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DA FACTS: Ethel, a maid, had a sexual liaison with an officer, Major Bryant. After he discovered she became pregnant from the encounter, he rejected her. Thereafter, he was killed near the end of the war. Ethel attempted to raise the child on her own, but poverty and the challenges of parenting thwarted her efforts.

Lady Edith also gave birth to a child out of wedlock (born to unmarried parents). She had a romantic relationship with the married Michael Gregson, resulting in the birth of much-loved Marigold.

US LAW: In earlier times, a child born to an unwed mother told a tale on her. A woman who bore a child without the benefit of marriage was scorned and often relegated to a life of shame. Her child was labeled illegitimate and treated by the law as an outcast. The primary legal disabilities of such a child included ineligibility to inherit from the father, and disqualification for child support from the father. Today, those laws are a thing of the past. In a series of cases decided by the United States Supreme Court, the inferior legal status was held to violate the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution. All states now have statutes that protect children born out of wedlock. They are entitled to inherit from their parents on equal grounds as children born during a marriage. They also have the right to require a suspected father to submit to a blood test and, if paternity is confirmed, to financial support.

APPLICATION TO DA: Ethel’s unfortunate financial position would be somewhat ameliorated by the law’s requirement that unwed fathers contribute to the financial expenses of their children. When Major Bryant died in service, the child would be eligible to inherit from his estate. The added income might have enabled Ethel to afford to keep the child, avoiding the traumatic transfer of de facto custody to the child’s grandparents.


DA FACTS: Mr. Bates came to Downton Abbey at the invitation of Robert Crawley for the purpose of serving as the Earl’s valet. The job responsibilities include preparing the clothing Robert will wear, brushing and cleaning it, polishing boots, assisting in dressing him, readying gloves and hat, tidying the dressing room, ensuring toiletries are in their proper place and ready for use, and receiving and executing orders for the rest of the day. The job at Downton Abbey necessitates trips up and down stairs that go from the lower level where the servants gather, work and eat, to the main level of the mansion, and upstairs to the master bedroom and dressing area. The job demands some level of agility.

As was known to Robert, Mr. Bates’ leg was injured during the Boer Wars while Bates served as batman (a soldier assigned to a military officer as a servant) to Lord Grantham. As a result, Bates walks with a limp and a cane. When he first came to Downton Abbey, the other servants expressed concern that he would not be able to fulfill the requirements of the job. Thomas, who had sought the valet position and was disappointed he was not promoted, was particularly impatient with Mr. Bates’ limitations, few though they were.

US LAW: Leading up to the early 1990’s, the United States observed that many people with disabilities, were quite able to work but were nonetheless denied jobs, in large part because of stereotypes about handicaps and related medical needs. To enable disabled would-be workers to overcome the inaccurate stigmas, Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act. It outlaws discrimination against workers who, despite disabilities, are able to perform the essential functions of a job (the core, fundamental duties of a position).

APPLICATION TO DA: While Mr. Bates clearly suffered from a leg injury that inhibited him from walking normally and from other physical activities such as running, he was able to perform the tasks required of a valet. Therefore, it would be illegal for the Crawleys to terminate Bates because of his disability.


DA FACTS: Investigator Vyner was actively investigating Mr. Green’s death. Anna was asked to stop by at Scotland Yard while in London attending the wedding of Rose and Atticus. She concurs and is hoodwinked into participating in a line-up, called in England an ID parade. Surprisingly, a supposed eye witness identifies Anna as the person who pushed Green to his death.

US LAW: A line-up is an investigative technique used by police to help identify a perpetrator. A witness or victim observes a group, typically 5-6 individuals with similar characteristics. Witnesses are then asked whether anyone in the identity parade is the accused.

A line-up can be live where the people to be observed line up against a wall. A more common method of handling line-ups is to conduct a photo array, meaning the police present the witness a set of photographs of people who have common characteristics with the suspect. The witness then identifies which if any picture portrays the perpetrator.

The due process clause of the federal Constitution requires fair court proceedings. It encompasses certain rights of the suspect when in a line-up They include the following. The line-up must not be unduly suggestive of the suspect’s identity. Instead, the people or photos in the lineup should appear similar to the suspect, meaning the people should be of similar age, and have similar skin coloration, hair color, height, weight, and other like distinguishing characteristics. .A suspect has the right to the presence of an attorney. The lawyer can help ensure that the suspect’s rights are not violated. The officer who conducts the line-up should not be the official in charge of the investigation. This rule helps to prevent an over-zealous officer from compromising the defendant’s rights in an effort to obtain a positive identification from a witness.

If the suspect’s rights are violated during the line-up, the remedy is suppression, meaning the identification cannot be used by the prosecution as evidence at trial. If the prosecutor does not have another means to identify the suspect as the wrongdoer, the case against the suspect will be dismissed.

A suspect is not required to participate in a line-up and can decline to do so. Likewise, a person who is not a suspect can refuse take part. A defendant (a suspect who was arrested prior to the line-up) can be required to participate.

APPLICATION TO DA: Anna, who was a police suspect but not a defendant, could have declined to participate in the ID parade. Her circumstances demonstrate the risks of agreeing to do so. Had she requested an attorney, she no doubt would have been advised to decline participation.

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