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Sherrard Conversation | "The Heart Balm Torts, an American Anachronism"

Monday 25th of January 2021 18:30

Online registration has ended for this event


Online via Zoom (joining link will be circulated via email)


18:30 - 20:00

Ensure that you have joined before the QS is due to start.

Dress code

Smart Casual

Event Details

All members of the Inn are welcome to attend - please book a ticket

The Honourable J. Matthew Martin in conversation with Joshua Xerri.

In this session the Honourable J.Matthew Martin will discuss the heart balm torts: alienation of affections and criminal conversation, civil actions that the United Kingdom abandoned fifty years ago, but which still exist in Hawaii, Mississippi, Missouri, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Carolina, South Dakota, and Utah. They allow cuckolded spouses to sue for "injuries" to their marriages. While these may seem quaint or even the fodder for jokes, in North Carolina they are no joke, as unsuspecting defendants have found out.

The Honorable J. Matthew Martin is the first American Bar Association(ABA) Tribal Court Fellow. In 2013 Judge Martin retired from the Cherokee Court, the Tribal Court for the Eastern Band of Cherokee Indians after eleven years of service. He has written extensively on issues of traffic safety among the United States’ indigenous population and the jurisdiction of Tribal Courts. His book, “The Cherokee Supreme Court: 1823-1835" is being published this fall by Carolina Academic Press. Judge Martin has spoken nationally and internationally on issues ranging from federal Indian law to criminal law and the judicial process. For over 25 years, Judge Martin has been Board Certified as a Specialist in Federal and State Criminal Law by the North Carolina State Bar.  In the 1991 Term, at age 31, he argued Wade v. United States before the Supreme Court of the United States.  He received a BA with Honors from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a JD from the UNC School of Law.  He also holds a Ph.D. in Judicial Studies from the University of Nevada-Reno.  In 2014 the ABA’s National Conference of Specialized Court Judges awarded him the Franklin Flaschner Award, as the United States’ outstanding specialized court judge.

[Bookings will open at 18:00 on Friday 18 December]


This event is for members only.

Qualifying Session Details

Click here to see details of the QS Requirements and how to be credited with the QS for this session

Learning Outcomes:

  • Describe the Heart Balm Torts and their history in the American Legal System.
  • Understand and identify the differences between “alienations of affection” and “criminal conversation”
  • Recognise the implications of the Heart Balm Torts in modern day America.

Links to the Professional Statement, wider workings of the Bar, administration of justice or a public interest matter

It is important for students to be aware of more “discreet” laws in legal systems and the very real implications that they can have for individuals and their families. Although abolished by the U.K. the Heart Balm Torts are still in effect in 8 US states and are very complex legal claims that require an experienced practitioner to understand

Bookings and Cancellations

Where we have a waiting list we will offer your ticket to someone else, so please do cancel your ticket if you are no longer able to attend.

Click here to view our Bookings and Cancellation Policies


Data Protection & Photography

Please be aware that photography, audio and video recording may take place at our events. These may be used for promotional purposes by the Inn, including in printed publications, on our website, and on our social media accounts. If you do not wish to have your photograph taken or to have images of you used, please alert the EducationTeam at the start of the event. We are unable to guarantee that you will not be included in the background of photographs that are being taken. Contact: 020 7427 4800,

All personal data that the Inn stores and processes is held in accordance with the Data Protection Act 2018 and the Inn’s Data Protection Policy. You can ask the Inn to stop using your images at any time, or request to see the personal data that the Inn holds on you. For more information please visit the Data Protection page

Times and details for this event are subject to change. Please check this webpage for the most up to date information.