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Intro to the American Legal System - Midterm

by: Hannah Rains

Intro to the American Legal System - Midterm POS 3691

Marketplace > University of North Florida > Law > POS 3691 > Intro to the American Legal System Midterm
Hannah Rains

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Study guide and over view for the class Introduction to the American Legal System - Midterm is this Thursday Oct 20.
The American Legal System
Professor Learner
Study Guide
political, Science
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This 3 page Study Guide was uploaded by Hannah Rains on Thursday September 15, 2016. The Study Guide belongs to POS 3691 at University of North Florida taught by Professor Learner in Fall 2016. Since its upload, it has received 3 views. For similar materials see The American Legal System in Law at University of North Florida.


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Date Created: 09/15/16
Introduction to the American Legal System Study Guide Key Terms: The Petitioner - Party bringing their case seeking to overturn the lower court decision Respondent - Party that wants to uphold or affirm the lower court's decision Stare Decisis - How precedent binds courts Common Law - The part of the english law that is derived from custom and judicial precedent rather than statutes Civil Law - The system of law concerned with private relations between members of a community rather than criminal, military, or religious affairs Stare Decisis - How precedent binds courts The policy of courts to abide by or adhere to principles established by decisions in earlier cases. Judicial Restraint - Devotion to Stare Decisis Judicial Activism - The overruling of Stare Decisis Statures - Binding authority within a jurisdiction All statutory requirements must be satisfied Originalist - A person who believes that the meaning of the constitution does not change or evolve over time, but rather that the meaning of the text is both fixed and knowable. They believe that the text should be the sole guide for a judge when applying or interpreting a constitutional provision. Textualist - An originalist who gives primary weight to the text and structure of the constitution. The text means what it would have been understood to mean by an ordinary person at the time it was written. Textualists often are skeptical of the ability of judges to determine collective “intent”. Internationalist - An originalist who gives primary weight to the intentions of framers, members of proposing bodies, and ratifiers (Legal) Pragmatist - A non originalist who gives substantial weight to judicial precedent or the consequences of alternative interpretations, so as to sometimes favor a decision “wrong” on originalist terms because it promotes stability or in some other way promotes the public good Natural Law Theorist - A person who believes that higher moral law ought to trump inconsistent positive law Legally Relevant Facts - The facts needed to turn legal decisions Facts are usually relevant if they are: Applicable to the elements of a rule of law and/or analogous to the essential facts of a case applying a similar or same rule. Also if it is distinguishable from the essential facts of a case applying a similar or same rule. Class Questions: What must you need to do to take a case to court? 1) You need a case or a controversy 2) It has to have already been heard by a lower court and appealed 3) For the judges to actually hear a case, called granting certiorari, 4 of the 9 judges have to agree to hear it. This is called the rule of 4. When interpreting our statute, how do we apply precedent? 1) Look for conflicts or ambiguities - try to resolve them 2) Look for similar facts in past cases 3) Analyze or distinguish past cases from current issues What arguments do the lawyers make? Where do they find the law for their arguments? 1) Statutes 2) Precedents 3) Majority Rules Four Main Sources of Law 1) Constitutions 2) Statues 3) Court Opinions (also called cases) 4) Administrative Regulations What does all of this mean for legal analysis? 1) Authority: If the holding of a particular case is mandatory authority in your jurisdiction, make it applicable (or inapplicable) to your case by stating the facts of your case more broadly (or specifically) 2) Persuasion: If there is no binding (mandatory) authority on your issue then examine persuasive authority What are the essential elements required to make a complaint? 1) Statement showing a subject matter jurisdiction - Federal question jurisdiction - Diversity Jurisdiction 2) Statement of Claims 3) Statement of relief requested - Type of relief sought, including legal and equitable remedies, interests, costs, attorney fees, and any special damages 4) Optional: Jury demanded, if plaintiff wants a jury trial 5) Signature How do facts make it into case law? 1) Clients 2) Witnesses 3) Judicial Notice 4) Past courts decisions on the matter What are some possible problems with facts and fact finding? 1) Faulty memory of the witness 2) Questioning by lawyers doesn’t lead to all of the facts being introduced into the record 3) Jury disregards key facts or incorrectly emphasizes some facts over others 4) Facts omitted from lower court decisions


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