Missouri law was the pattern for the criminal statutes written by the Bogus Legislature. A broad based statute providing for the "punishment of certain crimes and offenses" was passed [House Journal, 149] as were rules of criminal procedure, revised slightly from Missouri law to reflect different court and officer names. [House Journal, 240] Constables and their duties were defined and jail and jailers were provided for. [House Journal, 272]

1848 Brunswick Billiard Table

Representative Harris moved to "postpone indefinitely" a bill to outlaw billiard tables.

Specific crimes "involving public trust" [House Journal, 285] and "affecting the administration of justice" [House Journal 280] were defined, while a bill concerning crimes "affecting the security of persons and property" was tabled indefinitely. A bill that would have outlawed billiard tables in the Territory was also "postponed indefinitely." [House Journal, 270]

A statute outlawing "offenses against public morals and decency" [House Journal, 310] continues to draw comment today. The illegality of abortion under this section [1855 Statutes, Chapter 48] was cited in a dissenting Supreme Court opinion in Roe v. Wade, 410 US 113 (1973), as part of the history of such laws.

Sodomy was defined as "a crime against nature" and was made a felony punishable by a term of not less than ten years." [1855 Statutes, Chapter 28] Since no maximum was established, life imprisonment presumably was permissible, said the Kansas Supreme Court in City of Topeka v. Movsovitz, 960 P.2d 267 (Kan. 1998), in another review of Kansas legal history.

Proscription of cruelty to animals, said the court in State v. Claiborne, 505 P.2d 732 (Kan. 1973), was "directed toward protection of the four-legged animal, especially beasts of the field and beasts of burden." The 1855 statute [1855 Statutes, Chapter 53] prohibited the cruel maiming, beating or torture of any horse, ox or other cattle. There was no history in Kansas of protecting the gamecocks the court was considering in 1973.

Horse stealing, of course, was a serious crime. The Legislature provided that "persons convicted of grand larceny shall be punished in the following cases, as follows: First, for stealing a horse, mare, gelding, colt, filly, mule or ass, by confinement and hard labor, not exceeding seven years." One writer traced further developments in the larceny law to 1870 when the new crime of cattle rustling was added and to 1920 when auto theft took precedence. [Yost, Lynching, 182ff]

Among the crimes "affecting the administration of justice" was jail break. An Oklahoma court in 1961 found the statute unchanged since it was passed by the Bogus Legislature:

"If any person confined in a place of confinement for any term less than for life, or in lawful custody going to the place of confinement, shall break such prison or custody and escape therefrom, he shall upon conviction be punished by confinement and hard labor for a term not exceeding five years, to commence at the expiration of the original term of imprisonment." [Ralph v. Turner, 366 P.2d 777(Okla.1961)]

In 1859 the free-state legislature appointed a committee "to propose an entire code of laws, upon all subjects of general legislation pertaining to the interests of the Territory of Kansas." The commissioners later reported that when their code was adopted, the "laws of 1855 were repealed." [Blackmar, History, Vol. 1, 382] But in fact, many statutes, like the jail break law, were not changed.

Charles Clark