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Chapter 1. Introduction to the Law. Introduction. Laws Affect us Everyday Stay in school Driver license Curfew Minimum Wage Rent Video / Go to movie theatre. Law - Defined. Enforceable rules that govern how individuals deal with each other and interact with society as a whole.

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Chapter 1

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Chapter 1

Introduction to the Law


  • Laws Affect us Everyday

    • Stay in school

    • Driver license

    • Curfew

    • Minimum Wage

    • Rent Video / Go to movie theatre

Law - Defined

  • Enforceable rules that govern how individuals deal with each other and interact with society as a whole.

    • Must be enforceable to have meaning

      • Police, Court system, lawyers

Stages in the Growth of Law

  • Consider a day care

    • Or the Sopranos

Where did Law come from?

  • Two Great Systems

    • English Common and Roman Civil

  • English Legal System

    • Brought with colonists

    • Known as COMMON LAW

  • One state has a different heritage

    • ???

Common Law

  • Based on standards and customs

  • Judge made

  • Common everywhere in country

    • Previously different regions had own customs

  • Examples

    • Loud music, barking dogs, etc.

      • Judges look up rules to see if previous decisions have been made

Common Law vs. Positive Law

  • Positive Law

    • Set down by a sovereign (central authority)

  • Common Law

    • King’s Bench - Jurisdiction

    • Jury (the people know their customs)

    • Example: Gwen vs. William

  • Advantages?

Courts of Equity

  • Addresses a major problem w/ Courts of Law

    • Do not have to suffer damages

    • Injunction

    • US courts have merged the two

Provides monetary damages when that will repair wrong created by defendant

Everything not covered in C.O.E.


Provides fairness & justice when money will not fix problem

Family Law



Specific performance

No Jury

Courts of Law vs. Courts of Equity

  • Legal Focus Page 16

Other Sources

  • Constitution (Constitutional Law)

    • Written document that spells out powers and limits of government.

    • 51 – 50 state and 1 federal

      • What happens when federal and state constitutions conflict?

Other Sources

  • Statute

    • Law originated by Congress or State Legislative body – signed by governor or president

  • Ordinances

  • Administrative Law

    • Regulations, Rules, Orders and decisions of agencies.

      • Ex: Pollution Control – Leaf Burning, FDA Regs.

  • What’s your verdict pg 12

Continuity and Common Law

  • Continuity is valued in our legal heritage

  • Precedents

    • Establishes Case Law

    • Prior cases with same facts and figures

  • Stare Decisis – “Let it Stand”

    • Important Because:

      • Don’t Start from scratch

      • Biases have less chance to interfere

      • Makes system more efficient

      • More stability


  • Why Overturn?

    • Reasoning No Longer Valid

    • Publicity

      • School Prayer

      • Women in certain occupations

      • Segregation

      • Speed Limit Restrictions

  • Legal Issue Page 7 – Desegregation

Adversary System of Justice

  • Each person takes opposing sides of argument to legal actions and are opponents

    • Each side responsible for bringing facts and laws relating to the case to court.

  • Pros / Cons?

Adversary System of Justice

  • Plaintiff

    • Person who sues

    • Murder or theft – State is Plaintiff

  • Defendant

    • Person against whom action is brought

Adversary System of Justice

  • Judge

    • Referee – makes sure rules and procedures are followed

  • Jury

    • Group of persons chosen to decide outcome – rule on questions of fact

  • Debate

    • How does money impact this system?

Inquisitorial System of Justice

  • Judge takes more active role

    • Makes inquiries of Plaintiff & Defendant

    • Investigates, questions witnesses, and seeks evidence.

    • Used in Germany, Argentina, France, etc.

Types of Laws

  • Criminal vs. Civil

  • State vs. Federal

  • Procedural vs. Substantive

  • Courts of Law vs. Courts of Equity

Wrongs Against Society

Gov’t is plaintiff

Represents public

Fines / Imprisonment

Deals with private Rights and Duties that exist between parties

Injured party is plaintiff

Damages / Specific Performance

Criminal vs. Civil

What’s your verdict pg. 13

State Constitution

Laws passed by state legislature

Regulations created by state agencies


U.S. Constitution

Laws passed by Congress

Treaties, Presidential orders

Regulations created by federal agencies


State vs. Federal

  • Federal Law Trumps State Law

The Uniform Commercial Code - UCC

  • A uniform law enacted in part by all fifty states to create certainty in the area of commercial contracts and to make the law consistent with common business practice.

  • Is this good? Why?

    • Makes doing business easier

    • Uniformity


Legal Rules for processing civil & criminal cases through the court system

Statute of Limitations

Laws that enforce rights and duties


Laws that define duties, establish rights and prohibit wrongs

Murder is illegal

Procedural vs. Substantive

Quick Review

  • How was common law developed?

  • Are judges required to follow the doctrine of stare decisis?

  • Who is considered to be the plaintiff in criminal law cases? Who participates in the legal proceedings to represent the state?

  • Explain: The supreme law of the land is the U.S. Constitution

  • What type of law guides a case through the system?


  • Rule Based

    • In This Case pg 16

  • Consequence Based

    • WYV pg 16

    • Civil Disobedience

Court Decisions

  • Appeals Process

    • Who can appeal?

  • Case title

    • Plaintiff is listed first

    • Appeals may reverse order

  • Opinions

    • Unanimous, Majority, Concurring, Dissenting

Stambovsky vs. Ackley

  • What was the result of the suit?

  • Did the court assert that the house was truly haunted?

  • Why did the court reverse the trial court’s decision?

  • Was the decision fair? Why or Why not?

End of Chapter

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