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Module 1

Chapter 1 Questions

Priyal Morjaria

1. How does common law differ from civil statutory law?

The best way to describe common law is the law of the land. Common law is generally thought
of as court enforced rules that everyone is expected to follow. Judge and Jury are integral parts of
common law and rule of law takes precedence. In contrast civil statutory law relies more heavily
on codes and statutes. Judges play a secondary role and past decisions on cases are used mostly
as guidelines instead of the law of the land.
2. What is the value of precedent as a legal concept?
The doctrine of stare decisis or to follow precedent is a core concept of common law.
Precedence is a rule that factors in continuity in the judicial decision making process. Unless a
previous ruling does not apply to a current legal situation or was made with errors court will
comply to stare decisis. Keeping a ruling in compliance to the concept of precedent may also
keep the decision fair.
3. What is the standard or test for overturning legal precedent in American law? Discuss
some of the problems with this standard.
The Judicial system of common law has somewhat of a check and balances system. The U.S
Constitution is on top of that hierarchy. Previous statutes deemed as unconstitutional, maybe
overridden on some occasions. Lower courts are bound to follow precedents made by higher
courts. If a statute is in line with the constitution it can override a judge made decision. The
biggest issue with precedent in the legal system is the changing nature of present times.
Precedents or statutes made in the past may not be fair in a situation today.
7. Briefly describe the main events with the process of going to court.
A legal claim is first made as civil or criminal and a lawyer is typically contacted by a grieved
party. The chosen court needs to have subject matter jurisdiction, a venue or geographic location
of the court has to be chosen and the chosen court has to have personal jurisdiction. Once these
steps are taken the plaintiff and his lawyer can formally start the proceedings. A formal
complaint is filed and submitted to the defendant. Before a trial both parties have the time and
opportunity to find and record evidence or information regarding the case. A deposition without
a trial may occur under certain circumstances. When the case goes to trial it can go before a
judge or jury.
8. What primary legal resources do you need to write a term paper on legal subject matter?
Some primary sources for legal subject matter may come from federal and state court decision
found in case reports. Other sources include legal encyclopedias, Dictionaries, Law reviews nad
horn books or case books.