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September 2014

June 2014

A Random Aside: Dueling is Ilegal

The Massachusetts General Laws are fun.  Three statutes added to the code in 1836, and still good law, help you understand that dueling is illegal:

M.G.L.A. 265 section 3

An inhabitant or resident of this commonwealth who, by previous appointment or engagement made within the same, fights a duel outside its jurisdiction, and in so doing inflicts a mortal wound upon a person whereof he dies within the commonwealth shall be guilty of murder within this commonwealth, and may be indicted, tried and convicted in the county where the death occurs.

M.G.L.A. 265 section 4

An inhabitant or resident of this commonwealth who, by previous appointment or engagement made within the same, becomes the second of either party in such duel and is present as a second when a mortal wound is inflicted upon a person whereof he dies within this commonwealth shall be an accessory before the fact to murder in this commonwealth, and may be indicted, tried and convicted in the county where the death occurs.

M.G.L.A. 265 section 5

A person indicted under either of the two preceding sections may plead a former conviction or acquittal of the same crime in any other state or country; and if his plea is admitted or established, it shall be a bar to all further proceedings against him for the same crime within this commonwealth.

The more you know...

Tanya Marsh


A Book Bound in Human Skin

Harvard University reports that it has a book published in the 1880s which is bound in human skin.  Strange?  Absolutely.  Illegal?  Possibly. 

Massachusetts General Law 272 section 72 states that:

Whoever buys or sells, or has in his possession for the purpose of buying, selling or trafficking in, the dead body of a human being shall be punished by a fine of not less than fifty nor more than one thousand dollars or by imprisonment for not less than three months nor more than two and one half years.

Is the skin of a person who has been deceased for 140 years a "dead body of a human being?"  The statute has been a part of Massachusetts law since 1855, but there are no reported appellate cases which interpret it.

Tanya Marsh