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MCLawCh1notes[1][1]-1 - Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter to...

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Unformatted text preview: Chapter 1: Introduction Chapter to the Legal System to Laws – Principles that structure the Laws – Principles that structure the relationships between government and the governed, and among the people within a society 3 Types of Governments Types Unitary Sovereign (person or body) is all powerful Confederal Central power Central unit but with limited power Loose association of sovereign states, joined together for specific purposes Federal Combination of two Two­way flow of power from and to the centralized government Written constitution allows central government certain powers Power The ability to cause others to do something Authority The ability to compel obedience because of legitimate position given by power holders Sovereignty Source of power in government 3 in the U.S. system Federal States People In U.S., ultimate power rests with the people, but government has legitimate authority Government Government The U.S. Constitution The Preamble: See p. 3 in your text Six specific purposes given to the federal government by the people Articles I­III: Created 3 branches of government I – created the Legislative branch (Congress) II– created the Executive branch (President) III – created the Judicial branch (Court system) Supremacy Clause Sets out the hierarchy of laws Federal then state; if conflict, then federal rules 2 types important to know what system operates where you do business – see reference to Louisiana and Napoleonic Code reliance in text Code Law (history, see p. 4 in text) Legal Systems Legal Statements of religious dogma or compilations of written laws (legislative) Common Law Evolution over time of legal rules, customs, maxims created by the judiciary Evolves and changes over time Concepts of precedent and stare decisis apply Legal Systems Legal Common Law: Precedent Cases with similar facts should have similar results Stare Decisis Those past results will guide future decisions Sources of Law In the U.S. Sources Essentially 4 sources of law in the U.S. Constitutional law is very hard to change Federal & State constitutions Federal & State statutes U.S. (federal) treaties Case law Amendments must be supported by 2/3 majority of both houses of Congress Case law quite easy to change Most complex system of laws and most at issue with mass comm professions Statutory Interpretation While legislators are charged with enacting laws, the statutes are usually quite broad, thus requiring interpretation as to any real set of facts This interpretation is usually a court’s responsibility Judicial Review (1803) When a court evaluates whether a statute is consistent with the Constitution Statutes are laws enacted by legislatures and endorsed by the appropriate chief executive (President, Governor) Cannot conflict with the U.S. Constitution nor with the appropriate state constitution Other Legal Systems Other Equity, Rules, Regulations, Codes & Ordinances are not law, but they do impact enforcement of law and have the authority of government Equity is a system of remedies Allows significant judicial discretion Arose out of English system where cases were heard in different courts called Courts of Chancery (King’s Chancellor presided) Granted non­money remedies to get to “justice” Other Legal Systems Other Equity (cont’d) In the U.S., there used to be different Courts of Equity, but now all courts allowed to entertain equitable remedies as applicable Examples (see Ex. 1.1 on p. 8 in text) of equitable remedies are: Temporary restraining orders Injunctions Writs (habeas corpus, mandamus) Orders of protection Specific performance Other Legal Systems Other Rules, etc. Often have the effect of law, but are not Statutes give authority to a specific agency to create and enforce rules and regulations that carry forth the public policy enunciated by the statute Often referred to as Administrative Law (but not law in the true sense of the word) Ordinances Directives of local governments Local governments only granted power and authority specifically by state laws and constitutions Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts 3­tiered, consolidated court system Level 1 – federal district courts (94 of them) Identified by where they are located See p. 9 in text Level 2 – U.S. Courts of Appeal 13 circuits, one court in each Level 3 – U.S. Supreme Court Final appellate jurisdiction Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts (cont’d) Other federal courts: Bankruptcy U.S. Court of Federal Claims U.S. Magistrates Court Presided over by magistrates to lessen the load on the federal court system See p. 11 in text for info about others: Tax court Military courts Court of Veteran’s Affairs Really administrative remedies here, presided over by an Administrative Law Judge, and appeals are heard by the federal courts Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts State Courts 3 types, based essentially on judicial coordination: Fragmented Consolidated Unified Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts State Courts Fragmented (Multiple levels within each tier possible) Minor courts County courts (next level up) Similarly limited jurisdiction, but can often hear appeals de novo (with no written record) State District or Circuit courts (next, upper level of lowest tier) Hear civil and criminal cases Usually free to rule with unlimited penalties municipal courts, small claims Limited jurisdiction Magistrates sometimes have no formal legal training Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts State Courts Fragmented (cont’d) Next comes an intermediate appellate tier Sometimes with multiple layers within as well Then some sort of State Supreme Court at top Sometimes this court is bifurcated (split in two) to hear civil and criminal cases (see Texas example in handout) Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts State Courts Consolidated (3­tiered like federal system) Courts of original jurisdiction (circuit courts) Courts of intermediate jurisdiction (courts of appeals) Some sort of State Supreme Court Types of Courts Types In U.S., there are 2 independent court systems: Federal Courts State Courts Unified When appellate courts at all levels attempt to “speak with one voice” creating precedential value at appellate level When several appellate courts seem to disagree, the next similar case to come up will be heard by the state supreme court which will then hand down a decision which becomes the “law of the land” In a non­unified system (see Illinois example in text, p. 14­15) the intermediate courts of appeal treat opinions by each of the others as