From Library Journal
Federal judge Posner (Overcoming Law, Harvard Univ., 1995) and Silbaugh (law, Boston Univ.) present a state-by-state comparison of laws related to sexual conduct and activity. Applicable sections of state statutes are delineated across a range of relevant topics such as adultery, prostitution, rape, sodomy, consent, bigamy, and incest. Each section is accompanied by a discussion of the way most states tend to treat the topic as well as summary treatment of how other states may deviate in their treatment or in some cases ignore the topic completely. Especially noteworthy is how laws governing various sexual activities vary from state to state. New York, for example, permits public nudity by professional entertainers or performers, while other states are vague in this respect or prohibitive altogether. The book is especially useful for legal practitioners concerned with the predicate status of various types of sexual conduct, i.e., whether or not certain activities that are allowed in one state are prohibited in another, and vice versa. Recommened for academic and larger public library legal reference collections.?Phillip Young Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Compilations of laws on a particular topic are useful to lawyers, of course, but they are also valuable to social analysts, ethicists, individuals wanting to protect their lives from public inquiry, and the merely curious. This particular one is interesting because it focuses on a subject that is important to almost everyone, and it covers sometimes emotional topics objectively. The authors are a judge and a law school professor; their approach is thorough, documented, and thought-provoking.
Seventeen chapters summarize American laws covering rape, age of consent, abuse of position of trust or authority, incest, bestiality, and voyeurism, among others. It is interesting to note that 33 states have no statutes dealing with fornication, while 17 others make it a misdemeanor or a felony. One wonders why incest is a felony in 48 states but only a misdemeanor in Virginia and not even worth a statute in Rhode Island. Prostitution is only a misdemeanor in most states--but those laws require more pages than any other sex-related issues. The strongest language ("unnatural," "lascivious," "crime against nature" ) is reserved for sodomy laws, but 23 states have no statutes related to it.
Each chapter begins with an introduction and relevant definitions and then summarizes each jurisdiction's statutes, using the original language for flavor. The authors limited the work to state, federal, and District of Columbia statutes (not local ordinances or common law). They focus on statutes that impose criminal penalties for personal (i.e., not entrepreneurial) sexual activity. A glossary defines some terms not readily apparent to a nonlawyer, such as curtesy (the legal right a man aquires in his wife's estate by virtue of marriage) and per os (through the mouth, or oral sex). Citations to landmark decisions are provided, making this a useful tool for anyone who wishes to do further study--to prepare a case, draft a scholarly study, or be certain that what is legal in one state won't be a problem in another!
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