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The Legal Environment What is law? What
• Enforceable rules
– What is meant by enforceable? • Examples
– Notice for quitting a job – Tour de France – Others Sources of Law Sources
• • • • • Constitutions (+Treaties) Statutes Regulations Private law (contracts) Court cases (common law)
– Interpreting the above – In situations where no other source Uniform Laws Uniform
• Why needed
– Constitution – Practical reasons • Examples
– Drinking Age (Reason?) – Contract – Child support – Probate Adminstrative Law Adminstrative
• • • 1790: 3 million people 2009: Over 300 million people Still, one president, one Congress, One Still, Supreme Court Supreme • Consequence: Agencies
– Can perform all 3 functions of govt. Common law Common
• Court decisions • Become precedent for later similar cases Become (stare decisis) • Goal is for the law to be common, or the Goal same, in all courts of the jurisdiction same, • Used where no statute • Used where statute is vague or does not Used address a situation address Questions of Law v. Questions of Fact of
• Questions of Law
– What the law means – How the law applies – Only judges can decide • Questions of Fact
– What happened What – Juries can decide – Judges decide if there is no jury Precedent Example Precedent
• Former Montana speed limit
– “reasonable and prudent” • Get ticket when going 90 mph • What if found guilty? • What if found not guilty? Precedent Application Precedent
• In practice, no cases are identical. • If difference is unimportant, the same If result. result. • If difference is important, possibly a If different result different • Great judge discretion Precendent Precendent
– Similar treatment – Predictability • Cons
– Bad decisions can be repeated – Expense of maintaining records and Expense researching old cases researching Must Judges Follow Precedent? Precedent?
• Generally yes, unless:
– – – Earlier decision was wrong Facts of current situation differ (2 degrees) Times and circumstances have changed
• Summer 2001 NC “one free bite” decision • Judges are reluctant to not follow precedent Brown v. Board of Education Brown
• • • • • • Court said precedent was wrong Prior case: RR Cars Brown: Schools Differences? What could court have done? What did court do? Law v. Equity Courts Law
• Law: Very technical; limited remedies • Equity: Fairness where law courts would Equity: lead to unfair result lead • In US, courts merged, but doctrines In appear in remedies appear • England still more separate Civil Law System v. Common Law System Law
– Fewer written statutes Fewer – Court cases become precedent Court • Civil
– Detailed statutory codes – Court decisions NOT precedent Parties to a lawsuit Parties
– Party who initiates a lawsuit – Wants to change something – In criminal case, usually called the In Prosecution Prosecution • Defendant
– Party against whom suit is brought – Wants to keep the status quo 2 Kinds of cases Kinds
• Criminal Case
– Government v. individual – Based on conduct – A “wrong” against society – Prove beyond a reasonable doubt • Civil case
– Gov’t usually not a party; can be – Based on consequence – Prove w/ preponderance of evidnce What is beyond a reasonable doubt? doubt?
• What percent sure would you need to be What in order to vote “guilty” if you were on a criminal jury? criminal Car Break-in example Car
• In Boulder, your laptop computer is In taken from your car taken • Only evidence is blood left behind by Only thief thief • DNA testing says statistically 99% sure DNA that Billybob did it. that • Would you vote to convict? Not Guilty of a crime, yet liable in civil case? in
– Criminal burden of proof: Beyond a Criminal reasonable doubt reasonable – Civil burden of proof: Preponderance of the Civil evidence (more than 50%) evidence ...
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This note was uploaded on 12/06/2010 for the course BCOR 3000 at Colorado.