Chapter Focus Section 1 Sources of American Law Section 2 Civil Law Section 3 Criminal Law Chapter Assessment Chapter Objectives • Sources of American Law Discuss the major foundations and principles of the American legal system. • Civil Law Explain the various types of civil law and the steps involved in resolving a civil dispute. • Criminal Law Classify types of crimes and outline the steps followed in most criminal cases. Sources of American Law Key Terms law, constitutional law, statute, ordinance, statutory law, administrative law, common law, equity, due process, substantive due process, procedural due process, adversary system, presumed innocence Find Out • What are the four major sources of law in the United States? • How do the key principles of the legal system provide justice for citizens? Sources of American Law Understanding Concepts Civic Participation Why is understanding the law an important civic responsibility? Section Objective Discuss the major foundations and principles of the American legal system. Justice in the United States is said to be blind. Why? Because in the U.S. legal system, the courts view everyone in the same way. Cartoons often show justice as a young, blindfolded woman who holds an equally balanced scale to weigh evidence. I. Early Systems of Law (pages 423–424) A. The Code of Hammurabi is a collection of laws assembled by Hammurabi, king of Babylon from 1792 to 1750 B.C. B. The Ten Commandments are rules found in the Old Testament of the Bible, the source of law for people of several major religions. I. Early Systems of Law (pages 423–424) What was the Code of Hammurabi made up of? The code was made up of 282 legal cases that spelled out relationships among individuals as well as punishments in areas that are now considered property law, family law, civil law, and criminal law. II. Our Legal Heritage (pages 424–426) A. Constitutional Law: 1. is the fundamental source of U.S. law; is the supreme law of the land; applies to everyone. 2. follows from state constitutions (adopted 1776 to 1780); decides the limits of government’s power and the rights of the individual; may deal with either criminal or civil law. II. Our Legal Heritage (pages 424–426) B. Statutory Law: 1. is written by a legislative branch of government; 2. limits people’s behavior but also grants rights and benefits; 3. comprises many federal court decisions and about one-fifth of all Supreme Court cases; 4. is sometimes called Roman law, since like laws of ancient Rome, statutory law is written down so that all may know the law. II. Our Legal Heritage (pages 424–426) C. Administrative Law: 1. spells out the authority and procedures to be followed by federal agencies; 2. sets rules and regulations issued by those agencies. D. The Common Law: 1. is the most important basis of the legal system; is made by judges in the process of settling individual cases; began in England and then spread to the colonies. 2. is the basis for state constitutions and the U.S. Constitution. II. Our Legal Heritage (pages 424–426) Except in Louisiana, where legal procedures are based on the Napoleonic Code, most states still follow common law. Why did common law become a part of the American system of laws? English colonists brought common law with them to America. III. Legal System Principles (pages 427–428) A. Equal justice under the law refers to the goal of the American court system to treat all persons alike and grant them the full protection of the law. B. Due process of law guarantees constitutional rights and requires that persons be informed of pending government legal action and then given the right to respond or be heard. III. Legal System Principles (pages 427–428) C. The adversary system in American courts allows lawyers for opposing sides to present their strongest cases. D. Presumption of innocence means persons accused of crimes are presumed innocent until proven guilty; the burden of proof falls on the prosecution. III. Legal System Principles (pages 427–428) Which of the four principles that underlie the operation of the American legal system do you think is the most important? Answers will vary among equal justice, due process, adversary system, and presumption of innocence. Checking for Understanding 1. Main Idea In a graphic organizer, identify the major sources of American law and the key principles of the American legal system. Sources: United States Constitution, statutory law, administrative law, common law; principles: rule of law, equal justice under the law, due process, adversary system, presumed innocence. Checking for Understanding Match the term with the correct definition. ___ E law ___ D statute ___ F ordinance ___ A equity A. a system of rules by which disputes are resolved on the grounds of fairness B. law made by the judges in the process of individual cases ___ C adversary system C. a judicial system in which opposing lawyers present their strongest cases ___ B common law D. a law written by a legislative branch E. set of rules and standards by which a society governs itself F. a law Checking for Understanding 3. Identify Code of Hammurabi, Justinian Code, precedent, “equal justice under the law.” The Code of Hammurabi was a collection of laws assembled by Hammurabi, king of Babylon. The Justinian Code was the Roman legal code organized by the Roman emperor Justinian. A precedent is a model on which to base later decisions or actions. “Equal justice under the law” refers to the goal of the American court system to treat all persons equally. Critical Thinking 4. Identifying Alternatives Permitting rental agencies to refuse to rent apartments to families with children would violate what kind of due process? As an unreasonable regulation, it would violate substantive due process. Civic Participation Laws affect nearly everything people do. Laws change to meet the needs of the times. Work with a partner to either brainstorm new laws or identify