Introduction to Law and the Legal System

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Introduction to Law and the Legal System Powered By Docstoc
					Introduction to Law and the Legal
                *What is the Law
                *How are Laws made
                *What roles can you play in influencing
                *How is our legal system organized
                How can you find and get help from a
What is LAW

   Laws are the rules and regulations made and
    enforced by government that regulate the
    conduct of people within a society
   Every society over existing has recognized
    the need for laws
   Not all laws are fair or even good
   “Rule of Law” means our society respects the
    laws. NO ONE IS ABOVE THE LAW!!!!!!
Law and Values

   Reflect and promote a society’s values
   Influenced by our society’s traditional ideas of right
    and wrong
   Our legal system aims to achieve many goals
    –   Protecting basic human rights
    –   Promote fairness
    –   Help resolve conflict
    –   Promote order and stability
    –   Promote desirable social and economic behavior
    –   Present the will of the majority
    –   Protect the rights of the minority
Shipwrecked Sailors
   Get into groups of 3 or 4
   Read Page 6 (as a group)
   Discuss the questions (a-f)
   Class Discussion will follow
     The Shipwrecked Sailors
                      p. 6      (Problem 1.2 a-f)

1)    Should Dudley and Stephens be tried for murder? Explain
2)    As an attorney for Dudley and Stephens, what arguments would you
      make on their behalf? As an attorney for the government, what
      arguments would you make on the government’s behalf?
3)    If Dudley and Stephens are convicted, what should their punishment
4)    What purpose would by served by convicting Dudley and Stephens?
5)    What is the relationship between law and morality in this case? Was
      it morally wrong for Dudley and Stephens to kill Brooks? Explain
      your answer
6)    Can an act be legal but immoral? Can an act be morally right but
      unlawful? Explain
A Difficult Balance

•   Achieving the goals while minimizing conflict
•   Balancing rights with responsibilities
•   Majority Rules vs. Minority Rights
4 Areas of Law

•   Moral (Murder, Robbery, Assault)
•   Economic (Stealing, Forgery, Identity Theft)
•   Political (Voter Fraud, Treason, Spying)
•   Social Values (Illegal Drugs, Education)

    –   These things can change over time
    –   These things can be situational

   Many laws combine moral, economic,
    political and/or social values
   Many believe laws can solve all problems
   Some laws designed to protect one set of
    values infringe on another
Review – What is Law?

   Why do we have laws?

   What are 4 areas laws are based on?

   How can laws conflict?
Quick Review

   1) Identify a problem for which we need a
    law. Explain your answer

   2) Identify an existing law that is not
    necessary today. Explain your answer

   3) What 4 areas laws are based upon?
Human Rights

   The rights all people have simply because
    they are human beings.
   Both governments and individuals can violate
    human rights
   Human rights apply at home, school, work,
Bill of Rights - US Constitution

   Rights to Free Speech, Press, Religion, Assembly and Petition
   Right to Bear Arms
   Right to NOT Quarter Troops
   Right AGAINST Unreasonable Search and Seizure
   Rights of the Accused Person
   Rights to a Fair Trial
   Right to Civil Suits
   Rights AGAINST Cruel and Unusual Punishment
   Rights Reserved to the People
   Rights Reserved to the States
Universal Declaration of Human Rights

   A statement of basic human rights and standards for
    government that has been agreed to by almost every
    country in the world.
   All people have the right to liberty, education,
    political and religious freedom and economic well-
   UDHR bans torture
   UDHR says that all people have the right to
    participate in their government process
United Nations on UDHR

   The International Covenant on Civil and
    Political Rights
    –   Protects the freedoms of speech, religion, and
    –   Protects the right to participate in government
United Nations on UDHR

   The International Covenant on Economic,
    Social and Cultural Rights
    –   Provides for the right to adequate education, food,
        housing, health car, protection of property and
        employment in sate conditions at an adequate
United Nations on UDHR

   The Convention on the Rights of the Child
    –   Spells out basic human rights to which children
        everywhere are entitled, including the right to
        education and to be free from exploitation
Balancing Rights with Responsibilities

   “With every right comes responsibility”
     –   If you believe in every person’s right to a fair trial, you must be
         willing to serve on a jury

   “Just because you have the right to do
    something does not mean it is right to do it.”
    - You may have the right to say something hateful about someone,
      but you shouldn’t. It is morally wrong

   "The right to swing my fist ends where the
    other man's nose begins." - Oliver Wendell Holmes
Quick Review

   What are “Human Rights?”

   What document address these rights in the US

   What document(s) address these in the world?

   What is meant by “balancing rights with
                 Human Rights - USA
   Assume the following events take place in the US. Decide if each is a human
    rights violation.
             Before class starts, the teacher says, “You can’t pray in school.”
             A child goes to sleep hungry because the parents have no money for food
             A student receives a poor education in her high school and is rejected for every job for which
              she applies
             A man is stopped before boarding a plane and is strip-searched because he has an Arab-
              sounding name and a stamp on his passport indicating that he has been to Iraq in the past
             A Spanish-speaking student speaks Spanish to another student. The principal tells the
              students that only English may be spoken in school.
             A woman is ill and is turned away from a hospital because she does not have health insurance
              or the money to pay her medical bill.
             A homeless man asks for money from people passing by, but people do not give him any
             A Muslim high school girl wears a hijab (head scarf) to school. The teacher tells her to remove
              it during class, as there is a rule against hats or other head coverings in the building
             A family moves to the US from another country where it is part of the culture for the wife to
              stay at home and take care of the household. The husband comes home from work and finds
              that his wife has not done the laundry or cooked dinner. He disciplines her by striking her
              three times, the usual method of discipline in their culture.
Kinds of Laws

