If it’s true, I can still say it, right?

Libel typed onto a typewriter page

Criminal law in Arizona used to include a prohibition against libel, punished with jail time or a fine. This may be surprising, since Arizona’s Constitution recognizes freedom of speech. Article 2, Section 6 states:

Freedom of speech and press
Every person may freely speak, write, and publish on all subjects, being responsible for the abuse of that right.

 

Howell Code

 

The criminal libel provision began long before Statehood. The Howell Code, adopted by the First Territorial Legislature in 1864, made libel a crime. Unless the jury decided the statement true. Under the Division of “Offenses against the Public Peace and Tranquility” it stated:

Libel

Criminal libel was still the law when the Penal Code was published in 1901. It was found at Chapter X on Libel, Sections 220-229. Section 221 stated:

Every person who willfully and with malicious intent to injure another, publishes or procures to be published, any libel, is punishable by fine not exceeding five thousand dollars or imprisonment in the territorial prison not exceeding one year.

The law continued to appear after Statehood in 1912. Similar provisions to those in the 1901 Penal Code were included in the 1913 Penal Code at Sections 221-230, in the 1928 Revised Statutes of Arizona at Sections 4617-4622, the 1939 Arizona Code at Sections 43-3501 through 43-3506, the 1952 Supplement to the 1939 Arizona Code, and the first compilation of the Arizona Revised Statutes in 1956 at A.R.S. 13-351 through 13-359.

Criminal libel was part of the criminal code until it was repealed in the reorganization of the Criminal Code in 1977.

Repeal

In the meantime, a civil action for libel and slander had been created. Laws 1953, Chapter 96, Section 1 created a cause of action in tort for “libel, slander, invasion of privacy, or any other tort founded upon publication”.  libel2Libel3

A similar provision is still on the books, at Arizona Revised Statutes Section 12-651, which recognizes a single cause of action for damages for “libel, slander, invasion of privacy or any other tort founded upon a single publication, exhibition or utterance…”

yell

 

So let’s be careful of what we say. We won’t wind up in jail, but we could end up in court.

 

 

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Searching Legislative History

One of the most common requests we get at the State of Arizona Research Library is how to research the legislative history of a particular law. How did it come into existence? Who originally came up with the idea for the law? How long did it take to pass? When did it pass? And has it changed since that time?

Our amazing law librarian has come up with this helpful “cheat sheet” of information on how to perform a legislative history. Use it, print it, share it all you like. If you still find yourself stuck or can’t find it online, contact us! We have a lot more material in our physical collection that may be helpful as well.

journal of the house

How To Start

Find the statute in the print Arizona Revised Statute (A.R.S.) annotated or an annotated online source. Look for “added by” for the 1st time it was enacted. If it says “amended by,” there’s an earlier enactment. Look for it in the superseded A.R.S.

Determine the Year

Is it Before 1997? 

  1. Find the Session Laws. Session Laws are the enacted version of the legislation. Jot down the bill number, found after the chapter number.
  2. Check the bill file. The State of Arizona Research Library has these bill files on microfilm:
  • Senate bills between 1969 and 1990.
  • House bills between 1971 and 1994.
  • After those dates but before 1997, call the Clerk of the House of Representatives at 602-926-3032 or the Senate Resource Center at 602-926-3559.

Before the late 1960’s, the bill file probably doesn’t exist, as most were destroyed in a flood. Your issue may be in the History of the Arizona State Legislature 1912-1967 which included an analysis of major issues, debate, & news coverage by session. It is now on microfiche in the Reading Room but soon it will be digitized! Thank you, Library Services and Technology Act!

  1. Use the bill number to check Journals from the Arizona House and Senate. Start by finding the bill number in the index at the end of the volume. Then check each cited page for legislative process and committees that heard the bill. Journals may have text of amendments, floor speeches, & conference committee info. There will be different information in the Journal of each chamber, so be sure to check both!

 

Is it 1989 – 1997?

  1. Go to the Arizona Legislature website. Enter the bill number into the search box at top right. You won’t find everything you need, but it’s a convenient source to get started.
  2. Next, refer to before-1997 steps above.

 

Is it 1997 or more current?

