HBO’s popular dramatic series Deadwood depicts the transition from mining camp to town in the Dakota Territory Black Hills, circa 1877. Though the series is a work of fiction, its creators have rooted it in American history, including legal history.
How do you research the law of the Dakotas? What legal themes are explored in Deadwood? This guide will answer those questions as it highlights the variety of resources available at the Charlotte School of Law Library.
I. Territorial South Dakota Law Resources
Location: Compact Shelving, KF 135 .N7 N62
Territorial cases were reprinted in the Northwestern Reporter and can be located using the digest to that series. Alternatively, cases from the Dakota Territory Supreme Court can be ordered via Interlibrary Loan (ILL).In the future, territorial documents may be available via the LLMC Digital database.
Prestatehood Legal Materials / Michael Chiorazzi, Marguerite Most
Location: Reference, KF 240 .P688 2005
This two volume set provides detailed bibliographies and historical legal essays for all 50 states. The amount of coverage varies by state, but each entry includes both primary and secondary sources. South Dakota’s entry alone covers nearly 100 pages.
South Dakota Legal Research Guide / Delores A. Jorgenson
Location: Reference, KFS 3075 .J67 1999
In addition to explaining current legal research methods, this book also contains historical information about territorial legal issues. For example, there are sections on the Supreme Court of the Dakota territory, the history of the territorial government, and Indian law. Each section also includes a bibliography. Items not found in the CharlotteLaw collection can be ordered via ILL.
II. Legal Themes of Deadwood
Law in the “Wild West”
HeinOnline is an excellent resource for finding electronic copies of journal articles that are not in the physical collection of the library. Articles on Hein are reproduced in the original print format in PDF files.
Robert Aitken, Wild Bill Hickok: The Two Trials of Jack McCall, 25 Litigation 51 (1999)
Not only is the shooting of Wild Bill Hickok a major plot point in the first season of Deadwood, it is also an interesting footnote in the history of the double jeopardy doctrine. Aitken’s article discusses the both the events of the shooting and the criminal procedure involved in the two subsequent trials.
Nicci Lovre-Laughlin, Note, Lethal Decisions: Examining the Role of Prosecutorial Discretion in Capital Cases in South Dakota and the Federal Justice System, 50 S. Dakota L. Rev. 550 (2005)
Location: HeinOnline: Charlottelaw.edu –> Law Library –> Library Databases --> Hein Online –> Law Journal Library