Legal Landmarks for the Lawyer on Vacation

Posted on 05-29-2018 by
Tags: vacation , work-life balance

A lawyer on vacation needs to do some legal sightseeing.  


A legal vacation is a lawyer’s best getaway from the law office. Rather than spending your vacation just lounging on a beach, here are 11 places to go where you can learn more about the law and experience first-hand the law’s impact on U.S. history.

1. Dayton, TN

The location of Tennessee v. Scopes (more commonly known as the Scopes Monkey Trial), Dayton, TN housed a battle in the determination of whether “modern science” should be taught in schools. John Scopes was a high school science and math teacher, who was substituting for the regular biology teacher. During that class, Scopes taught from a chapter of George William Hunter’s Civic Biology: Presented in Problems, which discusses the theory of evolution.

Police arrested Scopes for breaking Tennessee’s Butler Act, a law that made teaching human evolution in a state-funded school unlawful. With the prosecution and defense being represented by William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow, respectively, the “show” around the trial made it one of the most famous in our country’s history.

2. Topeka & Merriam, KS

One of the most important decisions in U.S. history, Brown v. Board of Education began its road to the Supreme Court in Topeka, KS, where the school board was located, via Merriam, KS where the school in question was located. This ruling most notably overturned Plessy v. Ferguson’s “separate but equal” doctrine. The importance of this case is immortalized in the National Park Service’s Brown v. Board of Education Historic Site in Topeka, KS.

3. Silicon Valley, CA

For the IP lawyers out there, this is a great spot to visit. Some of the smartest technology thinkers in the U.S. can be found in Silicon Valley, with plenty of interesting IP spots to visit.

At the top of the list should be the Computer History Museum in Mountain View, CA, which is meant to preserve as many artifacts and stories from the Information Age. But don’t stop there. The Tech Museum of Innovation in San Jose, CA offers an interactive experience into the history of Silicon Valley. Intel offers a museum of its own that covers innovation within the company since its inception. With so many technology related experiences in the area on top of these museums, it can be a fantastic experience for everyone.


4. Montgomery, AL

A catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement, Montgomery provides a plethora of glimpses into the period through museums and memorials. Starting with the former site of the Empire Theater (near the location of Rosa Park’s arrest), the Rosa Parks Library and Museum gives some phenomenal insights into her story. The Civil Rights Memorial is a can’t miss experience, as just one part of it immortalizes the names of those that died pursuing equal rights for all in the U.S. With a multitude of other places to visit, the two locations mentioned above are just options to get you started.

5. Asheville, NC

In 1956, during the early stages of the Cold War, the Supreme Court determined that they needed to relocate should the worst happen. They excluded large cities from their relocation plan because they believed large cities would be the main targets.

Eventually, the Supreme Court agreed to sign a contract with the Grove Park Inn in Asheville, NC, as it could house the necessary number of people and could provide space for courtrooms and clerical offices. The Supreme Court never utilized the space, and actually never visited the hotel, but the Grove Park Inn still stands today as a quaint getaway location.

6. Dyer, NV

Dyer, NV’s Boundary Peak caused two states to argue for over 100 years about which state the peak was in. Boundary Peak is one of two peaks on a mountain that is divided by the border line between California and Nevada, known as the Von Schmidt Line.

In 1863, the city of Aurora, NV elected two sets of officials to represent each state in resolving the border dispute. The dispute lasted until the state of California filed a lawsuit in 1977 against Nevada, stating that the peak was in California. In 1980, the Supreme Court ruled that the Von Schmidt Line was the official border line, putting Boundary Peak in Nevada, and making the peak the highest point in the state.

7. Daly City, CA

In 1859, the last notable American duel was fought outside of San Francisco. U.S. Senator David Broderick and ex-Chief Justice of California David Terry, long-time friends and political allies, met in a ravine near Lake Merced. The two men’s bitterness toward each other began due to differing opinions regarding slavery. Terry would end up wounding Broderick in the fight, and Broderick would die from the wound eight days later. Soon after, legislation turned against the custom. However, to this day, not all states have specifically outlawed the practice of dueling.

8. Brookfield, CT/New Haven, CT

An opportunity to see two very interesting historic sites in Connecticut, we start in Brookfield. The first ever murder in the history of the city, the Trial of Arne Cheyenne Johnson, offers a larger historical note: the first ever case where the accused offered demonic possession as a defense. Although unsuccessful in this argument, the incident was recreated in a TV movie called The Demon Murder Case.

In New Haven, CT, just a few hours from Brookfield, there’s a group of rocks known as Judges Cave. It received the name due to its connection to a notable 17th Century event. In 1649, 59 British judges sentenced King Charles I to death. Of those 59, three fled to North America in 1660, hoping to avoid punishment from Charles II. The three judges, Edward Whalley, William Goffe and John Dixwell, hid themselves between the rocks for an unknown number of weeks. They would eventually leave the area and head to Hadley, Massachusetts. In honor of their time there, streets in New Haven were named after the judges, as well as the naming of Judges Cave.

9. Salem, MA

In 1692, the city of Salem, MA became a center for an extremely jarring event: the Salem Witch Trials. The Salem Witch Museum was opened to provide an insight into the trials, featuring actual trial documents. There’s also a Memorial Park located in the city, with stone slab benches representing each of the victims executed (of course, if you want to watch the movie instead of reading the book like many of us did in high school, feel free to find a copy of The Crucible. :) )

10. Oklahoma City, OK

Built on the footprint of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building, the Oklahoma City Bombing Memorial pays respect to the over 160 lives that were lost on April 19,1995. The Memorial was dedicated five years to the day of the attack.

Following the bombing, laws were put in place to increase the amount of protection around federal buildings. The U.S. also passed the Antiterrorism and Effective Death Penalty Act, which affected habeas corpus in the U.S., as well as allowing the victims of crimes to be more involved in the judiciary process.

11. New York City, NY

A must-see memorial, the 9/11 Memorial in New York City offers an incredible perspective on how our country has changed since the turn of the millennium. How this event changed the laws in our country simply can’t be ignored.

From the changes in airport security to the Patriot Act, large changes were made to protect the United States from terrorist attacks. But it wasn’t just the U.S. government that instituted changes in their laws to combat terrorism. Germany, Canada, the UK and New Zealand all had anti-terrorism laws instituted due to what happened in NYC on September 11, 2001. 

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