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1-1 Our Laws and Legal System

1-2 Types of Laws

Law –
enforceable rules
of conduct in a Our legal system
society, reflect Laws may be is influenced by
the culture and grouped into an our society’s
Business, Family,
circumstances organized form traditional ideas
Personal injury
that create them called a code of right and
• Reflect and promote
a society’s values
Developed by Will and Ariel Durant - analyzed
nearly every civilization recorded in history

A central
Awards of
authority figure
money or goods Court systems
Individuals take revenge for wrongs done to them intervenes to
are substituted are formed
prevent and
for revenge
punish wrongs

This situation
often leads to one
Laws are issued to
individual seizing
Gang-related Elders or priests punish behaviors
Personal revenge power and
shootings preside over court that injure others
exerting control
in certain ways
to bring peace to
the society
Laws reflect wisdom (or lack thereof) of
their creators

Laws should be predictable and flexible

Best system – one that
Not predictable – will A legal system too rigid will
adapts to the current
produce an unstable society be overthrown
standards of the people
Positive law

laws set down by a central

pronounced by judges who authority to prevent
use it to settle people’s disputes and wrongs from
disputes occurring in the first place
English Common Law
Before developed Disputes settled on
feudal barons acted the basis of local
as judges within customs and
their territories enforced
• 1150, King Henry appointed judges
The King’s • gave these judges the power to order that wrongdoers
pay with money or goods, the parties they injured

Court • jurisdiction created – the power to decide a case

• jury evolved – a panel of citizens


• uniform
• its ability to adapt to changes in society
Advantages • system of the law in the US is based on the English
Common law
English courts carefully followed precedent
(used prior cases as a guide for deciding similar
new cases)

Disadvantages of following precedents

Courts of law were limited to granting
the remedy of money damages wait
Rigid adherence to proper form No jury
until the harm actually occurred
before they could take action
Three levels of

Federal State Local

Constitutions: a document that sets both the framework of a
government and its relationship to the people it governs

constitutional law:
law made when Supreme Court is the
Defines and allocates
constitutions are final interpreter for
You are governed by (distributes) powers
adopted or amended, the Federal
three ways
or when courts Constitution
interpret constitutions

The Constitution of
State Constitution
the United States
Allocation of Power Between
People and Their Governments

Bill of Rights
Allocation of Power Between Federal and
State Governments

Gives the federal government the

power to regulate foreign and
interstate commerce

Interstate: Intrastate: occurs

between 2+ state within 1 state
Allocation of Power Among the Branches
of Government

Executive Legislative Judicial

System of checks
Courts conduct
and balances: no
trials, not
branch too
Statutes laws enacted by legislatures

Federal State Federal and

constitutions constitutions state
created the created the legislatures are Ordinance:
Ordinance legislation enacted at the local level, created by
Congress of state composed of
the US legislature representatives

A town City council County board Commission

Administrative agencies:
governmental bodies created by Legislative
federal, state, and local legislatures powers
to carry out particular laws.

authorized to
Federal Social
County’s create
Security State DMV hearings, fact
zoning administrative
Judicial branch of governments creates case law

Case law:
law law made after a trial has ended and one of the parties has appealed the result to a higher court:

Stare decisis: the legal doctrine that requires lower courts to follow established case law in deciding similar
cases (“to adhere to decided cases”)

Requires lower courts to follow established Case law – carefully established and rarely
Does not bind supreme courts
case law in deciding similar cases. revoked
Constitutions and Validity

Any federal,
Unconstitutional Appropriate
Federal state, or local
a law that is supreme court
constitution is law is not valid if
invalid because determines if a
the supreme law it conflicts with
it conflicts with a law is
of the land the federal
constitution. unconstitutional
Statutes and Validity
Statutes ordinance
must be constitutional Courts determine
to be valid

constitutionality of
particular ordinances exceed the scope of
statutes and
powers delegated

Gasoline for $1 Death Penalty

Administrative Regulations
and Validity

Courts may invalidate a rule or regulation if

it’s outside the scope of powers delegated to
the agency by the legislature that created it
Case Law and Validity

A legislative body has the

People have power to
power to nullify a court’s
amend constitutions if they
interpretation of a statute
disagree with the courts’
or ordinance by abolishing
or rewriting it
Criminal v. Civil Laws
Civil law:
law the
Criminal law:
law law
group of laws that
governing the
redress wrongs Crime:
Crime an offense against society
citizens’ right to
against individual
live in peace

If crime is
It disrupts the
When one person committed and the
stable environment Conviction can be
has a right to sue person responsible
that we all depend fine, imprisonment,
another person can be found, the
upon to make and execution
(tenant v. landlord) government will
civilization work
Procedural v. Substantive Laws

Procedural law:
law laws dealing with methods
of enforcing legal rights and duties

How and when

Methods can be
police can make Stare decisis
used in a trial
laws defining rights and the process for when a civil law has

criminal procedure

civil procedure
Substantive law

duties of conduct except enforcing the law when been violated, only
those involved in someone is charged private offenses
enforcement with a crime
all rules of conduct
except those involved in
•definite offenses
•vehicular homicide
•breach of contract
Business Law
Business law:
law laws that Torts:
Torts private wrongs
apply to business situations against people or
and transactions organizations

E.g.: when manufacturers

make defective products
that injure users
Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) a
widely adopted uniform business law

Aspects of Leases of
sales of
banking goods