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© Updated as of 2019
Survive Law

  • Kat Crossley

Guinness (Legal) World Records


Guinness’ famous world records aren’t just about who has the world’s longest fingernails. Have you ever wondered who the oldest judge in the world is? What about how long the world’s longest prison sentence is? Or the shortest-ever jury deliberations? Read on!

Longest Career as a Solicitor

UK solicitor Roy Mervin Palmer is 82 years old and has been a solicitor since November 1956.

Oldest Currently Serving Judge

While Australia likes to retire its judges at a certain age, America prefers to keep them going. At 104 years old, Judge Wesley E. Brown is the oldest serving federal judge in the US.

Despite this feat, Brown is not the oldest serving judge of all time. That honour and the title of longest serving judge goes to Missouri’s Judge Albert R. Alexander who was admitted to the Clinton County Bar in 1926 and retired in 1965 at just 105 years and 8 months of age.

Youngest Civil Judge

At the other end of the spectrum is Muhammad Ilyas. In 1952, at the tender age of 20 years and 9 months, Ilyas passed judge’s examination. Eight months later he took up the role of a Civil Judge in Lahore, Pakistan.

Longest Prison Sentence for a Single Crime

Surely a life sentence is the longest possible sentence, right? Wrong.

In 1981 an Alabama court found Dudley Wayne Kyzer guilty of murdering his wife and sentenced him to 10,000 years in prison. This was followed by additional convictions for the murder of a college student and his mother-in-law, adding two life sentences to his prison term.

Longest Prison Sentence for Multiple Counts

If you thought Kyzer was serving a lengthy sentence, Charles Scott Robinson will make you think again. In 1994 an Oklahoma City jury found Robinson guilty of six counts of sexual assault involving a child, and recommended a 5,000-year sentence for each count. The judge agreed and Robinson is currently serving his 30,000-year sentence.

First Documented Animal Execution

The first documented instance of capital punishment involving an animal occurred in the French town of Fontenay-aux-Roses in 1266. The accused was a pig who was found guilty of eating a child. The pig was then burnt to death.

Shortest Jury Deliberation

The law isn’t always slow of inefficient. In 2004, a jury at Greymouth District Court, New Zealand took a whole minute to acquit Nicholas Clive McAllister on charges of cultivating cannabis.

Largest Speeding Fine

Switzerland isn’t all about mountains, great chocolate and army knives. In 2010 Switzerland also became home to the world’s most expensive speeding ticket. The driver, who was doing 137km/h in an 80km/h zone received a US$290,000 ticket. That’s more than $5,000 for each kilometer over the speed limit.

Most Libel Damages Awarded to a Company

A 1993 Wall Street Journal article about a Houston brokerage firm proved to be a costly one. In 1997 the paper was ordered to pay US$222.7 million to the company, which claimed that the story had contained incorrect information that contributed to the firm’s demise.

First Country to Ban All Video Games

In 2002, the Greek government’s attempts to prohibit illegal gambling created a short-lived world first, with the government passing a law that banned all electronic games. The legislation was amended less than two months later to restrict only games that did not involve financial gain.

Fastest Realtime Court Reporter

Texan court reporter Mark Kislingbury has been the speed and real-time champion of America’s National Court Reporters Association since 2004 and is believed to be the fastest in the world. His stats: 360 words per minute, 97.23% accuracy.

First Legal Summons Served Online

Aussie lawyer Mark MacCormack and his partner Jason Oliver became the first to serve legal documents via Facebook. The ACT Supreme Court’s Master David Harper later ruled that the service was valid.

Longest Running Civil Case

Filed on 14 December 1972, the US case of Martin v. Sample is still open. The dispute arose from James Martin’s three-day detainment for medical and other assessments for military service. Martin was subsequently classified and precluded from serving in the Vietnam War.

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