laws that should be repealed. Create and present a skit showing a situation that requires a new law to be established or an existing law to be repealed. Civil Law Key Terms civil law, contract, expressed contract, implied contract, real property, personal property, mortgage, tort, plaintiff, defendant, injunction, complaint, summons, answer, discovery, mediation, affidavit Find Out • What are the various types of civil law that affect people today? • What are the steps in a civil law case? Civil Law Understanding Concepts Political Processes How does the legal system attempt to provide justice for all? Section Objective Explain the various types of civil law and the steps involved in resolving a civil dispute. Justice David J. Brewer once stated, “America is the paradise of lawyers.” There are more lawyers in the United States than in any other country. In 1998, approximately 912,000 lawyers practiced in the United States, mostly in civil law. I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432) A. Civil law, which concerns disputes between two or more individuals or between individuals and government, makes up about 90 percent of the cases heard in state courts. B. Four of the most important types of civil law deal with 1) contracts, 2) property, 3) family relations, and 4) civil wrongs causing physical injury or injury to property (tort). C. Contract law involves a contract, or a set of enforceable voluntary promises. I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432) D. Property law deals with the use and ownership of property. E. Family law deals with relationships among family members—marriage, divorce, and child custody. F. Civil wrongs, or torts, deal with any wrongful act for which the injured party has the right to sue for damages in a civil court. G. Equity law settles disputes on the grounds of fairness. I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432) What is civil law, and what are the four most common kinds of civil law cases? Civil law settles disputes between people. Contract, property, family, and tort cases. II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434) A. In a civil case, called a lawsuit, a plaintiff seeks damages, usually an award of money, from the defendant. B. To begin, the plaintiff usually hires a lawyer, either on a contingency fee, usually one-fifth to one-half of the total award, or for an hourly fee. C. Most lawsuits go to state courts; the plaintiff sets forth the charges against the defendant in a complaint. II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434) D. During discovery, each side prepares for the trial by checking facts and gathering evidence. E. About 90 percent of civil lawsuits are settled before trial, using several settlement techniques. F. If all else fails, the civil lawsuit goes to trial, in which procedures are similar to those in criminal trials; civil lawsuits are tried by a jury or a judge, who decides the verdict. G. When the plaintiff wins, the court awards damages; however, if the defendant refuses to pay, the plaintiff must get a court order to enforce payment. II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434) Some people think that limitations should be placed on damage awards in civil cases. What would be some advantages and disadvantages of doing this? Answers will vary. Students should address the effects of limiting damage awards. III. Small Claims Courts (pages 434–435) A. Most states provide an alternative to lengthy civil trials by setting up small claims courts. B. Small claims courts hear civil cases dealing with collecting small debts, property damage, small business problems, and the like. C. Small claims court cases are usually heard by a judge and involve maximum claims of $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the state; the judge’s decision is legally binding. III. Small Claims Courts (pages 434–435) Why are small claims courts an important part of the civil justice system? These courts provide a quick and simple way to solve minor disputes. Checking for Understanding 1. Main Idea Use a graphic organizer like the one below to show the five steps in a civil lawsuit. 1. hiring a lawyer; 2. complaint; 3. discovery; 4. trial; 5. award Checking for Understanding Match the term with the correct definition. ___ C civil law ___ A contract ___ F expressed contract ___ D implied contract ___ B tort ___ E affidavit A. a set of voluntary promises, enforceable by the law, between two or more parties B. a wrongful act, other than breach of contract, for which an injured party has the right to sue C. relating to disputes among two or more individuals or between individuals and the government D. a contract in which the terms are not specifically stated but can be inferred from the actions of the people involved and the circumstances E. a written statement to prove statements as fact signed by a witness under oath F. a contract in which the terms are specifically stated, usually in writing Checking for Understanding 3. Identify Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that aims to protect people against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, or gender when they try to buy a home or obtain a loan. Checking for Understanding 4. What do four of the most important branches of civil law deal with? Contracts, property, family relations, and torts Checking for Understanding 5. What is the difference between intentional tort and negligence tort? An intentional tort involves a deliberate act that results in harm to a person or property; negligence involves careless or reckless behavior in which a person fails to do something that a reasonable person would have done. Critical Thinking 6. Drawing Conclusions In your opinion should mediation and arbitration be used to settle most civil lawsuits in order to prevent overburdening the court system? Answers will vary. Students may be in general agreement in favoring