In Chambers, Fall 2017

feature In Chambers | Fall 2017 5 Toward the Legal History of Texas: An Evaluation of Death on the Lonely Llano Estacado by Bill Neal by Josiah M. Daniel, III 1 I n many ways, law is history. As a professor of law and history once re- marked, “there is a close relationship between law and history.” Another commentator observed “a fairly close relationship between the day-to- day methodology of the judicial process and that of historical scholar- ship.” 2 Moreover, legal history is important for legal education 3 because “law stu- dents can come to understand better the legal system of which they are to be a part. . . . they will thereby also acquire a healthy respect for the past—which is the beginning of wisdom.” 4 Another author adds that legal history explores “the rather unique and sensitive role of American lawyers . . . as they have at- tempted to respond to conflicting demands of clients, courts, and the sovereign people.” 5 Other legal historians and law professors have noted in different ways the benefits of a study of legal history. 6 Legal history—which I broadly conceive to be the history of law, lawyers, and courts—is thus important to read and to know not only for the law student and the practicing lawyer, 7 but also for the judge. Among Texas lawyers today, no one has plowed the field of Texas legal history more earnestly than Bill Neal, a veteran criminal lawyer of Abilene. In books such as Getting Away with Murder on the Texas Frontier: Notorious Killings and Celebrated Trials 8 and From Guns to Gavels: How Justice Grew Up in the Outlaw West , 9 among others, 10 Neal has applied his skills and experience to analyze rather ancient facts he has excavated from old court records, newspapers, and other archival sources, as well as from available sec- ondary accounts, to solve and then to robustly write up cold cases and sensational, unsolved crimes of the 19th and early 20th centuries.