persuasive, but not mandatory Venue Jurisdiction Jurisdiction A specific place, court or judge Governs where a case will be held or which court will hear it Parties or facts of case govern Either party may ask for a change of venue Jurisdiction The scope of power granted to a court or other governmental entity (power or authority to decide a case) 3 types: subject matter, geographic, personal Courts must have jurisdiction over all three to hear a case Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Subject Matter Jurisdiction 2 types: General (any type, civil or criminal) Special/limited (only that created by constitution or law) Bankruptcy Tax Geographic Jurisdiction Based on where the parties reside and where the legal dispute took place Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Personal Jurisdiction Parties must have some legal connection to the geographic territory served by the specific court set to hear the case Act committed there Agreement to jurisdiction by contract Then, notice must be given to the parties of the case to be held there Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Federal Court Jurisdiction 3 types: Subject Matter Federal Party Case deals with the U.S. Constitution, a U.S. treaty or a federal statute Case involves a federal government as a party Diversity (of citizenship) Parties must be from 2 or more states and/or countries And, the amount in controversy must exceed $75,000 Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Original Jurisdiction Court’s authority to accept initial pleadings Trial courts Lengthy written records Decisions not generally published Discretionary Appellate Jurisdiction Begun with a writ of certiorari Appellate courts have panels of judges (3, 5, 7, or 9 judges) Decisions en banc require all judges Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Appellate Jurisdiction Appellate courts’ authority to review decisions of the trial courts Appellate courts charged with: Correcting errors in lower courts’ decisions Making laws clearer Decisions almost always collected and published for precedential value Can be either mandatory (appellate court must hear the case) or discretionary (appellate court may choose to hear case) Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Concurrent Jurisdiction Where both federal and state governments may exercise simultaneous power Criminal laws Indecency laws Federal Law Where powers have been specifically vested in Congress by the U.S. Constitution, or specifically prohibited to the state Here the federal government has exclusive jurisdiction and federal law supersedes any state law Examples: international trade, treaties, money supply, wars, etc. (see p. 19 in text) Jurisdiction Jurisdiction Police Powers The power and authority retained by the states as sovereigns Education Public health Public safety Welfare Legal Hierarchy & Authorities Legal See Judicial Hierarchy info on top of p. 20 in text Legal Authority Mandatory Authority A case being cited is dispositive on an issue before a lower court Lower court has no discretion; it must follow the precedent set by that earlier case being cited Persuasive Authority Decisions on point of law from a court onthe same hierarchical level or another jurisdiction Used only when no higher level court in own jurisdiction has spoken on the issue at hand Legal Hierarchy & Authorities Legal Primary Authority Law being cited comes from one or more of 4 sources of law Constitutions, statutes, treaties, case law Secondary Authority Source being cited has persuasive value only and comes from outside the 4 sources of law Law review articles Legal Results Legal Possible legal decisions by judges Uphold or Affirm Reverse and Remand (back to lower court for reconsideration) Affirm in part and Reverse in part (Modify) Vacate (totally void a decision) Legal Opinions Legal Seriatim Opinions Each Justice wrote own opinion for each case Historically how Supreme Court decisions were reported, until Chief Justice, John Marshall changed that in 1801 Single “Opinion of the Court” Begun by John Marshall Court has more credibility and power as it “speaks with one voice” Minimizes potential for misunderstanding of Court’s decision and reasoning Legal Opinions Legal Different types of Opinions Unanimous Opinion All Justices agree on the result, judgment and reasoning (choice, interpretation and application of law to the issues at hand) Majority Opinion At least 5 of 9 Justices agree on judgment and reasoning One agreeing Justice assigned to write the Opinion of the Court Legal Opinions Legal Different types of Opinions (cont’d) Dissenting Opinion One Justice who disagreed with both the judgment and the reasoning writes this Per Curiam (unsigned) Opinion Decision is so obvious that no signature is necessary as it represents the Court acting as a whole, anonymously, or there is such clear agreement on the decision and the issues are relatively non­controversial so as not to require a signature Legal Opinions Legal Different types of Opinions (cont’d) Plurality Opinion Fewer than a majority of the Justices agree as to reasoning, but at least a majority agree on result/judgment; reflects a disagreement among the Justices, usually as to reasoning Concurring Opinion The Justice who writes this agrees with the judgment, but usually disagrees strongly as to a point of law, the interpretation of the law, or the reasoning of the plurality opinion Rules of Justiciability Rules Rules used to guide the Court to determine whether a case is amenable to judicial decision and if it is in the proper forum. Each imposes some limit on what cases the federal courts can hear. There are 6 major rules: Case and Controversy No case can be based on hypotheticals No “advisory opinions” allowed Mootness Case has already reached a final determination for some other reason Rules of Justiciability Rules Ripeness Issues have not yet come to a legal impasse (no violation of a statute has yet occurred) Standing Any of the named parties has not been harmed or does not have a personal stake in the case’s outcome Rules of Justiciability Rules Political Questions 3 types: Textual commitment Lack of judicial standards Issue has been assigned by law to another branch of government No existing rule to guide the Court’s decision Judicial imprudence A political “hot potato” that the Court would rather avoid at the moment Rules of Justiciability Rules Abstention Doctrine When only a state question is posed and only a state constitution or statute is at issue (and there is no diversity of citizenship), then the Court abstains and the state supreme court ruling stands If the case involved both state and federal questions, the Court may take up the federal question only ...
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