resolutions without trials but some students may stress that going to trial should remain an option. Political Processes Interview relatives or a neighbor who has been involved in a lawsuit or in small claims court. Find out the nature of the dispute and the way the lawsuit was resolved. Make sure you get the individual’s permission before discussing the case in class. Present a brief documentary of your findings to the class. Criminal Law Key Terms criminal law, criminal justice system, petty offense, misdemeanor, felony, arrest warrant, grand jury, indictment, information, plea bargaining, jury, verdict, hung jury, sentence Find Out • How are the types of crime identified according to severity? • What are the main steps in a criminal case? Criminal Law Understanding Concepts Political Processes How does the criminal justice system attempt to balance the rights of the accused and the rights of society? Section Objective Classify types of crimes and outline the steps followed in criminal cases. During the 1970s and 1980s, serious crimes in the United States, such as murder, arson, and burglary, increased alarmingly, especially in large cities. Many people felt threatened by the growing violence. By the late 1990s, however, the crime rate had decreased dramatically. Tougher law enforcement, more police, neighborhood patrols, and a crackdown on drug dealers helped bring about this remarkable change. I. Types of Crime (pages 437–438) A. Most crimes committed in the United States break state laws; each state has its own penal code, or written laws that spell out crimes and punishments. B. Crimes may be petty offenses, misdemeanors, or felonies. C. Petty offenses are minor, like illegal parking; misdemeanors are more serious crimes like vandalism; felonies are serious criminal acts like murder, robbery, or kidnapping. I. Types of Crime (pages 437–438) I. Types of Crime (pages 437–438) In recent years the number of serious crimes committed in the United States has dropped. Do you think this trend will continue? Explain. Answers will vary. Discuss local efforts to combat serious crime. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) A. The prosecutor, or government lawyer responsible for bringing a criminal charge, must prove beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge or jury that the defendant violated the law. B. Criminal cases begin when police gather enough evidence to convince a judge to issue an arrest warrant. C. The arrested person is taken to a police station, the charges are recorded, and the suspect may be fingerprinted and photographed. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) D. The arrested person is brought before a judge as quickly as possible to be formally charged with a crime; if the case is a misdemeanor, the person may plead guilty or not guilty. E. Cases may then go to a grand jury, which determines whether there is enough evidence to put the accused person on trial, or to a preliminary hearing before a judge for the same purpose. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) F. At this point, about 90 percent of criminal cases end in a guilty plea in which the accused pleads guilty to a lesser crime in return for the government’s not prosecuting the more serious original crime (plea bargaining). G. After a grand jury indictment or a preliminary hearing, a judge reads the formal charge at an arraignment held in an open courtroom; the defendant may plead not guilty, not guilty by reason of insanity, guilty, or no contest. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) H. In felony cases, the defendant may choose between a jury trial and a bench trial heard by a judge. I. Jurors listen as witnesses are called and the evidence is presented. J. In jury trials, the presiding judge instructs the jury on proper legal procedures and explains the law. The jury goes to a jury room to review the evidence and reach a decision. To reach a guilty verdict, the jury must find the evidence convincing beyond a reasonable doubt. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) K. If the jury’s verdict is “not guilty,” the defendant is released immediately. If the jury’s verdict is “guilty,” the judge usually determines the sentence. II. Steps in Criminal Cases (pages 438–443) Some people would like to eliminate the plea bargaining system. Explain why you agree or disagree with this idea. Answers will vary. See text pages 440–441 for discussion of plea bargaining. Checking for Understanding 1. Main Idea Use a Venn diagram like the one here to show the differences and similarities between the steps in criminal and civil lawsuits. Criminal: investigation, arrest, initial appearance, hearing or grand jury, plea bargaining or arraignment and plea, decision, sentencing. Civil: hiring a lawyer, complaint, discovery, award. Both: trial. Checking for Understanding Match the term with the correct definition. ___ A hung jury ___ D verdict ___ E petty offense ___ B indictment ___ F misdemeanor ___ C felony A. a jury that is unable to reach a decision B. a formal charge by a grand jury C. a major crime D. decision E. a minor crime, usually punished by a ticket rather than being arrested F. a minor crime that is usually punished by a fine or jail sentence of less than one year Checking for Understanding 3. Identify Sixth Amendment, Fifth Amendment. The Sixth Amendment guarantees that defendants should not have to wait a long time before their trial starts. