Back to top of page
December 14, 1829 - Louis Carpenter, future Douglas County Probate Judge, is born. - Louis Carpenter was born December 14, 1829, probably in New York State. He came to Kansas sometime in the 1850's and by early 1859 was serving as Deputy Clerk of the United States District Court of Kansas Territory, 2nd Judicial District for Douglas County. He was listed as an attorney in the Lawrence, Kansas, city directory of 1860. Carpenter served as probate judge in Douglas County from early 1861 to early 1863, during which time he ran unsuccessfully for Kansas Attorney General in the 1862 election. After he left the probate judgeship, he served as Reporter for the Kansas Supreme Court, and was compiling what was intended to become the first volume of the Report of the Kansas Supreme Court. Judge Carpenter and Mary, his wife of less than a year, were at home in their newly finished house in Lawrence on August 21, 1863, when he was attacked and murdered by several members of Quantrill's Raiders. His body was eventually interred in Oak Hill Cemetery in Lawrence. (See the Judge Louis Carpenter page on the Law Library's website for a more detailed biography. Published 12/06.) Back to top of page
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Comments to: Webmaster: Kerry Altenbernd, Law Librarian, Michael J. Malone Douglas County Law Library, Judicial and Law Enforcement Center, 111 East 11th Street, Lawrence, KS 66044.
Created: April 5, 2007; Revised: September 2, 2014