FYI March 28, 2018


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On This Day

1978 – The US Supreme Court hands down 5–3 decision in Stump v. Sparkman, a controversial case involving involuntary sterilization and judicial immunity.

Stump v. Sparkman, 435 U.S. 349 (1978), is the leading United States Supreme Court decision on judicial immunity. It involved an Indiana judge who was sued by a young woman who had been sterilized without her knowledge as a minor in accordance with the judge’s order. The Supreme Court held that the judge was immune from being sued for issuing the order because it was issued as a judicial function. The case has been called one of the most controversial in recent Supreme Court history.[1]

In 1971, Judge Harold D. Stump granted a mother’s petition to have a tubal ligation performed on her 15-year-old daughter, who the mother alleged was “somewhat retarded.” The petition was granted the same day that it was filed. The judge did not hold a hearing to receive evidence or appoint a lawyer to protect the daughter’s interests. The daughter underwent the surgery a week later, having been told that she was to have her appendix removed.

The daughter married two years later. Failing to become pregnant, she learned that she had been sterilized during the 1971 operation. The daughter and her husband sued the judge and others associated with the sterilization in federal district court.

The district court found that the judge was immune from suit. The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the decision, holding that the judge had lost his immunity because he failed to observe “elementary principles of due process” when he ordered the sterilization. Finally, in 1978, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-3 decision, reversed the Court of Appeals, announcing a test for deciding when judicial immunity should apply and holding that the judge could not be sued.



Born On This Day

1819 – Joseph Bazalgette, English architect and engineer, designed the Hammersmith Bridge and Battersea Bridge (d. 1891)
Sir Joseph William Bazalgette, CB (/ˈbæzəldʒɛt/; 28 March 1819 – 15 March 1891) was a 19th-century English civil engineer. As chief engineer of London’s Metropolitan Board of Works his major achievement was the creation (in response to the Great Stink of 1858) of a sewer network for central London which was instrumental in relieving the city from cholera epidemics, while beginning the cleansing of the River Thames.[1]

Early life
Bazalgette was born at Hill Lodge, Clay Hill, Enfield, London, the son of Joseph William Bazalgette (1783–1849), a retired Royal Navy captain, and Theresa Philo, born Pilton (1796–1850), and was the grandson of a French Protestant immigrant.

He began his career working on railway projects, articled to noted engineer Sir John MacNeill and gaining sufficient experience (some in China) in land drainage and reclamation works for him to set up his own London consulting practice in 1842. By the time he married his wife, Maria Kough, in 1845, Bazalgette was deeply involved in the expansion of the railway network, working so hard that he suffered a nervous breakdown two years later.

While he was recovering, London’s Metropolitan Commission of Sewers ordered that all cesspits should be closed and that house drains should connect to sewers and empty into the Thames. As a result, a cholera epidemic (1848–49) killed 14,137 Londoners.

Bazalgette was appointed assistant surveyor to the Commission in 1849, taking over as Engineer in 1852, after his predecessor died of “harassing fatigues and anxieties.” Soon after, another cholera epidemic struck, in 1853, killing 10,738. Medical opinion at the time held that cholera was caused by foul air: a so-called miasma. Physician Dr John Snow had earlier advanced a different explanation, which is now known to be correct: cholera was spread by contaminated water. His view was not then generally accepted.

Championed by fellow engineer Isambard Kingdom Brunel, Bazalgette was appointed chief engineer of the Commission’s successor, the Metropolitan Board of Works, in 1856 (a post which he retained until the MBW was abolished and replaced by the London County Council in 1889). In 1858, the year of the Great Stink, Parliament passed an enabling act, in spite of the colossal expense of the project, and Bazalgette’s proposals to revolutionise London’s sewerage system began to be implemented. The expectation was that enclosed sewers would eliminate the stink (‘miasma’), and that this would then reduce the incidence of cholera.




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Frances Glessner Lee (March 25, 1878 – Jan. 27, 1962) was influential in developing the science of forensics in the United States.[1] To this end, she created the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death, 20 true crime scene dioramas recreated in minute detail at dollhouse scale, used for training homicide investigators. Eighteen of the Nutshell Studies of Unexplained Death are still in use for teaching purposes by the Maryland Office of the Chief Medical Examiner, and the dioramas are also now considered works of art.[2] Lee also helped to establish the Department of Legal Medicine at Harvard, and endowed the Magrath Library of Legal Medicine there.[1] She became the first female police captain in the United States, and is known as the “mother of forensic science”.[3][4]

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