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that defendants do not have to testify, and refusal to testify cannot be taken as an admission of guilt. Checking for Understanding 4. Identify three classifications of crimes. The three classifications of crimes are petty offenses, misdemeanors, and felonies, depending on the severity of the crime. Critical Thinking 5. Demonstrating Reasoned Judgment Do you think people charged with violent crimes should be allowed to raise bail? Why? Answers will vary. Students who think that the accused should be allowed to raise bail might suggest that not releasing the accused violates the principle of innocent until proven guilty. Students who think otherwise might suggest that setting the accused free is too risky and that such a person might commit a violent crime again. Political Processes Create a political cartoon that illustrates the way the criminal justice system tries to balance the rights of the accused against the rights of society. Reviewing Key Terms Match the following terms with the descriptions below. A. B. C. D. E. administrative law verdict indictment contract statute F. G. H. I. J. misdemeanor common law tort adversary system injunction ___ F 1. a minor or less serious crime ___ A 2. the procedures of and rules issued by government agencies ___ H 3. any wrongful act, other than breach of contract, for which the injured party has the right to sue for damages in a civil court ___ G 4. law made by judges in resolving individual cases Reviewing Key Terms Match the following terms with the descriptions below. A. B. C. D. E. administrative law verdict indictment contract statute F. G. H. I. J. misdemeanor common law tort adversary system injunction ___ B 5. decision of a jury in a criminal case ___ I 6. a judicial system in which lawyers for the opposing sides present their cases in court ___ E 7. a law written by a legislative branch ___ C 8. a charge by a grand jury that a person committed a particular crime Reviewing Key Terms Match the following terms with the descriptions below. A. B. C. D. E. administrative law verdict indictment contract statute F. G. H. I. J. misdemeanor common law tort adversary system injunction ___ D 9. a set of voluntary promises, enforceable by the law, between parties to do or not to do something ___ J 10. a court order that forbids a defendant to take or continue a certain action Recalling Facts 1. What two early systems of laws have influenced the development of the United States legal system? The Code of Hammurabi and the Ten Commandments influenced the development of the United States legal system. 2. In the United States, what is the standard against which all other laws are judged? The United States Constitution is the standard. Recalling Facts 3. When does a court rule that a law violates substantive due process? A court rules that a law violates substantive due process when the court decides that the law is unreasonable. 4. What two kinds of cases do courts in the American legal system hear? The courts hear civil cases and criminal cases. Recalling Facts 5. Why has plea bargaining become widely used in criminal cases? It has become an efficient way to handle the large volume of criminal cases that courts must process every year. Understanding Concepts 1. Civic Participation How may the principle of “equal justice under law,” applied in federal court cases, benefit minorities, poor people, or young people? “Equal justice under law” means that all people are equal before the court, even if they have little money or little political power. Understanding Concepts 2. Political Processes How does the idea of “guilty beyond a reasonable doubt” protect the rights of defendants? Answers may include the idea that “reasonable doubt” lessens the chances that an innocent person will be found guilty and imprisoned. Critical Thinking 1. Making Comparisons What is the difference between procedural due process and substantive due process? Procedural due process deals with the way in which a law is carried out; substantive due process deals with the content of the law. Critical Thinking 2. Demonstrating Reasoned Judgment Use a graphic organizer like the one below to identify reasons for and against plea bargaining. Answers might include: For: avoids a lengthy and expensive trial; makes sure that a person receives some kind of punishment. Against: a serious crime may get a light sentence; encourages people to give up right to a fair trial. Interpreting Political Cartoons Activity 1. What is occurring in this cartoon? Someone is being sworn in to give testimony at a trial. Interpreting Political Cartoons Activity 2. How do you think the cartoonist feels about the reliability of witnesses’ testimonies during court trials? The cartoonist is suggesting that testimony may not be reliable. Students may note that testimony may be affected by cloudy memories, points of view, feelings, and so on. Interpreting Political Cartoons Activity 3. Do you feel that the current trial system ensures justice? Explain. Students should provide answers based on information from the chapter. Students may also point out how the current trial system may be improved. What is a docket, and how does it relate to court activity? A docket can be either the cases listed on a court’s calendar or the daily summary of the court’s action. Both meanings suggest the importance of scheduling and documentation. 1) Answers will vary. 2) Answers will vary. 3) the rank or status of the victim 1) cases dealing with automobiles 2) real property cases 3) Medical malpractice: answers will vary but could include that a jury may feel sympathy for the plaintiff in malpractice cases. 