Chapter4 - Chapter 4-Common Law, Statutory Law and...

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Chapter 4-Common Law, Statutory Law and Administrative Law I. COMMON LAW, JUDGE MADE LAW, STARE DECISIS AND PRECEDENT Common Law Review: From middle ages England comes our present day COMMON LAW. We have common law rules that are in effect and upheld today to trace back to the 1600s. Why are these very old rules of law still in effect today? Because of stare decisis and precedent. The process of relying on previous court decisions is called “ stare decisis ” or “let the decision stand.” It essentially means that once a court decides a particular issue, it will generally apply that same rule of law in future cases. Let’s learn more about Common Law Rules and stare decisis by looking at a common law rule deeply engrained in our legal system. BYSTANDER CASES THE COMMON LAW RULE: BYSTANDERS, THIRD PARTIES, DO NOT HAVE A LEGAL DUTY TO ASSIST SOMEONE IN PERIL UNLESS THE BYSTANDER CREATED THE DANGER. Through stare decisis and precedent, this has remained the COMMON LAW RULE since the beginning of law in this country. It came from England and was upheld without exception for decades. Why do we have this rule? A clue comes from something we talked about last week, that is our fundamental right to privacy. If we had a legal duty to render aid to a person in danger what if…. 1. It’s 2am and you are sound asleep. Suddenly you are awaken by the sound of screams for help and banging on your door. You know someone is in trouble so you run to the door, open it up and in comes your neighbor bleeding profusely. And right behind her is her attacker! 2. You are driving down the street and you witness an accident. You call the police and stop to help. When you get to the scene you discover two women dead in one 1
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of the cars. From that point on, you have devastating night mares, are unable to eat, sleep, go to school, concentrate and you suffer from severe anxiety attacks. 3. You are at work when you witness a co-worker being physically abused by her estranged husband. You call the police and report the incident. Now you have to go to court as a witness against the co-worker’s husband. And, the co-worker forgave her husband and they reconciled. Now she hates you and makes your life miserable at work. You can see how easy it is to imagine long term negative effects that can occur from rendering aid to another person. This is why the law is so resistant to FORCE us to help others in danger. This is why no court wants to change a centuries old rule, but what they have carved out small, but at times profound, exceptions. The one exception that is talked about most often is the Tarasoff v. Regents of the University of California case in 1976.  Case:  Tarasoff v.  Regents of The University of California 1   p. 75 Facts: Prosenjit Poddar killed Tatiana Tarasoff. Tatiana's parents claimed that two months earlier Poddar had confided his intention to kill Tatiana to Dr. Lawrence Moore, a psychologist employed by the University of California at Berkeley. They sued the
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This note was uploaded on 10/23/2010 for the course BUSINESS L Business L taught by Professor Businesslaw during the Fall '10 term at Wake Tech.

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Chapter4 - Chapter 4-Common Law, Statutory Law and...

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