Week2 libr430


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Week2 libr430

  1. 1. Reading Law as Text Week 2
  2. 2. Written Forms of Law <ul><li>Constitution </li></ul><ul><li>Cases </li></ul><ul><li>Statutes </li></ul><ul><li>Regulations </li></ul><ul><li>Treaties and International Agreements </li></ul>
  3. 3. Each one is read and used differently <ul><li>The goal is the same: What is the rule of law? And what policy is driving it? </li></ul><ul><li>For enacted law (cases, regulations, constitutions) somewhat easy: Once an applicable law is established it is the rule; Policy is still tricky! </li></ul><ul><li>Cases: Much more complicated for rule and policy. </li></ul>
  4. 4. Statutory Interpretation <ul><li>Must understand the policy that supports the law </li></ul><ul><li>How? Language alone? History? Current needs? </li></ul><ul><li>No agreement on how this should be done </li></ul><ul><li>Many statutes are written with sections detailing legislative findings </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes history is the best indicator </li></ul><ul><li>Other times current policy offers the clearest direction </li></ul>
  5. 5. Legislative History <ul><li>Can be useful in terms of determining clear meaning at the time of a statute’s drafting </li></ul><ul><li>Can be incomplete or misleading </li></ul><ul><li>Courts, however, are frequent to question on issues of legislative history as well as base parts of opinion on it </li></ul>
  6. 6. Current Public Policy <ul><li>Current public policy arguments is controversial </li></ul><ul><li>Practical, however, in terms of preventing absurd results </li></ul><ul><li>Oftentimes summarized like this: The intent of the drafters should prevail and the drafters would never have supported such an absurd result </li></ul>
  7. 7. Reading Statutes <ul><li>Look at the ‘big picture’ </li></ul><ul><li>Know the overall sections and how they fit together </li></ul><ul><li>Pay attention to definitional sections in the beginning </li></ul><ul><li>Is there a section reporting legislative findings? </li></ul><ul><li>Make sure you understand the role of contingent language (certain sections may only apply in certain circumstances!) </li></ul><ul><li>Check cases that interpret, apply, construe your statute. </li></ul>
  8. 8. Cases <ul><li>Analyzing cases is more complex </li></ul><ul><li>Must extract rule of law and policy </li></ul><ul><li>Most cited cases are appellate </li></ul><ul><li>They must be read with an eye towards the past (procedurally and substantively; the decision and its role in precedent) and the future (stare decisis) </li></ul>
  9. 9. Parts of a Case <ul><li>Facts </li></ul><ul><li>Procedural History </li></ul><ul><li>Questions Presented (Issues) </li></ul><ul><li>Rules of Law </li></ul><ul><li>Application of Law to Fact </li></ul><ul><li>Holding </li></ul><ul><li>Disposition </li></ul><ul><li>Dissent and Concurrences </li></ul>
  10. 10. Facts <ul><li>Just because they are short and easiest to understand doesn’t mean you merely scan them! </li></ul><ul><li>Arguably most important part of a case. Why? </li></ul><ul><li>Facts are dependent upon rules and policy for relevance. </li></ul>
  11. 11. Procedural History <ul><li>How the case got to the court that is hearing it. </li></ul><ul><li>Fundamentally important: Why is this court hearing this case? Provides basis for standard of review </li></ul><ul><li>Standard of review determines what issue the court must decide and the scope of that decision for subsequent cases. </li></ul>
  12. 12. Questions Presented <ul><li>The issues the court will hear </li></ul><ul><li>In appeals courts the questions presented ask whether the lower court was wrong or not </li></ul>
  13. 13. Rules of Law <ul><li>Rights and duties enumerated via announcing rules of law </li></ul><ul><li>Determine the result of the decision as well as similar future decisions </li></ul><ul><li>Can be difficult! Not always in one place neatly listed; May need to be “constructed” </li></ul><ul><li>Not mechanical and regularly open to interpretation </li></ul><ul><li>Work of lawyer: Interpreting rule to client’s best advantage </li></ul>
  14. 14. Application of Laws to Fact <ul><li>Court decides each element of each rule and their applicability to the facts involved </li></ul><ul><li>Policy decisions regarding applicability of facts becomes considerably important </li></ul><ul><li>Policy discussions can become unstructured and difficult to follow! </li></ul><ul><li>Courts will generally look at competing policy considerations and apply facts in order to justify their decision </li></ul>
  15. 15. Holding <ul><li>The decision of the court with respect to the issue presented </li></ul><ul><li>Most important part of the case </li></ul><ul><li>Many times explicit but not always </li></ul><ul><li>Sometimes it must be identified </li></ul><ul><li>Can be indeterminate </li></ul><ul><li>Dictum gets in the way! </li></ul>
  16. 16. Dictum <ul><li>Latin phrase obiter dictum meaning “a word said in passing” </li></ul><ul><li>Not binding upon subsequent courts </li></ul><ul><li>Persuasive </li></ul><ul><li>Promotes flexibility in the law since it indicates how future cases may or may not be decided </li></ul><ul><li>Does not need basis in original case's facts; Conjectural? </li></ul>
  17. 17. Disposition, Dissents, Concurrences <ul><li>Affirmed, Reversed or Remanded </li></ul><ul><li>Per curiam decisions (by the court) have no opinion by or dissents/concurrences (increasingly rare) </li></ul><ul><li>Concurrences and dissents are not binding </li></ul><ul><li>Concurrences may seek to limit an application of a holding or limit future decisions or the opposite (strengthen) </li></ul>
  18. 18. Stare Decisis in context <ul><li>Holdings of the court are precedent that future courts should uphold </li></ul><ul><li>A ‘heavy presumption that cases will be followed’ yet they can be overturned </li></ul><ul><li>Courts don’t seek best result but rather consistency among previous cases </li></ul><ul><li>Substantial justification is required to to depart from precedent </li></ul>
  19. 19. Rights and Duties <ul><li>Rules of law must always be identified in the context of rights or duties created </li></ul><ul><li>The law can define legal relationships (liability, privilege, immunity) </li></ul><ul><li>Duty generally refers to a legal relationship and the requirement to take an action (reasonable care) </li></ul><ul><li>Right allows someone to take an action based upon a legal relationship </li></ul>