  1. Find the Session Law from the Arizona Legislature website. Set the Year and Session using the yellow drop-down menu at the top. Scroll down to Chapter number. Jot down the bill number.
  2. Use the bill tracker from the Arizona Legislature website. Set the correct Year and Session. Enter the 4-digit bill number in search box at the top right. The titles in the blue bar close to the top are links to more information.
  3. For committee minutes, jot down committees & dates. Go to Agendas on the left-hand side of the page. Choose Senate or House & select the Committee. Click on the meeting date. Click the blue Committee Minutes link.
  4. To search topics, try “search” on the left-hand side and use keywords.
  5. Check for interim, special, or study committee reports. Look for some more Legislative Study Committee Reports in our State Documents Collection on the Arizona Memory Project (link does not reflect a complete search of Legislative Committees).

 

Still can’t find what you’re looking for?

microfilm2Journals may have info on interim, special, & study committees. Check current year and a year or two before. Search our State Documents Collection for Committee reports.

The State of Arizona Archives has some minutes filed by House committees between 1965 and 2016. Jot down the name of committees & meeting dates, then call them at 602-926-3720 or fill out a research request form.

We have numerous newspapers on microfilm, including the Capitol Times & its predecessors. Important and controversial issues of the day often appeared in the news.

To view print material, you can visit us in the Reading Room of the Polly Rosenbaum History and Archives Building located at 1901 W. Madison in Phoenix. We are open Monday through Friday, except on state holidays.

polly-building-at-sunset-crp2

Arizona Legislature Lingo and Abbreviations

3rd Read? Do pass? COW?

What’s really going on at the Legislature?

25th Territorial Legislature Council

The Arizona Legislature has its own lingo and abbreviations. Here is a flow chart we find helpful to track legislation and understand what’s going on during the legislative session and with the introduced bills.

Remember, we have a treasure trove of materials on legislation – including Session Laws from before Statehood, Journals of legislative action for both the House and Senate, introduced bills, and many years of bill files. Contact us for research help!

Arizona State Legislature in session

Legislative process and abbreviations

Box 1

Box 2

Box 3

Box 4

Box 5

Box 6

Box 7

Box 8

Box 9

Makes sense, right!? This flow chart is a little more advanced than the Schoolhouse Rock “I’m Just a Bill” clip we learned legislative process from as kids!

Here are a few more pictures of our State legislators and staff in action through the years, completing the process outlined above!

Leg2
Secretaries or attaches for the Arizona State Legislature
Leg4
Arizona State Legislature in session
leg5
Members of the 1912, First State Legislature
leg6
Legislature in session in the Arizona State Capitol

 

You’re Under Citizen’s Arrest!

Wait, is citizen’s arrest really a thing??

Well, yes. But be careful with that…

Arizona Revised Statutes (A.R.S.) §13-3884 states:

13-3884. Arrest by private person

A private person may make an arrest:

  1. When the person to be arrested has in his presence committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace, or a felony.
  2. When a felony has been in fact committed and he has reasonable ground to believe that the person to be arrested has committed it.

So it has to be a misdemeanor that breached the peace or a felony and you know who did it.

I.W.W. Deportations 1917 “Striker Resisting Arrest”

A.R.S. §3889 requires you to announce the arrest…unless you don’t have to:

13-3889. Method of arrest by private person

A private person when making an arrest shall inform the person to be arrested of the intention to arrest him and the cause of the arrest, unless he is then engaged in the commission of an offense, or is pursued immediately after its commission or after an escape, or flees or forcibly resists before the person making the arrest has opportunity so to inform him, or when the giving of such information will imperil the arrest.

Photograph of the fingerprints of Ernesto Miranda from his booking sheet, Phoenix Police, Phoenix (Ariz.)

Clear enough?
No. Not at all.

There’s more:

13-3900. Duty of private person after making arrest

A private person who has made an arrest shall without unnecessary delay take the person arrested before the nearest or most accessible magistrate in the county in which the arrest was made, or deliver him to a peace officer, who shall without unnecessary delay take him before such magistrate. The private person or officer so taking the person arrested before the magistrate shall make before the magistrate a complaint, which shall set forth the facts showing the offense for which the person was arrested. If, however, the officer cannot make the complaint, the private person who delivered the person arrested to the officer shall accompany the officer before the magistrate and shall make to the magistrate the complaint against the person arrested.

Photograph of a group of prisoners in striped uniforms at the Arizona State Prison in Florence (Ariz.)

So, next you need to take the person you arrested to an officer and explain what happened. Then, you need to explain it to the judge. Apparently you shouldn’t make a citizen’s arrest if you’re in a hurry.

Arizona Code 1939

Or angry.

