Ch02

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Ch02

  1. 1. AN OVERVIEW OF THE U.S. LEGAL SYSTEM Chapter 2
  2. 2. Theories  Throughout history, law has regulated human interactions for different reasons:        Protect society’s interests Deter antisocial behavior Enforce moral beliefs Uphold individual rights Support those in power Punish lawbreakers Or seek retribution for wrongdoing
  3. 3. Two Prominent Theories  Consensus Theory    Holds that individuals in a society agree on basic values, on what is inherently right and wrong, and the laws that express these values Social contract exists where individuals agree to give up a portion of their individual freedom to benefit the security of the group Conflict Theory   Holds that laws are established to keep the dominant class in power Explains how laws protect the interests and values of the dominant groups in society
  4. 4. Current Legal System Goals Scales of Justice   Ensure fairness in balancing individual and society rights and needs, while preventing excessive government power Scales of justice represent keeping individual and societal needs in balance
  5. 5. Law Defined    In the US, laws are created by legislative bodies empowered by the people to pass laws. These laws are made through a legal process called: Promulgate American law must be enforced through legal means, in accordance with the tenets of the Constitution
  6. 6. Development of the Law  Laws evolves through four phases: 1. 2. 3. 4. People come together seeking collective security, to collectively gather food and to satisfy other mutual needs They discover that they need rules to maintain order and their sense of security Inevitably some individuals break the rules Consequences are established for breaking the rules
  7. 7. Development of the Law  Roman law had great influence on the American legal system   Justinian Code   Rules were based on tradition and a quest for fairness Distinguished public and private laws and influenced legal thought England common law  Royal judges traveled through territories to apply a broader or national norm as cases were decided. Law became more common throughout the country
  8. 8. Development of the Law  Common law- early English judge-made law, based on custom and tradition that was followed throughout the country. It is synonymous in American law with case law- based on previous cases  Parliament took over the role of promulgating law Offenses once considered personal wrongs (murder, rape) were redefined by English judges as crimes against the state because they disrupted the security of the entire community, not just the individual  This made offenders subject to state control and punishment 
  9. 9. Development of the Law   Common law depends heavily on through precedent and the concept of stare decisis Stare decisis- to stand by decided matters/ let the decision stand  Means that previous rules set forth in other cases shall be used to decide future cases
  10. 10. Continuing Need for Law     People need laws to know what behavior is acceptable and to deal with those who do not follow the law Laws should be obeyed for the good of all but, obedience to the law is voluntary You should obey the law because as a member of a larger group, everyone benefits if laws are obeyed Laws set parameters for social behavior, including the consequences for actions outside these parameters
  11. 11. American Law Lives  Human nature dictates that different needs are perceived at different times   Effective law should be flexible enough to respond to these changes American law is referred to as a living law, because it is not stagnant  It can change, expand or rescinded (repeal) to serve the overall system
  12. 12. American Law Lives     Constitutional Amendments show how law can advance and retreat as needs and expectations change  Constitutional Amendments are not easily or frequently added or removed 2/3 of each house of Congress, or conventions called by 2/3 of the state legislatures to propose constitutional amendments To be ratified, ¾ of the state legislatures must agree Out of 7,000 proposals, only 33 have been passed and submitted to the states  17 in total have been successfully ratified
  13. 13. American Law Lives  Most influential amendments came after the civil war:      13th Amend.-abolished slavery 14th Amend.- prevented the states from denying former slaves equal protection and due process 15th Amend.- right to vote regardless of race 19th Amend.- right to vote for women 21st Amend.- repealed prohibition
  14. 14. Categorizing Law  Who?  What?  How?