   Criminal Laws
    –   regulate public conduct and set out duties owed to society
    –   can only be brought by the government against a person charged with committing a
    –   Penalties include imprisonment, fines, being placed under supervision or other
             Felony – more serious crimes with penalty of one or
              more years in prison
             Misdemeanor – less serious crimes with penalty of less
              than one year
Kinds of Laws

   Civil Laws
    –   Regulate relations between individuals or groups of
    –   Lawsuit can be brought by a person who feels
        wronged/injured by another person
    –   Courts may award the injured person money for the loss,
        order the person who committed the wrong to make amends
        in some other way
    –   Regulate everyday situations like divorce, contracts, real
        estate, insurance, consumer protection, etc
Legal Terminology

   Defendant: the person accused of the crime
   Plaintiff: the person or company that was harmed
   Prosecutor: the government attorney trying to prove the
    defendant guilty
   Defense Attorney: represents the defendant; is charged with
    creating reasonable doubt or getting the best deal for their
   Reasonable Doubt: a level of doubt reasonable to question the
    guilt of the defendant
   Preponderance of Evidence: the jury only needs to believe the
    defendant more that likely did what he/she is accused of
Matt & Kenji

Matt and Kenji decide to skip school. They take Kenji’s brother’s car without
   telling him and drive to a local shopping center. Ignoring the sign “Parking
   for Handicapped Persons Only” they leave the car and enter the electronics
After looking around, they buy an MP3 player. Then they buy some
   sandwiches from a street vendor and walk to a nearby park. While eating,
   they discover that the MP3 player does not work. In their hurry to return it,
   they leave their trash on the park bench.
When Matt and Kenji get back to the shopping center, they notice a large dent
   in one side of their car. The dent appears to be the result of a driver’s
   carelessness in backing out of the next space. They also notice that the car
   has been broken into and that the satellite radio has been removed.
They call the police to report the accident and theft. When the police arrive,
   they seize a small, clear bag containing illegal drugs from behind the car’s
   backseat. Matt and Kenji are arrested.
Matt and Kenji Questions

1)   List all the things you think Matt and Kenji
     did wrong.
2)   What laws are involved in this story?
3)   Which of these are criminal laws?
     Which are civil laws?
Our Constitutional Framework

   Key Principles (methods of limiting the power)
    –   Limited Government:              Specific powers are granted to the government and
        specific powers are prohibited to the government
    –   Separation of Powers:            Three branches of government were created to
        break up the power given to the central government
    –   Checks and Balances:            Each of the three branches have ways to “check” or
        keep an eye on the other branches to make sure they are not abusing their power
    –   Judicial Review:        The power of the courts to rule acts of the government
    –   Federalism:         The federal and state governments have specific powers reserved
        to that level of government
Limited Government

   The writers of the Constitution knew they
    needed more power in the central
    government but were afraid that power would
    be abused. So they imbedded methods to
    limit how the powers were distributed so it
    would be very difficult for that power to be
    used to infringe on the rights of the citizens
Separation of Powers

   3 branches of government
   Each branch had a specific job within the
    function of the government
Checks and Balances

   Each branch has a way to “check” the other
    two branches
    –   Legislature :   E=impeach
                        J=confirms nominations
    –   Executive:      L=veto
                        J=nominates judges
    –   Judicial:       L=can declare acts unconstitutional
                        E=can declare acts unconstitutional
Judicial Review

   The Supreme Court can declare any action
    of the government unconstitutional
   This protects the citizen’s rights

   Separates governmental powers between
    state and federal government
   Article 1, Section 8 lists specific powers the
    federal government/Congress has
   Amendment 10 reserves all other powers to
    the state governments
The Bill of Rights

   The US Constitution limits government by the
    4 methods we have been talking about
   The Bill of Rights establishes the rights of the
    citizens. These rights cannot be taken
    unless the citizen abuses those rights. And
    then only if the government goes through
Quick Review

•   What is the difference between criminal law
    and civil law?
•   What is the difference between a
    misdemeanor and a felony?
•   What do they call the lawyers for each side in
    a trial?
•   What are the 5 ways powers were limited in
    government in the Constitution?
Chapter One
“Need to Knows”

* What is LAW
• Goals of the Legal System
• 4 Areas of Law
• How Laws conflict
• Human Rights
           • UDHR
           • Bill of Rights

•   Criminal/Civil Law (felony/misdemeanor)
•   Key Principles of Limiting Government
Chapter One Essay Questions
        (choose 2 of the following for your test)

1)   Why do we have laws? Explain what you think it might be like
     if we did not have any laws.

2)   What are “Human Rights” and why are they important to
     protect worldwide?

3)   Explain the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony.
     How do they decide if a crime is a misdemeanor or a felony?

4)   Identify 3 things built into our Constitution/government that
     place a limit on governmental power. Explain how these keep
     the people in control of the power in the United States.
Scripted Trial

 Trial   Participant
  –   Pre-read your part
  –   “ACT” your part, as best as possible
  –   Be ready to vote on guilty or innocence of defendant

 Jury    Member
  –   Take notes on what witnesses said
  –   Be ready to discuss the guilt or innocence of the

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