Wednesday, May 3, 2017

The judgment roll in the famous case Pierson v. Post was discovered in 2007 at the Division of Old Records in the New York County Clerk’s Office, New York City, by Professor Angela Fernandez, University of Toronto Faculty of Law and Department of History.

Pierson v. Post has been made famous by its use in American property law classrooms since the 1950s. It is often the first case law students study in property as it provides an introduction to the concept of first possession and how one acquires possession in a wild animal, the fox, owned by no one. Until the discovery of the judgement roll, only the case report created by New York’s first official law reporter George Caines was known.

The discovery was made public and commented on in a special issue of Law and History Review in 2009, at which time an electronic version of images of the original handwritten document and a transcript of the handwritten document was made available.

Since that time, the original record at the archives has disappeared and the electronic version prepared for the special journal issue has not survived. As a consequence, with the assistance of Alexia Loumankis of the Bora Laskin Law Library, Professor Fernandez has prepared an electronic version of the handwritten document, plus a transcript, which is featured in a University of Toronto Libraries exhibit. A permanent repository has also been created for the document and its transcript.

A transcript of the judgment roll will also appear in Professor Fernandez’s book Pierson v. Post, the Hunt for the Fox: Law and Professionalization in American Legal Culture (Cambridge University Press, forthcoming 2017).

Last page of Pierson vs. Post judgement roll
Last page of Pierson vs. Post judgment roll