Common law

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Common law

  1. 1. The common law<br />COMM 502, Jan. 19, 2011<br />
  2. 2. Review question<br />A statute is<br />A type of law made by the courts<br />A type of law made by Congress<br />A type of law made by administrative agencies<br />An amendment to the Constitution<br />
  3. 3. Review question<br />Government agencies like the Federal Communications Commission create rules that make up the bulk of what we know as <br />common law. <br />statutory law. <br />administrative law. <br />corporate law. <br />
  4. 4. Review question<br />The concept of “statutory construction” best refers to which one of the following?<br />The process of legislative bodies creating and drafting the common law<br />The process of legislative bodies creating and drafting statutes<br />The process of courts and judges interpreting the meaning of the common law<br />The process of courts and judges interpreting the meaning of statutes<br />
  5. 5. COMMON LAW<br />
  6. 6. England, before 1154<br /><ul><li>Law as a way to administer justice (violence, theft, etc.)
  7. 7. The King was considered the protector of the country
  8. 8. Ecclesiastical and civil jurisdiction
  9. 9. County courts (bishops, sheriffs)</li></li></ul><li>Henry ii (1154 – 1189)<br /><ul><li>Need to restore authority after civil war
  10. 10. Need to assert control over the Church</li></li></ul><li>Henry ii: legal reform<br /><ul><li>Created a system of law “common” to the entire country
  11. 11. Sent judges from Court
  12. 12. Granted judges power to decide “in the name of the Crown”</li></li></ul><li>Henry ii: legal reform (cont)<br /><ul><li>Created a system of law “common” to the entire country
  13. 13. Sent judges from Court
  14. 14. Granted judges power to decide “in the name of the Crown”
  15. 15. Jury system</li></li></ul><li>Main principle<br />Stare decisis<br />“let the decision stand”<br />
  16. 16. Main principle<br />Precedent<br />If facts are similar, follow the decisions and law interpretations of earlier judges<br />
  17. 17. Common law<br />Inductive system<br />Out of a body of judicial decisions, rules of adjudication (“laws”) develop<br />
  18. 18. Main principle<br />Common law <br />= <br />“judge-made law”<br />
  19. 19. U.S.<br />After 1789 <br />English common law became the basis for American common law<br />
  20. 20. precedent<br />Tradition <br />Predictability<br />Flexibility ??<br />
  21. 21. How can common law correct earlier errors?<br />
  22. 22. Four actions re precedent<br /><ul><li>Accept/follow/affirm
  23. 23. Modify/update
  24. 24. Distinguish
  25. 25. Overrule</li></li></ul><li>E.g., definition of obscenity<br /><ul><li>People v. Alberts (1955)
  26. 26. Roth v. United States (1957) Memoirs v. Massachusetts (1966)
  27. 27. Distinguished 1967 - 1973
  28. 28. Miller v. California (1973)</li></li></ul><li>FINDING CASES<br />
  29. 29. Unlike statutory law recorded in USCS, common law is not “written down” someplace; instead, it is contained in judicial decisions<br />
  30. 30. Judicial decisiondocument that outlines the reasons for a court’s judgment<br />
  31. 31. Judicial decision<br />Usually contains:<br /><ul><li>The identity of the plaintiff and defendant
  32. 32. Summary of the facts of the case
  33. 33. Review of precedents
  34. 34. Reasons for following a particular precedent
  35. 35. A ruling (decision of how to solve the case)</li></li></ul><li>Case reporter<br />Case reporter<br />A collection of judicial decisions of a single court arranged in chronological order<br />
  36. 36. citation<br />Miller v. California, 413 U.S. 15 (1973)<br />Volume # of the case reporter<br /># of starting page<br />Plaintiff (appellant)<br />Defendant<br />Case reporter (abbreviated)<br />Year case decided<br />
  37. 37. Class example<br />United States v. Roth, 237 F. 2d 796 (1956)<br />
  38. 38. Finding cases in Lexis<br />
  39. 39. AMERICAN COURT SYSTEM<br />
  40. 40. U.S. Supreme Court<br />State Supreme Court<br />U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal<br />Federal Regulatory Agencies<br />State Courts of Appeal<br />Questions of fact<br />Questions of fact<br />U.S. District Courts<br />State trial courts<br />
  41. 41. U.S. District Courts<br />Trial courts<br />At least one in each of the 50 states<br />Establish facts<br />
  42. 42. U.S. Courts of Appeal<br />Circuit courts<br />Serves a specific region of the country<br />Establish law<br />
  43. 43. 11 regional circuit courts + Court of Appeals for the D.C. circuit<br />
  44. 44. U.S. Supreme Court<br />Highest court of the land<br />9 judges (“Justices”)<br />Cannot be abolished by Congress<br />
  45. 45.
  46. 46. justices<br /><ul><li>Appointed by the President
  47. 47. Confirmed by the Senate
  48. 48. Life tenure (unpredictable vacancies)</li></li></ul><li>Granting a writ of certiorari<br />At least 4 justices agree to hear an appeal of a lower court ruling when an important question of law has been raised<br />
  49. 49. http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/law/july-dec10/videogames_11-02.html<br />
  50. 50. Vast majority of petitions for certiorari are rejected<br />Between 75 – 85 cases accepted/year<br />
  51. 51. review<br />Common law<br />Stare decisis<br />Actions regarding a precedent<br />Judicial decision<br />Parties to a case<br />Case reporter<br />Function of trial courts<br />Function of appellate courts<br />Supreme Court<br />Writ of certiorari<br />Rule of four<br />

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