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Sources of Law:
- 1. History - what became commonly accepted as the rules of society (common law)
- 2. Enacted Law - all law adopted by a legislative body or the people.
- 3. Case Law/Common Law - law created by the courts in the absence of enacted law; all law other than enacted law.
The body of law adopted by the people or legislative bodies, including constitutions, statutes, ordinances, and administrative rules and regulations.
- Constitutions--adopted by the people
- Statutes, ordinances--laws passed by legislative bodies.
- Regulations--actions of administrative bodies that have the force of law.
- A governing document adopted by the people.
- Establishes the framework for the operation of the government, defines the powers of the government, and guarantees the fundamental rights of the people.
United States Constitution:
Establishes and defines the powers of the 3 branches of federal government: Executive (President), Legislative (Congress), and Judicial (Courts).
Establishes the broad powers of the federal and state governments and defines the relationship between the federal and state governments.
Defines in broad terms the rights of the members of society.
Defines the powers and limits of the authority of the state government and the fundamental rights of the citizens of the state.
- Laws passed by legislative bodies.
- Declare rights and duties, or command or prohibit certain conduct.
Rules, regulations, orders, and decisions adopted by administrative agencies that have the authority of law.
Case Law/Common Law
- Law created by courts in the absence of enacted law.
- All law other than enacted law.
Role of the Courts:
- To resolve disputes that arise within society.
- A dispute before a court is called a "case".
The written statement by the court expressing how it ruled in a case and the reasons for its ruling.
The court's authority to hear and resolve specific disputes.
- The authority of the court over the parties to resolve a legal dispute involving the parties.
- Jurisdiction of state courts is limited to geographic boundaries of the state or to matters that have some connection with the state.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction:
- The types or kinds of cases the court has the authority to hear and decide.
- Two types of courts in both federal and states court systems:
- 1. Courts of general jurisdiction
- 2. Courts of limited jurisdiction
- When more than one court has authority over the subject matter of a case.
- Plaintiff has ability to choose which court to file case.
Federal Court System:
- Trial Courts
- United States Court of Appeals - (Circuit Courts)
- United States Supreme Court
- The court where the matter is heard and decided.
- Testimony is taken, the evidence is presented, and the decision is reached in the trial court.
Court of Appeals:
- A court that reviews the decision of a trial court or other lower court to determine and correct any error that may have been made.
- Does NOT hear new testimony or reconsider evidence.
United States Supreme Court:
- The final court of appeals in the federal system.
- Highest court in the land.
- If party disagrees with decision of court of appeals, they can petition (writ of certiorari) the Supreme Court to review it.
State Court System:
- Trial Courts
- Court of Appeals
- State Supreme Court
In many states, is the trial court of general jurisdiction.
- An earlier court decision on an issue that applies to govern or guide a subsequent court in its determination of an identical or similar issued based on identical or similar facts.
- A case that is precedent is called "on point."
- Requires a court to follow a previous decision of that court or a higher court when the current decision involves issues and facts similar to those involved in the previous decision.
- The doctrine that provides that precedent should be followed.