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Unit 1: Intro to Legal Environment and Court SystemsLaw Classification· Federal Law:come from US, same all over the countryVs.· State Law:decides law within their own state border, varies state by state· Common Law:legal ideas or principles that have established in past court decisions, comes from courts, creates precedentsVs.· Statutory law:created by elected representatives or bodies of elected representatives at the national level (congress), or at the state level through the state legislature· Civil Law:private people looking for compensation for losses they have against someone else/some companyVs.· Criminal Law:government goes after someone who has broken a law, private person can’t bring a criminal case, government can impose fines/imprisonment/death penaltyFelony - More serious. Misdemeanors - crimes carrying lesser penalties ex: most traffic offensesLaw and EthicsLaws:comes from government, they try to reflect society’s moral beliefs and if they don’tthey try to change and adapt, sets requirementsEthics:comes from variety of sources like parents/friends/media/religion, sets standards that you ought to meet but are not required toSoldano v. O’Danielso Fight at a bar got out of control, good samaritan left to find a phone, while looking for a phone at bar #2 they wouldn’t let her use their phone, one guy ended up killed, Family sued bar #2Result: The bartender owed a duty to the plaintiff’s decedent to permit the patron from Happy Jack’s to place a call to the police or to place the call himself. Shows the “inherent capacity of the common law for growth and change.” Court system:The Typical State System 1.Courts of Limited Jurisdiction1.Limited as to the kinds of cases they can hearb.General Trial courts/ District Courts/ Common Plea Courts/ Superior Courts/ State Trial Courts 1.Most important cases involving state law2.Empowered to hear all cases (Except those expressly assigned by statuteto the courts of limited jurisdiction)3.Exists in every county of every stateb.Appellate Courts1.If parties to a lawsuit are dissatisfied with how a trial court handled a case, they can take an appeal here.
2.In some states there is only the supreme court, but in more populous states a layer of appellate courts is interposed between the trial courts and the supreme court.3.Decide legal questions, do not hear testimony of witnesses or otherwise entertain new evidence.b.State Supreme CourtsU.S DISTRICT COURTS1.Specialized U.S Courtsa.some federal courts have very specialized subject matter jurisdiction2.Federal District Courts1.most federal cases originate in these courts2.94 judicial districts3.Not really courts of general jurisdiction4.Federal gvt. & have power to hear only cases that have been placed w/in their jurisdiction by the Constitution and federal statutory enactments.