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20. R V Casement July 19, 28, 1916

Sir Roger Casement, it is sometimes said, was hanged by a comma. This was a rip-roaring case about war, treason, syntax, punctuation, an ancient document and the noose. Casement was convicted during the First World War of conspiring with the Germans to further an Irish insurrection. The contentious punctuation mark appeared in some but not all versions of the law under which Casement was prosecuted, the Treason Act 1351. Ultimately, the comma allowed the definition of a traitor to include someone whose treachery, such as Casement’s, was committed outside the realm. In this case, Casement had made his plans in Germany. Before the final decision, two judges went to the Public Record Office to check with a magnifying glass what was on the original Statute Roll and Parliamentary Roll. Casement’s appeal was rejected and on August 3, 1916, he was hanged at Pentonville prison.


1. Answer the questions.

  1. In which case was the accused first sentences to death but then to imprisonment?

  2. In which trial did the person charged make witty jokes?

  3. Which offence was committed in revenge?

  4. Which case mentions the rules that have changed greatly since the time of the trial?

  5. In which legal action was the accused sentenced to death and the sentence was actually fulfilled?

  6. In which case(s) were the matters of the language concerned?

  7. Which lawsuit(s) became a precedent for many other cases?

  8. Which trial(s) showed that a person was not responsible for the debts of the company which they managed?

  9. In which trial(s) did the accused confess to the crime unintentionally?

  10. Which lawsuit demonstrates the unlawful actions now commonly used in advertising?

  11. In which case was the defendant acquitted because they did not mean to commit a crime?

2. Which case(s) involved:

  1. garments

  2. noise

  3. lawyers’ rights

  4. starvation

  5. disease

  6. humour and jokes

  7. unusually fragile materials

  8. family relationships

  9. neighbours

  10. animals

  11. verbal contact

  12. witnesses’ rights

  13. shareholders’ rights

  14. property matters

  15. nuisance

3. Write the words defined below.

  1. a false spoken statement intended to damage the good opinion people have of sb; the legal offence of making this kind of statement

  2. the crime of copying money, documents, etc. in order to cheat people

  3. the act of doing deliberate damage to equipment, transport, machines, etc. to prevent an enemy from using them, or to protest about sth

  4. an act that is not legal, honest or morally acceptable

  5. behaviour by sb that annoys other people and that a court can order the person to stop

  6. a secret plan by a group of people to do sth harmful or illegal

  7. the crime of doing sth that could cause danger to your country, such as helping its enemies during a war

  8. questioning sb carefully and in a lot of detail about answers that they have already given, especially in court

  9. to enter a building illegally, usually using force, and steal from it

  10. the crime of killing sb deliberately

4. Match the words to their definitions.

        1. Advocate

        2. Barrister

        3. Defendant

        4. Lawyer

        5. Solicitor

          1. a lawyer in Britain who has the right to argue cases in the higher courts of law

          2. a lawyer who gives legal advice and prepares documents, for example when you are buying a house, and sometimes has the right to speak in a court of law

          3. a person who defends sb in court

          4. a person who is trained and qualified to advise people about the law and to represent them in court, and to write legal documents

          5. the person in a trial who is accused of committing a crime, or who is being sued by another person

5. Match the words to their definitions.

  1. Assets

  2. Debenture

  3. Defence

  4. Injunction

  5. Insurrection

  6. Malice

  7. Minor

  8. Proceedings

  9. Revenge

  10. Tort

    1. a feeling of hatred for sb that causes a desire to harm them

    2. a person who is under the age at which you legally become an adult and are responsible for your actions

    3. a situation in which a large group of people try to take political control of their own country with violence

    4. a thing of value, especially property, that a person or company owns, which can be used or sold to pay debts

    5. an official document that is given by a company, showing it has borrowed money from a person and stating the interest payments that it will make to them

    6. an official order given by a court which demands that sth must or must not be done

    7. something that you do in order to make sb suffer because they have made you suffer

    8. something wrong that sb does to sb else that is not criminal, but that can lead to action in a civil court

    9. the process of using a court to settle a disagreement or to deal with a complaint

    10. what is said in court to prove that a person did not commit a crime; the act of presenting this argument in court

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