  15. 15. Who? (Jurisdiction)  Who makes the law? Who does the law affect?   The group that has jurisdiction or authority to promulgate that law. Legislative body, city counsel, or state or federal legislatures Jurisdiction- authority to establish a law, authority of a court to hear certain cases or the authority the law has over a specific group of people
  16. 16. Who?  Statutory law- laws set by legislatures or governing bodies having jurisdiction to make such law     Statutory law can be referred as codified law Codified law- law specifically set forth in organizes, structured codes such as the US criminal code, state statutes or local ordinances Ordinances- laws or codes established at the local level, that is, the municipal or county level No statutory law can violate the Constitution
  17. 17. How? (Procedural)  Substantive law- establishes rules and regulations    traffic law Criminal law Procedural law- how the law is to be enforcedhow and when police can stop people   How and when police can stop people Violations of procedural law can have consequences for the government
  18. 18. What? (criminal or civil)   Who is the victim? Is it a public wrong (criminal) or a private wrong (civil)? The victim in criminal law is the community, because it disrupts the community. Society’s welfare has also been violated  This is why the governments name, representing the people, versus the defendant appears on court docket  US v. Smith, State of Florida v. Smith
  19. 19. What? (criminal or civil)  Crimes- Acts defined by federal or state statute or local ordinance that are punishable; wrongs against the government and the people it serves.  Ex.- murder, rape, robbery, etc.  Also called “penal codes” – criminal codes or laws  Tort- civil wrong by one individual against another  Ex.- child support, eviction, divorce  Plaintiff v. Defendant (Smith v. Jones)
  20. 20. What? (criminal or civil)  Sometimes there is overlap of criminal and civil law       A drunk driver causes a crash and hurts an individual. Is this Criminal or Civil? It can be both. Can be guilty of DUI (crime) and be held civilly liable for the injuries caused to others by the tort committed. The government would pursue criminal charges The victim would file a lawsuit in pursuit of damages i.e. –  The victim’s families were awarded
  21. 21. Current Events Criminal Case Ca lifo rnia v . Sim p s o n Civil Case Re la tiv e s o f Vic tim s v . Sim p s o n OJ Simpson was acquitted in a criminal court for the murder of his ex-wife and her friend  Found liable in civil court for wrongful death   Families were awarded $33.5 million
  22. 22. Burden of Proof   Criminal- the government must prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt (99%) Civil- plaintiff must prove their case by a preponderance of the evidence (means-more likely than not) 51%  Goal of civil actions is to right the wrong
  23. 23. The Court System    The court has two main functions:  Settle controversies between parties  To decide the rules of law that apply in the specific case Article III of the US Constitution established the federal judicial system The types of cases a court can hear depend upon its jurisdiction...  The authority of a legislative body to establish a law or a court to hear case  The authority a law has over a specific group of people
  24. 24. Jurisdiction  Three levels of jurisdiction   Federal, state, and local There are 6 types of jurisdiction:       Original Appellate General Limited Exclusive Concurrent
  25. 25. Jurisdiction  Original- Courts authorized to hear cases first, try them and render decisions    Trial courts Appellate- describes a court authorized to review cases and to either affirm or reverse the actions of the lower court General- courts having the ability to hear a wide range of cases
  26. 26. Jurisdiction     Limited- restricted of the types of cases a particular court might hear Exclusive- courts only hear specific cases Concurrent- two or more courts authorized to hear a specific type of case Venue- geographic area in which a specific case may come to trial, and the area from which the jury is selected
  27. 27. The Court System   The US judicial system is two-tiered, consisting of state and federal court systems At either tier, there are three levels: 1. 2. 3.  Lower court (trial court) Appellate court Court of last resort (Supreme court) These levels exist to assure that if either side thinks procedural rules were violated, they can appeal the case to a higher court
  28. 28. State Court System Lower Courts    Include municipal, inferior and limited jurisdiction and county courts Municipal courts hear ordinance violations, minor criminal cases, traffic cases and sometimes more major cases Limited to the city or county in which the court is located
  29. 29. State Court System Lower Courts   Inferior include probate, family, police traffic and justice of the peace courts States have established these courts to eliminate the expense and inconvenience of traveling to a county or district court
  30. 30. State Court System Lower Courts   County often have exclusive jurisdiction over misdemeanor cases and civil cases involving a limited amount of money Superior courts are the highest of trial courts with general jurisdiction  This is where most felony cases enter the system  Also called district court, circuit court or courts of common plea
