An Important Day in Constitutional History: Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964)

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During Constitutional Law Resource Month at the Harris County Law Library, we are taking a look back at a landmark Supreme Court decision, Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964). Tomorrow marks the 55th anniversary of the decision and its role in reinforcing our Sixth Amendment rights.

Danny Escobedo was arrested without a warrant on January 20, 1960. As the prime suspect in the shooting death of his brother-in-law, he was held for questioning for more than 18 hours. Escobedo asked repeatedly for his attorney to be present, but repeatedly, his request was denied. It was only after being indicted that Escobedo was granted access to a lawyer, violating his Fifth and Sixth Amendment rights to due process and access to counsel. The Miranda v. Arizona, 384 US 436 (1966) decision just two years later implicitly overruled Escobedo, but it was, nonetheless, an important step in the process toward ensuring a constitutional right to counsel for the criminal accused.

75th Anniversary of D-Day

Not Forgotten

Today, we remember the sacrifices of the brave men and women who served our country in World War II. On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 troops composed of U.S. and allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy, France to fight the forces of fascism. (see Features: D-Day). Today, 75 years later, we honor those troops who fought for the very existence of democracy across the globe.

Operation Overlord

The invasion of Normandy, named “Operation Overlord,” was the culmination of months of planning and preparation. On the morning of the invasion, General Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his “Order of the Day,” commanding commencement of the operation. The order informed troops that they were “about to embark upon the Great Crusade, toward which we have striven these many months” and that they would “accept nothing less than full Victory!”

Find more on General Eisenhower’s D-Day preparations and orders online from the Eisenhower Presidential Library.

An Optimistic Proclamation

Against the backdrop of anticipating the greatest battle in American history, President Franklin D. Roosevelt issued Proclamation 2614 on May 3, 1944, encouraging his fellow Americans to celebrate Flag Day on June 14, 1944. He did so with knowledge of the stakes of Operation Overlord and the possibilities for failure. And yet, FDR’s optimism rings loudly, even 75 years later, in this paragraph found on the Harris County Law Library shelves in 58 Stat. 1134:

Let us then display our flag proudly, knowing that it symbolizes the strong and constructive ideals—the democratic ideals—which we oppose to the evil of our enemies. Let us display our flag, and the flags of all the United Nations which fight beside us, to symbolize our joint brotherhood, our joint dedication, under God, to the cause of unity and the freedom of men.

Expanding a Special Collection - The Law of Coahuila and Texas

We were pleased to welcome Dr. Jesús F. de la Teja, author, professor, and CEO of the Texas State Historical Association, and David A. Furlow, Executive Editor of the Journal of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, at the Harris County Law Library on Friday to mark the donation of two new volumes to the law library’s special collection - The Law of Coahuila and Texas, or La Ley de Coahuila y Texas.

Photo from left: Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan, Dr. Magdalena de la Teja, Dr. Jesús F. de la Teja, David A. Furlow, Law Library Director Mariann Sears, Law Library Deputy Director Joseph D. Lawson

Actas del Congreso Constituyente de Coahuila y Texas de 1824 a 1827

Dr. de la Teja signed the donated two-volume work entitled Actas del Congreso Constituyente de Coahuila y Texas de 1824 a 1827: Primera Constitución bilingüe, or Acts of the Constituent Congress of Coahuila and Texas, 1824–1827 : Mexico’s Only Bilingual Constitution, which he coauthored with Judge Manuel González Oropeza, former magistrate for the Federal Electoral Commission of Mexico. The work provides the text of the document and analysis of the pivotal role it played in the transition of Coahuila and Texas from joined states of Mexico to states separated by an international border. Given the content of the work, Dr. de la Teja’s inscription is apt:

For the Harris County Law Library,

With great appreciation for your efforts to preserve and promote ties with our sister republic,

/s/Jesús F. de la Teja


The Law of Coahuila and Texas, an historical resource collection

La Ley de Coahuila y Texas, una colección de recursos históricos

 The two-volume set is now a part of the Law Library’s collection of materials focused on the legal history of Southeast Texas and Northeast Mexico from Spanish colonization to statehood. It includes historical volumes of texts containing some of the region’s earliest laws to modern analysis that provide context and finding aids for modern researchers. Marking the end of the collection’s chronological scope is a reproduction of Captain William Emory’s survey of the U.S.-Mexico border issued in 1859. The three-volume set contains firsthand accounts of surveyors and illustrations of the region’s topography, flora, and fauna.

