Lemuel Shaw

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Shaw, Lemuel,

1781–1861, American jurist, b. Barnstable, Mass. After a career in the Massachusetts state legislature, Shaw served as chief justice for the supreme judicial court of Massachusetts (1830–60). In Commonwealth v. Hunt (1842), Shaw provided an important precedent in labor relations by arguing that members of labor unions were not engaging in criminal conspiracies against their employers. In Roberts v. City of Boston (1849), a forerunner of Plessy v. FergusonPlessy v. Ferguson,
case decided by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1896. The court upheld an 1890 Louisiana statute mandating racially segregated but equal railroad carriages, ruling that the equal protection clause of the 14th amendment to the U.S.
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 (1896), he ruled that the segregation of black schoolchildren was not a violation of the Massachusetts state constitution. His decision in Commonwealth v. Alger (1851) was an early and influential attempt to define the limits of state police powerpolice power,
in law, right of a government to make laws necessary for the health, morals, and welfare of the populace. The term has greatest currency in the United States, where it has been defined by the Supreme Court as the power of the states to enact laws of that type even
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. In Brown v. Kendall (1850), Shaw established negligence as the dominant standard of tort law, and ruled that injured plaintiffs have the burden of proving that the defendant was negligent.

Shaw, Lemuel

(1781–1861) judge; born in Barnstable, Mass. The son of a Congregational minister, he was educated at home and worked as a journalist while he read law. Admitted to the bar in 1804, he established a lucrative practice in Boston. As chief justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Court from 1830 to 1860, his rulings on railroad, utility, and other commercial cases had a major impact on the development of the nation's commercial and constitutional law. In 1850 he presided over the sensational trial of Harvard professor John W. Webster, convicted of murdering Dr. George Parkman. His daughter married the novelist Herman Melville.
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