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Codification is a ubiquitous feature of modern legal systems. Codes are hailed as tools for making law more convenient to find and to apply than law found in court precedents or in ordinary statutes. Codes are commonplace in most countries. The United States is anomalous. It does not have true codes. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when many countries adopted systematic civil, criminal and procedural codes, the United States considered, but did not adopt such codes.

This Article discusses the absence of codes in American law, identifies American substitutes for codes, relates the history of attempts to create American codes and concludes with observations about the consequences of no-codes.

This article is important because it forces us to look at our legal system from a distance as foreign observers do. It makes us contemplate the chaotic conditions that prevail here. It should make us yearn for best practices that prevail elsewhere.

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