The Arizona Attorney General interpreted the provisions in Attorney General Opinion I85-048. It concluded that a citizen making an arrest could be charged with a crime or be sued for false arrest, false imprisonment, assault and battery, negligence, and violation of civil rights. The opinion notes that the provisions have been applied to the actions of security guards and law enforcement outside their jurisdiction.

Nevertheless, the provisions remain a part of Arizona law, where they’ve been since 1939 (Arizona Code §44-125). It seems that this law isn’t going anywhere.

 

 

 

Researching the Old Legal Stuff

YaleWe recently purchased The Yale Law School Guide to Research in American Legal History, a new resource to help you find historical legal information that is very specialized or pre-dates the information that is readily available online. Some of the resources are digitized, and some only in print. It is available to use in the Reading Room at the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building.

For example, if you are looking for the laws on witchcraft, this source tells you step-by-step how to find them. Witchcraft was originally designated as a felony in the United Kingdom and carried the death penalty. Later revisions passed by Queen Elizabeth I reduced the severity of the penalty if nobody got hurt. This change enabled herbalists to practice their craft. Maybe this was the origin of the No Harm, No Foul standard.

Yale TOC

Later chapters address later eras. Apparently practice manuals were widely used in the Colonial era by justices, officials, and educated citizens. Some states had constitutions that predated the adoption of the Federal Constitution, and this reference has information on both, as well information on how to access statutes and cases from the early days of the Republic. Later chapters explain how the Reporter system for publishing case law was a pioneering innovation, how to do archival research, searching administrative law, and the advent of legal forms.

 

DictionariesAnother chapter discusses how international law and treaties affect U.S. law. Another introduces the use of dictionaries and biographical sources. The book concludes with tips for researching newspapers, statistical resources, and public records.

If you don’t know where to find the historical legal topic you are researching, we may just look here first!

Arizona’s Ever-Changing Constitution

What’s with all these propositions?

Arizona’s Constitution can be amended in 3 ways. The Legislature may vote to put a proposal on the ballot (Referendum). Second, the voters may submit a petition with the required number of signatures (Initiative).  Regardless of the means of getting on the ballot, if a majority votes for the proposition, it becomes law and the Constitution is changed. The 3rd method is for the Legislature to propose a Constitutional Convention. In that case, the voters must approve the Convention and any revisions that the Convention recommends. These routes to change our Constitution make for some vibrant, interactive, and often rowdy election cycles!

At the State of Arizona Research Library we have lots of materials about the Arizona Constitution. You can browse the Minutes or the Records of the Constitutional Convention of 1910.

 

blog pic 1a         blog pic 1b

 

You can compare the Arizona Constitution with the U.S. Constitution with these publications from the Arizona Secretary of State’s Office.

You can see how the Arizona Constitution has changed over the years at our Constitution Timeline here.

You can study the work of experts who have analyzed the Constitution by viewing these titles (and more) in our Reading Room or borrowing them through your public library via interlibrary loan. The Toni McClory book is also available for free as an ebook through Reading Arizona!

blog pic 2

And you can vote! There are 3 proposed Constitutional amendments on the ballot for the 2018 midterm election on November 6, 2018.  Here’s the publicity pamphlet for this year’s General Election.

Arizona’s Territorial Legislature

Arizona’s Legislature met to debate the issues of the day and pass laws, long before Arizona became a state. The Legislature met in Prescott between 1864 and 1867, and again between 1879 and 1889. In between they met in Tucson, before settling in to Phoenix in 1891 to stay.

We have copies of the enacted laws (“Session Laws”) passed by the Territorial Legislature dating from 1864 until Arizona became a state on February 14, 1912. We were the “Valentine to the Nation”. We also have copies of the Session Laws passed since Statehood, which you can research in print in our Reading Room or browse online on the Arizona Memory Project here.

Session LawsWe think it’s vital to preserve these irreplaceable materials. We keep a print copy that is accessible to users. We also make digital copies of everything we can, and post them online so people can access them from anywhere there is an internet connection. We set aside a good-quality preservation copy of each document. Then we select multiple duplicates whenever possible to use as replacements for the accessible copies. We keep the preservation copies and the duplicate replacement copies in separate climate-controlled spaces to assure that the information in them will not be lost.

These may not be things to curl up on a comfy couch and read. But preserving them is just one of the many things we do here at the State of Arizona Research Library.

If you wish to come see the Session Laws or any other historic or current law material in person, stop by the Polly Rosenbaum Archives and History Building at 1901 W. Madison Street, Phoenix any Monday through Friday (except state holidays).