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Unpublished Paper
Laws without Order: The price the U.S. pays for no codes
  • James R Maxeiner, University of Baltimore School of Law
Codification is a ubiquitous feature of modern legal systems. Codes are hailed as tools for making law more convenient to find and to apply than law found in court precedents or in ordinary statutes. Codes are commonplace in most countries. Most reports and presentations at the Congress deal with how codification is effected and not with whether it is.
The United States is anomalous. It does not have true codes. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when many countries adopted systematic civil, criminal and procedural codes, the United States considered, but did not adopt such codes.
Where other reports to the Codification Congress deal with how to make codes better, this Article deals with the consequences of not having codes at all. It is an update on the consequences of a century of inaction.
This Article discusses the absence of codes in American law, identifies American substitutes for codes, relates the history of attempts to create American codes and concludes with observations about the consequences of no-codes. It includes an Annex by Mr. Agustin Parise on codes in Louisiana.
This article is important for Americans because it forces them to look at their legal system from a distance as foreign observers do. It makes them contemplate the chaotic conditions that prevail here. It should make them yearn for best practices that prevail elsewhere.
  • Codification,
  • Codes,
  • Legal methods,
  • statutes,
  • precedents
Publication Date
March 18, 2012
Citation Information
James R Maxeiner. "Laws without Order: The price the U.S. pays for no codes" (2012)
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