  31. 31. State Court System Intermediate Appellate Courts   Created to reduce the caseloads of the state supreme courts Appeal cases generally go to this court first
  32. 32. State Court System State Supreme Courts     Highest courts in the state and generally called supreme courts Power is given to them by the state constitution Oversee the intermediate appellate courts and have few areas of original jurisdiction. Petition for certiorari- to review the decision of an appeals court  Lower court must abide by the decision of the higher court
  33. 33. Federal Court System     Specialized courts District courts with general jurisdiction 12 Circuit courts of Appeal U.S. Supreme Court (must capitalize)
  34. 34. Special US Courts  These courts you may never have any dealings with:      Court of Military Appeals Court of Claims Court of Customs and Patent Appeals Customs Court and Tax Court
  35. 35. US District Court   Are trial courts with general and original federal jurisdiction Try both criminal and civil cases    Civil-plaintiff and defendant must be from different states and the suit must be more than $10,000 Criminal- tries a very limited number of cases Each state has at least 1 District Court, and larger states have as many as 4  There are 94 district courts
  36. 36. US Court of Appeals    Like the Intermediate appellate courts in the state court system Ease caseload of the Supreme Court Assigned to one of the eleven circuits    Also a DC circuit and a Federal Circuit Court Have jurisdiction over final decisions of federal district courts They are courts of last resort in most federal cases
  37. 37. U.S. Supreme Court     Ultimate court of appeal Chief function is as an appellate court Restricted by act of Congress to hear only certain types of appeals from federal appeals courts and state supreme courts The case must involve a state or federal statute alleged to be unconstitutional
  38. 38. U.S. Supreme Court   There is no right to have a case heard by the Supreme Court Only hears cases of extreme national importance to set important policy:     Abortion Busing School prayer Only court empowered to handle lawsuits between states
  39. 39. Officers of the Court       Judges Lawyers Clerks of the court Sheriffs Marshals Bailiffs
  40. 40. Judges   Sometimes called justices or magistrates Elected in some states and appointed in others     Federal judges are nominated and appointed Preside over trials and hearings Render decisions Oversee the selection of juries and instruct them during jury cases
  41. 41. Lawyers  Criminal cases - Prosecutor or Defense attorney    Prosecutor represents the government Defense attorney represents the accused Civil cases- Plaintiff’s lawyer represents the party bringing the suit
  42. 42. Clerks    Schedule cases Officially record all business conducted by the court Receive and file all official documents related to a case  Summons and complaints (examples)
  43. 43. Sheriffs and Marshals     Serve summons and other court documents Enforce court order Sheriffs function at the state level Marshals function at the federal level
  44. 44. Bailiffs   Responsible for keeping the courtroom proceedings orderly and dignified Protect everyone in the court room
  45. 45. An Adversarial Judicial System    A legal system which places one party against another to resolve a legal issue Only in actual conflicts will a judicial body hear the case Will not entertain “what it” situations
  46. 46. Doctrines that Govern What Cases Will be Heard  Standing   Mootness   Having an actual interest in the matter of dispute Exists when the issues that gave rise to a case have either been resolved or have disappeared Ripeness   When a case comes to court too soon Courts cannot get prematurely involved in a case that can be resolved through other means
  47. 47. The Big Picture: Components of the US Legal System     The courts are only one component of the American system of justice There are also law enforcement and the correctional systems Law enforcement officers are known as the “gatekeepers” of the criminal justice system Correctional officials handle the offenders after a court renders that they are guilty of a crime
  48. 48. Juvenile vs. Adult Systems – Different (same) terminology Juvenile Adult  Taken into custody  Arrested  Accused of delinquent acts  Accused of crimes  Petition  Information or indictment  Juveniles are detained  Adults are jailed  No right to bail  Right to bail  Private court proceedings  More formal, public  No right to jury trial  Right to jury trial  Proof beyond a reasonable doubt  Proof beyond a reasonable doubt  Right to an attorney  Right to an attorney  Appeals to higher court  Appeals to higher court  Guilty = delinquent  Guilty = criminal
  49. 49. The Changing Face of American Criminal Justice and Constitutional Law     The Constitution is important at every juncture within the criminal and juvenile justice systems Constitution limits the role of government agents Constitution sets guidelines to maintain the intentions of the framers All involved in the administration of justice should understand constitutional rights
  50. 50. American Criminal Justice Beyond Our Borders    With technology the world is becoming closer There is interest in laws of other countries Comparative law   Comparing and contrasting laws to expand understanding of law and legal theory How do our laws impact the laws of other nations??

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