1) 1980, robbery; 2001, aggravated assault 2) drug abuse, sale, and manufacturing 3) Answers will vary. The Legal System in the News Supplement reading and discussion of Chapter 15 by collecting and studying newspaper or magazine clippings that show the American legal system at work. For example, one day’s newspaper might run a front-page article about a lawsuit being brought by a well-known person or against a well-known business; another day might find letters to the editor praising or protesting a proposed change in a local law; an interview with a criminal attorney might appear in a regional or national magazine; and so on. Select one clipping, summarize its content, and indicate how that content relates to the legal issues discussed in Chapter 15. Lord Coke and Common Law Lord Edward Coke, a lawyer who was a contemporary of Shakespeare, helped establish the tradition of common law. He and his colleagues in Parliament reinterpreted the Magna Carta (signed in 1215) as they opposed the successors to Queen Elizabeth I. Coke spoke and wrote extensively about the Magna Carta, claiming that it embodied “the immemorial common law” of England and implied (even if it did not directly state) support for his views. For generations afterward, “the immemorial common law” was a catchphrase for the custom of English law. Contracts often are classified as unilateral or bilateral. In a unilateral contract, one party agrees to pay (or give other consideration to) the other for meeting the obligations established in the contract. In a bilateral contract, each party promises something to the other. Tort comes from the French word for “wrong” and can be traced further back to the Latin word for “twisted.” A tort is directed against an individual, as opposed to a crime, which is directed against the state. Some offenses, however, can be classified as both torts and crimes. The Jury’s Out Our grand jury system took shape in England in the twelfth century. During the reign of Henry II, villages brought together 12 “good and lawful men” to tell officials which neighbors they suspected had committed crimes. The jurors had to take an oath saying they would not unjustly accuse an enemy or ignore a friend’s crime. They also swore not tell anyone what was said during the assembly. By 1368, the number of jurors in a grand jury grew from 12 to 23. Administrative Authority Many people who think that the federal government exercises too much control over a community or an individual often target administrative agencies as examples. Do some research into the size and power of administrative agencies and the laws to which those agencies are subject. Hold an informal debate on this question: Do current administrative laws allow federal agencies to have too much power over communities and individuals? Small Claims Survey Take a survey (of classmates, neighbors, and so on) to find out the kinds of cases that people might take to a small claims court. (Also ask participants whether the responses come from personal knowledge or from observation—for example, by watching television programs such as The People’s Court.) Based on the responses, how likely are you to take a case to a small claims court? Under Arrest! Arrange to tour a city precinct station or police headquarters, giving special attention to how an arrested person is booked and prepared to be brought before a judge. Share your observations with your class. Law Equity law developed in England when the common law system became so technical that it could not deal with cases that did not meet its rules precisely and when litigants, as a result, appealed to the Crown for help. Although the Court of Chancery offered a wider variety of help, a litigant had to be sure that he or she was bringing a complaint to the right court—the court of law or the court of equity. In the United States, the two kinds of court systems were combined under the Code of Civil Procedure, written by influential New York lawyer David Dudley Field in 1848. England unified its two-court system in the mid-1870s. Mary Ellen Beaver The sugarcane company that Beaver targeted also sued Florida Rural Legal Services to keep Beaver off its property, but Beaver’s employer countersued—and won. A tireless worker, Beaver has traveled thousands of miles each year to help migrant workers. Her supervisor says, “Her energy is enormous. . . . She is working at a very tough job at an age when most people are getting ready to retire.” Beaver’s motivation, however, is simple. “I do it,” she explains, “because I believe defrauding a laborer of wages is a great sin.” Activity: Analyze the impact of Mary Ellen Beaver’s efforts on state policies. More About Choosing a Lawyer In general, a lawyer cannot practice in a state until he or she has been recognized by that state’s body of lawyers—its “bar.” Most states require passing a written bar examination (in most places, the Multistate Bar Examination) and sometimes a written ethics examination (such as the Multistate Professional Responsibility Examination). In most states, before a lawyer takes the bar exam, he or she must have had at least three years of college education and must have graduated from a law school that the American Bar Association has approved. A person seeking the services of a lawyer would probably want to include these standards as they consider the competency of the lawyer. Belva Lockwood (1830–1917) Belva Lockwood (1830–1917) paved the way for female lawyers in the United States. After completing her course of study, Lockwood was able to get her law degree only after presenting her complaint to President Ulysses S. Grant. She then spent several years working for the passage of laws that would require federal courts to accept female lawyers, a victory that was achieved in 1879. Lockwood fought for equal treatment for women, African Americans, and other minorities. She also ran twice for president (in 1884 and 1888) as the candidate of the Equal Rights Party. In 1906 (at the age of 75), Lockwood became the first woman to practice law before the Supreme Court when she argued for and won a lawsuit that Cherokee Native Americans had brought against the federal government. As a result, the Cherokee received a $5 million award for damages resulting from the loss of their land. To navigate within this Presentation Plus! product: Click the Forward button to go to the next slide. Click the Previous button to return to the previous slide. Click the Section Back button return to the beginning of the section you are in. Click the Menu button to return to the Chapter Menu. 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