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CHAPTER 1

Legal
Foundations

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Law What is It?

Law is a body of rules of action or conduct


prescribed by controlling authority and
having legal binding force.

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Primary Sources of Law

Constitutional law

Statutory law

Common law

Administrative law

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Constitutional Law

The U.S. Constitution is the supreme law


of the land.
Structure for federal and state governments
Enumerated powers
Federalism
Arizona v. United States, 132 S. Ct. 2492
(2012)
Civil rights and procedural protections

Exists at state and federal levels


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Statutory Law

Created by a legislative body

Approved or disapproved by the


executive branch (i.e. governor or
president)

Also known as codes

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Common Law

Made by appellate courts

Based on the fundamentals of


previous cases that had similar facts

Also known as case law

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Stare Decisis

The doctrine of stare decisis, one of the


most important concepts in American law, is
the principle that similar cases with similar
facts and issues should have the same
judicial outcome.

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Case Precedent

Once an appellate court has decided a


particular case, the decision becomes a
case precedent.

Precedent is usually only binding within


the jurisdiction of the court setting the
precedent.

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Administrative Law

Source of law that regulates the exercise


of authority by government agencies

Also known as regulations

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Restatements of the Law

Collections of uniform legal principles in a


specific area of law that are designed to
reduce the complexity of judicial decisions

Common examples of widely used


restatements include torts and contracts

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Criminal Law versus Civil Law

Civil laws are designed to compensate


parties for losses as a result of anothers
conduct.

Criminal laws are a protection of society,


and the violation of criminal laws results in
penalties to the violator such as fines or
imprisonment.

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Substantive Law vs Procedural Law

Substantive laws provide individuals with


rights and create certain duties.

Procedural laws provide a structure and


set out rules for pursuing substantive
rights.

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Law vs Equity

We use the terms law and equity when


describing the appropriate measure of
judicial action intended to compensate an
injured party in a civil lawsuit.

These measures are known as legal or


equitable remedies.

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Types of Remedies

Remedies at law generally take the form of


money damages.

Equitable remedies or relief generally


includes an injunction or restraining order
(a judicial order requiring a party to cease
a certain activity, or perhaps to take a
specific action).

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Important Equitable Maximums

These maxims have been developed by


early American courts.
Equity aids the vigilant
Substance over form
Clean hands doctrine

Broad statements of rules that are based


on notions of fairness and justice in
applying the law.
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