Laws enforceable rules of conduct in society --laws may be grouped into an organized form called a code

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1 What is Law? Laws enforceable rules of conduct in society --laws may be grouped into an organized form called a code Stages in the Growth of Law Most societies go through 4 distinct stages in forming their legal 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 wrongs. -sovereign begins to prevent wrongs by enforcing laws and matching punishments Common Law vs. Positive Law 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 the English common law and the Roman civil law.

2 Colonists from England brought the common law system to this continent. In England: Barons acted as judges and disputes were settled by local customs. 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). Advantage of English Common Law: It provided uniformity while maintaining an ability to adapt to changes in society. Equity: An Alternative to English Common Law Common law follows precedent (courts used prior cases to decide new cases) Common law courts had to wait until the harm actually occurs. In equity (fairness) court, judge can order an injunction, or an order not to do something. In the US, law and equity courts are merged. Jurisdiction-power to hear cases

3 What are the Main Types of Laws? Civil and Criminal Law o Civil law the group of laws that make up for wrongs against individual persons The police do not take action One person sues another Civil offenses are referred to as torts o 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 and Substantive Law o Procedural Law deals with methods of enforcing legal rights and duties 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 o Substantive Law defines rights and duties It is concerned with all the rules of conduct except in enforcement Defines murder, theft, etc. Business Law o Business law covers rules that apply to business situations and transactions Mainly concerned with civil law, especially 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.

4 Laws in this country are created at three levels federal, state, local. The sources of law include: constitutions, statutes, case law, and administrative regulations. Constitutions: 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 made. You are governed by both the federal and state constitution. The Supreme Court is the final interpreter of the US Constitution. Constitutions allocate power b/w: o the people and the government Bill of Rights o state and federal government regulate interstate/intrastate commerce o among the branches of government executive, judicial, and legislative

5 Statutes (Source of Law) The federal Constitution created the Congress of the United States. State Constitutions created state legislatures. The state and local legislatures are made up of elected representatives. These representatives enact laws called statutes. All states give some legislative (law making) power to local government. These pieces of legislation are known as ordinances. Case Law (Source of Law) The judicial branch of government creates case law. Case law is usually made after a trial has ended and one party has appealed the result to a higher court. When he appellate (review / higher court) publishes its opinion on a case, that opinion becomes law. Future trials must abide by the decision of this case. The effectiveness of case law arises out of the doctrine of stare decisis, which means let the decision stand. Administrative Regulations (Source of Law)

6 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).

7 What Happens When Laws Conflict? Supremacy Rules Federal State Local Constitutions Higher Court s Decision Statutory Law Administrative Regulations Lower Court s Decision

8 Ethics and the Law Ethics is a practice of deciding what is right or wrong in a reasoned, impartial manner. Reasoned referring to a written authority that provides consistency (ex: law, Bible) Impartial idea that the same ethical standards are applied to everyone Business ethics are the ethical principals used in making business decisions Basic forms of Ethical Reasoning Consequences Based Ethical Reasoning Looks for alternative ways to alter the current situation Predicts the consequences that will arise Evaluates the consequences and will choose option that will produce the greatest good Rule-Based Ethical Reasoning The act itself is judged as right or wrong Right or wrong decision is derived from an authority (religious writings) or human reasoning Universalizing is a test that someone would use to picture everyone doing the act and determine if it would ethical Ethics in Our Laws Under US democracy, representatives vote for laws (majority rule consequence based ethics) Laws are judged to be right or good when they affect the most amount of people positively Greatest good for greatest number Scofflaws individuals who do not respect the law Civil disobedience open, peaceful, violation of a law to protest its alleged, or supposed injustice goal is to make law more just

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