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common law

Constitution, which prohibited ex post facto legal guidelines at both the federal and state stage, the query was raised whether or not there might be common law crimes within the United States. It was settled in the case of United States v. Hudson, which determined that federal courts had no jurisdiction to define new common law crimes, and that there must all the time be a (constitutional) statute defining the offense and the penalty for it. After the American Revolution, Massachusetts became the first state to establish an official Reporter of Decisions. As newer states wanted law, they typically looked first to the Massachusetts Reports for authoritative precedents as a foundation for their own common law.

But notice that in each case, the statute sets the final principles, but the interstitial common law process determines the scope and application of the statute. With the transition from English law, which had …