USG Chapter 15

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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.
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