Digesto Constitucional Mexicano: Historia Constitucional de la Nacion - De Aguascalientes a Zacatecas: 1824-2017

On behalf of the Texas Supreme Court Historical Society, Mr. Furlow also donated the scholarly treatise entitled Digesto Constitucional Mexicano: Historia Constitucional de la Nacion - De Aguascalientes a Zacatecas: 1824-2017. This work, written by Judge Manuel González Oropeza, provides extensive insight into the historical evolution of constitutional law in an area of Mexico not previously covered by the Law Library’s collection. We appreciate the donation and are thrilled to make these resources available to all at the Harris County Law Library.

Hispanic Heritage Month

Saturday, September 15, marks the independence day of five Latin American countries: Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico, Chile, and Belize follow shortly after, on the 16th, 18th and 21st. The Harris County Law Library extends Happy Independence Day wishes to the more than 57 million Americans, and roughly 11 million Texans, who claim Hispanic roots. We would also like to commemorate Hispanic Heritage Month, which runs from September 15 through October 15, by recognizing the contributions of several of our era’s high-profile Hispanic lawyers, including Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor; former Attorney General Alberto Gonzales; United States Senators Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio; New Mexico Governor, Susana Martinez; and former Director of Intergovernmental Affairs under President Obama, Cecilia Muñoz. We also honor the trailblazers who came before, including the rich history of Latina and Latino lawyers practicing before the United States Supreme Court.

National Bar Associations

State and Local Bar Associations

Judicial Review

Justice John Marshall was the first to flex SCOTUS's Judicial Review muscle. 

Justice John Marshall was the first to flex SCOTUS's Judicial Review muscle. 

There is a commonly held, but incorrect, belief that Judicial Review in the United States began with Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. (1 Cranch) 137 (1803). While this ruling marked the first time the Supreme Court held a law passed by Congress to be unconstitutional, the roots of Judicial Review in our land go even deeper, stemming beyond the Constitutional Convention, beyond Federalist No. 78, and even beyond 18th century British colonization in North America.

Jamestown, the first successful, permanent British settlement in North America, was established by the Virginia Company of London in 1607. Puritan separatists landed near Plymouth Rock in 1620. Judicial review existed in some form or another in 17th century England until William of Orange overthrew James II in 1688, but remained in the collective consciousness of the geographically separate North American colonists. By the time the Constitutional Convention rolled around in 1787, a majority of the newly formed states had already witnessed the power of Judicial Review exercised by their own supreme courts.

Despite dying in Greenwich Village in 1804, Alexander Hamilton can now be seen nightly on Broadway.

Despite dying in Greenwich Village in 1804, Alexander Hamilton can now be seen nightly on Broadway.

Though the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists argued over the level of power the Federal Judiciary should be able to wield over the co-equal Executive and Legislative branches, the record is clear that Judicial Review was a foregone conclusion on both sides, and the question was one of limitation. Jefferson fretted that the Judicial Branch would become the ultimate arbiters of what is or is not Constitutional, and would rule like oligarchs. Hamilton argued that the Judiciary was the weakest branch, and that its existence would ensure its own continued weakness by encouraging the Legislative and Executive Branches to preemptively conform their works to Constitutional restraints.

The 1953 Warren Court attempted to desegregate American schools through its  Brown  ruling.

The 1953 Warren Court attempted to desegregate American schools through its Brown ruling.