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A Jurisprudence of PowerVictorian Empire and the Rule of Law$
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Rande W. Kostal

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780199551941

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: January 2009

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199551941.001.0001

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The Tenets of Terror: Reinventing the Law of Martial Law

The Tenets of Terror: Reinventing the Law of Martial Law

(p.193) 4 The Tenets of Terror: Reinventing the Law of Martial Law
A Jurisprudence of Power

R. W. Kostal

Oxford University Press

The dramatic decision of the Jamaica Committee to prosecute Edward Eyre for murder in the English courts spawned the publication of a voluminous and highly contentious technical legal literature on the law of martial law. This work focussed on the legality, or otherwise, of the arrest, detention, trial and execution by court martial of George Gordon. It raised questions about the nature and scope of ‘martial law’ and its place, if any, within the British constitution. While legal writers such as W. F. Finlason defended expansive doctrines of martial law, others (such as Frederic Harrison) used the same legal materials to defend the opposite thesis. The chapter considers how both readings turned on the legal writer's underlying and usually unstated political convictions. The jurisprudential debate over the nature and scope of martial law thereby became another proxy war for the even more fundamental political and ideological conflicts of the era.

Keywords:   Jamaica controversy, constitutional and political jurisprudence, W. F. Finlason, Frederic Harrison

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