Justice system-lop-sp09-1231807181806271-3-1

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  • 1. The American legal system An overview
  • 2. Sources of law• Constitutional law – U.S. Constitution – State constitutions • May grant more rights than the U.S. Constitution, but not fewer • Same-sex marriage in Massachusetts – Judicial review
  • 3. Sources of law• Constitutional law• Statutory law – Congress – State legislatures – Local authorities
  • 4. Sources of law• Constitutional law• Statutory law• Administrative law – Federal Communications Commission
  • 5. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society
  • 6. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)
  • 7. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity?
  • 8. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity? – Copyright infringement?
  • 9. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity? – Copyright infringement? – Reporting on the movement of troops in time of war?
  • 10. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity? – Copyright infringement? – Reporting on the movement of troops in time of war? – Invasion of privacy?
  • 11. Types of civil law• Contracts
  • 12. Types of civil law• Contracts• Torts
  • 13. Types of civil law• Contracts• Torts – Common media torts: • Libel • Invasion of privacy • Copyright infringement
  • 14. Court systemsU.S. Supreme State Supreme Court CourtsU.S. Appeals State Appeals Courts Courts U.S. District State District Courts Courts
  • 15. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution
  • 16. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution• Takes cases through a writ of certiorari — “granting cert”
  • 17. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution• Takes cases through a writ of certiorari — “granting cert”• Only four of the nine justices are needed to grant cert
  • 18. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution• Takes cases through a writ of certiorari — “granting cert”• Only four of the nine justices are needed to grant cert• Chief justice is also administrative head of federal court system
  • 19. U.S. Supreme Court (2006)
  • 20. U.S. Supreme Court• John Roberts, 53 • Clarence Chief Justice Thomas, 60• John Paul • Ruth Bader Stevens, 88 Ginsburg, 75• Antonin Scalia, 72 • Stephen Breyer, 70• Anthony • Samuel Alito, 58 Kennedy, 72 • Sonia Sotomayor, 55
  • 21. Jurisdiction• Geographic – Libel cases usually handled at state level – What if the parties are in different states?
  • 22. Jurisdiction• Geographic• Subject matter – Copyright always handled at federal level – Obscenity can be handled at state or federal level
  • 23. Jurisdiction• Geographic• Subject matter• Internet – Cybersell of Florida and Arizona – Yahoo! and French law – “Libel tourism”
  • 24. The appeals process• “Justiciable controversy” – Courts cannot rule on cases that are not before them – An exception: the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court issues “advisory opinions”
  • 25. The appeals process• “Justiciable controversy”• Appeals courts do not retry cases – Was the law correctly applied? – Is the law constitutional? – Rulings are decided on narrow grounds, and cases are usually sent back to lower court
  • 26. The appeals process• “Justiciable controversy”• Appeals courts do not retry cases• Judges must follow precedent – Relevant higher-court ruling prevails – Ruling from another district can be a guide – State and federal judges must consider each other’s rulings – Doctrine of stare decisis