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

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

  1. 1. The American legal system An overview
  2. 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. 3. Sources of law• Constitutional law• Statutory law – Congress – State legislatures – Local authorities
  4. 4. Sources of law• Constitutional law• Statutory law• Administrative law – Federal Communications Commission
  5. 5. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society
  6. 6. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)
  7. 7. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity?
  8. 8. Criminal and civil law• Criminal = offense against society• Civil = offense against individual(s)• How would you categorize: – Obscenity? – Copyright infringement?
  9. 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. 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. 11. Types of civil law• Contracts
  12. 12. Types of civil law• Contracts• Torts
  13. 13. Types of civil law• Contracts• Torts – Common media torts: • Libel • Invasion of privacy • Copyright infringement
  14. 14. Court systemsU.S. Supreme State Supreme Court CourtsU.S. Appeals State Appeals Courts Courts U.S. District State District Courts Courts
  15. 15. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution
  16. 16. U.S. Supreme Court• Final word on U.S. Constitution• Takes cases through a writ of certiorari — “granting cert”
  17. 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. 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. 19. U.S. Supreme Court (2006)
  20. 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. 21. Jurisdiction• Geographic – Libel cases usually handled at state level – What if the parties are in different states?
  22. 22. Jurisdiction• Geographic• Subject matter – Copyright always handled at federal level – Obscenity can be handled at state or federal level
  23. 23. Jurisdiction• Geographic• Subject matter• Internet – Cybersell of Florida and Arizona – Yahoo! and French law – “Libel tourism”
  24. 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. 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. 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

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