Famous legal quotes


1. It is better to risk saving a guilty man than to condemn an innocent one.
– Voltaire

2. Justice delayed is justice denied.
– William E. Gladstone

3. Justice in the life and conduct of the State is possible only as first it resides in the hearts and souls of the citizens.
– Plato

4. Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
– Latin phrase meaning “Let justice be done though the heavens fall”; attributed to Lucius Calpurnius Piso Caesoninus, the father-in-law of Julius Caesar

5. Law is the embodiment of the moral sentiment of the people.
– William Blackstone

6. Justice denied anywhere diminishes justice everywhere.
–Martin Luther King, Jr.

7. Whereas the law is passionless, passion must ever sway the heart of man.
– Aristotle

8. I think the first duty of society is justice.
– Alexander Hamilton

9. It may be true that the law cannot make a man love me, but it can stop him from lynching me, and I think that’s pretty important.
– Martin Luther King, Jr.

10. The law is reason free from passion.

11. Reason is the life of the law; nay, the common law itself is nothing else but reason…The law, which is perfection of reason.
– SIR EDWARD COKE (1552-1634)

12. Our reason is our law.
-Milton; Paradise Lost

13. Lawyers are like other people — fools on the average; but it is easier for an ass to succeed in that trade than any other.
– Mark Twain

14. The law is the last result of human wisdom acting upon human experience for the benefit of the public.
– Samuel Johnson

15. No man is above the law and no man below it.
– Theodore Roosevelt

16. Ignorance of the law is no excuse in any country. If it were, the laws would lose their effect, because it can always be pretended.
– Thomas Jefferson, Letter to Andre Limozin, 22 Dec. 1787

17. It is difficult to make our material condition better by the best law, but it is easy enough to ruin it by bad laws.
– Theodore Roosevelt (1858-1919) 26th president of the U.S.

18. Good laws lead to the making of better ones; bad ones bring about worse.
– Jean Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778) Swiss political philosopher and essayist.

19. Possession is nine tenths of the law.
– Proverb

20. Judges ought to be more leaned than witty, more reverent than plausible, and more advised than confident. Above all things, integrity is their portion and proper virtue.
– Francis Bacon (1561-1626); British statesman and philosopher.

21. The True Administration of Justice is the Firmest Pillar of Good Government.
– Quotation taken from a letter written by George Washington to Attorney General Edmund Randolph on September 28, 1789.

22. To delay Justice is Injustice.
– William Penn

23. To no one will we sell, to no one will we refuse or delay, right or justice.
– Magna Carta of 1215, clause 40

24. Justice is itself the great standing policy of civil society; and any eminent departure from it, under any circumstances, lies under the suspicion of being no policy at all.
– Edmund Burke

25. Laws, in their most general signification, are the necessary relations derived from the nature of things.
– Montesquieu

26. Laws are only observed with the consent of the individuals concerned and a moral change still depends on the individual and not on the passage of any law.
– Eleanor Roosevelt

27. The law of heaven and earth is life for life.
– Lord Byron, The Curse of Minerva, Stanza 15.

28. We may appeal to the experience of every sensible lawyer, whether anything can be more hazardous or discouraging than the usual entrance on the study of the law.
– Sir William Blackstone, Commentaries, Book I., Section 1, p. 16.

29. The law does not consist in particular instances, though it is explained by particular instances and rules, but the law consists of principles, which govern specific and individual cases, as they happen to arise.
– Lord Mansfield, R. v. Bembridge (1783), 22 How. St. Tr. 155.

30. The laws alone are they that always speak with all persons, high or low, in one and the same impartial voice. The law knows no favourites.
– Sir Robert Atkyns, L.C.B., Trial of Sir Edward Hales (1686), 11 How. St. Tr. 1206.

31. It is far more important the law should be administered with absolute integrity, than that in this case or in that the law should be a good law or a bad one.
– John Duke Coleridge, Reg. v. Ramsey (1883), Cababe and Ellis’ Q. B. D. Rep. 134.

32. Judges could by their resolution alter the practice, but never the law.
– Blackburn, J., Reg. v. Charlesworth (1861), 9 Cox, C. C. 67.

33. Law and conscience are one and the same.
– Bacon, J., Watson v. Watson (1670), Style’s Rep. 56.

34. Lex prospicit non respicit: The law looks forward, not backward.
– Jenk. Cent. 284.

35. Man is born free and everywhere he is in chains.
– The opening sentence of Rousseau’s The Social Contract
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