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The Treason Trial of Aaron Burr

Spring 2021

In the treason trial of Aaron Burr, Chief Justice John Marshall, sitting as the trial judge under the judicial system at the time, found that his hated cousin, Thomas Jefferson, who reciprocated that hate, was indeed under a legal obligation to produce key papers within his possession—letters to him from the government’s key witness about the underlying charges. Chief Justice Roberts cited the holdings of that decision in his opinion rejecting the president’s objections to subpoenas directed to his accountants. Trump v. Vance, 140 S. Ct. 2412, 2020 U.S. LEXIS 3552 (July 9, 2020). Beyond the holdings, there is an entertaining story of legal history.

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