1. State and Federal Court Diagrams – Attached
2. Jurisdiction – to speak the law; the court in that particular area has the power to
hear the case
a. Original or appellate – Appeals court examines what happened at the trial
court and must decide if the trial court made a correct ruling. Evidence
may or may not be let in.
b. Limited (family court) or general (murder, malpractice, and higher level
c. Personal – over the parties of the court
d. Subject matter – a limitation on the types of cases that a court can hear
3. Sources of Law
a. Common law – a body of general legal principles; usually derived from
decisions made by courts in cases
b. Statutes – Any decision passed by a legislative agency (Congress, State
Legislature, City Council, etc.) of some type becomes statutory law.
4. Arbitration and mediation
a. Arbitration – The settling of a dispute by submitting it to a disinterested
third party (other than a court), who renders a decision that is (usually)
b. Mediation – acts as a communicating agent between the parties and assists
the parties in negotiating a settlement; not legally binding.
5. Source of our law – England
6. Stare decisis – A common law doctrine under which judges are obligated to
follow the precedents established in prior decisions; stand on the decision of
7. Plantiff, Defendant, appellant & Appellee
a. Plantiff – One who initiates a lawsuit
b. Defendant – One against whom a lawsuit is brought; the accused person in
a criminal proceeding
c. Appellant – the party brining the action to court (usually an appellate
d. Appellee – The party responding to an appeal. In certain jurisdictions, it is
the term referring to the party who has won at the trial court level.
8. Venue – a question of “where do we try the case?” in the jurisdiction; location of
9. Writ of certiorari – a common law writ issued by the superior court to one of
inferior jurisdiction demanding the record of a particular case
a. Not mandatory
b. Few Granted
10. Cross and direct examination
a. Cross Examination – an attorney’s opportunity to interrogate a witness
who testified on the opposing party’s behalf. Questions are limited to the
subjects that the direct examination covered.
b. Direct examination – the initial questioning of a witness by the party that
called the witness
11. Torts – a civil wrong not arising from a breach of contract. A breach of legal duty
that proximately causes harm or injury to another. (On the test, questions may be
presented as definitions or a facts scenario)
a. Assault – any word or action intended to make another person fearful of
immediate physical harm; a reasonably believed threat.
b. Battery – The unprivileged, intentional touching of another
c. Libel – wrongfully hurting a persons good reputation in writing
d. Slander – wrongfully hurting a persons good reputation with words
e. False Imprisonment – the intentional confinement or restraint of another
person’s activities without justification.
12. Negligence – The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonable person
would exercise in similar circumstances; carelessness.
13. Contributory or comparative negligence (definitions and examples applying both)
a. Contributory Negligence – prevents a party from recovering for damages
if he or she contributed in any way to the injury. Example:
b. Comparative Negligence – the plaintiff’s and the defendant’s negligence
are computed and the liability for damages are distributed accordingly.
Example: The plaintiff is 80 percent at fault and the defendant is 20
percent at fault, the plaintiff may recover 20 percent of his or her damages.
14. Use of force to protect persons and property
15. Felonies and misdemeanors
a. Felony – a crime that carries the most severe sanctions, usually ranging
from one year in a state or federal prison to the forfeiture of one’s life.
b. Misdemeanor – A lesser crime than a felony, punishable by a fine or
imprisonment for up to one year in other than a state or federal
16. Burden of proof in criminal and civil actions
a. Burden of proof – the obligation of a party to prove his allegations during
a trial. Typically, the plaintiff must prove whatever allegations he
included in his complaint in order to win the case.
17. Criminal and Civil court
a. Criminal Court – calls punishment
b. Civil Court – Repayment of damages
18. Crimes - attached
19. Complaint, Answer, Counterclaim, Reply, and discovery
a. Complaint – the pleading made by the plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on
the part of the defendant; the document that, when filed with the court,
initiates a lawsuit.
b. Answer – Procedurally, a defendant’s response to the plaintiff’s
c. Counterclaim – A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit that in
effect sues the plaintiff.
d. Reply – Procedurally, a plaintiff’s response to the defendant’s answer.
e. Discovery – A phase in the litigation process during which the opposing
parties may obtain information from each other and from third parties
prior to trial.
20. Warranties – attached
21. Disclaimers – attached
22. Federal Court Jurisdiction
a. Federal Question – a question that pertains to the U.S. Constitution, acts of
Congress, or treaties; provides a basis for federal jurisdiction.
b. Diversity of Citizenship – a basis for federal court jurisdiction over a
lawsuit between (1) citizens of different states, (2) a foreign country and
citizens of a state or of different states, or (3) citizens of a state and
citizens or subjects of a foreign country. The amount of controversy must
be more than $75,000 before federal court can take jurisdiction in such