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Chapter 1
Section 1-1
Laws are:
• enforceable rules of
conduct in society
• laws may be grouped
into an organized form
called a code
Most societies go through four distinct stages in
forming their legal systems. These four stages
•1. Individuals
take revenge for wrongs done to them.
• those who are wronged feel that justice can be done only through
personally punishing the wrongdoers.
•2. A powerful leader or other form of central authority
substitutes an award of money or goods for revenge.
• the leader, often called the sovereign, forces the injured party to
accept something in exchange of taking revenge
•3. The leader or authority gives power to a system of courts.
• sovereign has a number of cases so he gives powers to
courts to decide
•4. The leader or central authority acts to prevent and punish
• sovereign begins to prevent wrongs by enforcing laws and
matching punishments
• Laws should be predictable and flexible
• Laws based on the current standards or customs of the people
is called common law.
• Common law is formed from the rules of judges to settle
peoples’ disputes.
• Positive law is law based on a central authority.
• The world’s two great systems of law are
• English common law
• Roman civil law
• Colonists from England brought the common law system to this
In England:
• Barons acted as judges and disputes were settled by local
• In 1150, King Henry gave appointed judges and let them order
wrongdoers to pay with money or goods.
• These judges were known as the King’s Bench.
• Barons heard small cases; King’s court heard major cases.
• Judges hired citizens to help interpret regions customs (jury).
• It provided uniformity while maintaining an ability to
adapt to changes in society.
• A problem with early English common law system was that the
harm had to actually happen in order for there to be something
• For example:
• Suppose two farmers were living next door to each other and a stream
ran through both of their properties. Imagine one of those farmers
decided to build a dam that stopped the stream from getting to the other
farmer’s property, therefore cutting off the main water supply that the
other farmer used to water his crops and feed his animals.
• In English common law, they could not stop the man from building the dam.
They would have to wait until the other farmer suffered from the effects of
the dam before they would do anything.
• They realized that they needed a court to prevent the harm from
happening, if it was foreseeable.
• Equity courts were established to do this.
• In equity (fairness) court, judge can order an injunction, or an
order not to do something.
• In US legal system, common and equity courts are merged.
• US courts can issue injunctions to stop doing things or can deal with a
wrong that has already occurred.
1. Substitutions of damages for revenge is the first stage in the
evolution of law. True or False?
2. The two systems of law in use today are the English common law
and the
American Constitution
French legal code
Roman common law
None of these
3. A remedy of the English Courts of Equity was the
Court order
None of the above
4. Most American law courts can use either damages or injunctions or
both as remedies in civil cases. True or False?
Section 1-2
Laws in this country are
created at all three
levels of government:
The laws we have in this
country all come from
either :
Case law
Administrative regulations
• A constitution is a document that sets forth the framework of a
government and its relationship to the people it governs.
• When constitutions are adopted or amended, constitutional law is
• You are governed by both the federal and state constitution.
• The Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the US Constitution.
• Constitutions assign power b/w:
the people and the government—lists what power the government has and
what power the people have in the Bill of Rights
state and federal government— lists who has what powers between the
states and the federal government
among the branches of government—lists the responsibilities and powers
of each branch of government (executive, judicial, and legislative)
• The federal Constitution created the Congress of the United States
and the Pennsylvania Constitution creates the state legislature.
• Congress and the state legislature are made up of elected
• These representatives pass laws called statutes.
• All states give some legislative (law making) power to local
government (towns, boroughs)
• These pieces of legislation are known as ordinances.
• Requiring Mt. Carmel residents to keep the snow cleared from the sidewalk in
front of their house is an example of a town ordinance.
• Case laws come from the judicial branch of the government.
• Case law is usually made after a trial has ended and one party
did not like the result and has appealed the result to a higher
• When he appellate (review / higher court) makes and publishes
its ruling on that case, that ruling becomes law. Future trials must
abide by the decision of that case.
• The effectiveness of case law arises out of the doctrine of stare
decisis, which means “let the decision stand.”
• Federal, state, and local legislatures all create administrative agencies.
• Administrative agencies are governmental bodies formed to carry out
particular laws.
• An example is Pennsylvania’s Division of Motor Vehicles.
• These agencies are usually controlled by the executive branch (president,
governor, mayor).
• Legislatures give agencies legislative power, which is the power to make
laws, rules, or regulations.
• Legislatures give agencies limited judicial power (holding hearings).
• Civil law—the group of laws that make up for
doing something wrong to another person
• The police do not take action
• One person sues another
• Civil offenses (wrongs) are referred to as torts
• Criminal Law—group of laws that defines and
sets punishments for offenses against society
Police DO get involved
Someone is arrested
Disrupts the environment
Fine, imprisonment, execution
• Procedural Law—deals with methods of
enforcing legal rights and duties
• Procedural law provides the process that a case
will go through (whether it goes to trial or not).
• Laws that specify how and when police can make
arrests and what methods can be used in a trial
• Stare decisis
• Civil procedural and criminal procedural
• Procedural law is exactly what the name implies. It sets out the
procedure for how a criminal case will proceed. Every state has its
own set of procedures which are usually written out in a set of rules
called a code of criminal procedure. The basic rules which most
jurisdictions follow include:
An arrest must be based on probable cause;
A state or federal prosecutor files a charging instrument setting out
what you are accused of doing;
You are arraigned on the charges;
You advise the court whether or not you are seeking court-appointed
A bond amount will be set in your case;
You will be sent notice of a court appearance;
If you cannot reach a plea bargain agreement, then your case is set for
a pre-trial and trial;
If you are convicted at trial, you have the right to appeal.
• Substantive Law—defines rights and duties
• It is concerned with all the rules of conduct except in
• Defines murder, theft, etc.
• Substantive law, on the other hand, deals with the “substance”
of your charges. Every charge is comprised of
elements. Elements are the specific acts needed to complete a
crime. Substantive law requires that the prosecutor prove every
element of a crime in order for someone to be convicted of that
crime. What elements are required will depend on the crime
with which you are charged and the state’s substantive laws. For
example, for a felony driving while intoxicated charge, most
states require prosecutors to prove that:
You were driving or operating a motor vehicle;
On a public roadway;
While you were intoxicated;
And that you have prior convictions for driving while intoxicated.
• Business law—covers rules that apply to
business situations and transactions
• Mainly concerned with civil law (one person
injuring another), especially in contracts
• The Uniform Commercial Code (UCC) is a widely
adopted set of uniform business laws. It covers
sales of goods, banking, leases of goods, etc.
The first 10 amendments to the Constitution are known as _____?
Contract law would be considered civil law. True or False?
Legislative enactments at the local level are called ________.
Stare decisis is the doctrine that requires lower courts to adhere
to existing case law in their decisions. True or False?
5. Torts are private wrongs committed against individuals or
organizations. True or False?
6. Business activities are at times governed by the criminal law. True
or False?
7. Businesses cannot commit torts. True or False?