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Introduction to Law and the Legal System


Title: Introduction to Law and the Legal System Author: kjcopp Last modified by: kjcopp Created Date: 6/21/2010 2:54:13 PM Document presentation format – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Introduction to Law and the Legal System

Introduction to Law and the Legal System
  • What is the Law
  • How are Laws made
  • What roles can you play in influencing lawmakers
  • How is our legal system organized
  • How can you find and get help from a lawyer

Teen Shot in Florida (Last Spring)
  • Zimmerman, 28, claimed Martin attacked him and he
    shot him in self-defense, according to police.
    Martin's family and supporters said the unarmed
    17-year-old was no more threatening than the bag
    of Skittles candy and the iced tea he was
  • The shooting grabbed national headlines and
    renewed the national conversation about race
    relations, gun laws, and even how young men
    dress. It sparked a national furor that reached
    all the way to the White House, prompting
    President Barack Obama to call for national
    soul-searching to discover how something so
    tragic could happen. Trial is pending.

Legal Interpretation
  • Stand Your Ground
  • Allows use of deadly force in the LAWFUL defense
    of oneself, family or other person when there is
    reasonable grounds.
  • To prevent a person from committing a felony or
    injuring someone (imminent danger)
  • ?? Vigilantism ??
  • Self Defense
  • Allows use of deadly force when your life or the
    life of a loved one is in imminent danger

Law vs. Justice
  • Laws are the rules and regulations the government
    enacts to keep order
  • Justice is a quality of being fair, impartial or
  • In our legal system, we deal with BOTH.

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?
  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 governments behalf?
  3. If Dudley and Stephens are convicted, what should
    their punishment be?
  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

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 societys values
  • Influenced by our societys 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

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? Get out a piece of
paper head it properly
  • Why do we have laws?
  • What are 4 areas laws are based on?
  • How can laws conflict?
  • Give an example of a law in todays world they
    YOU think is necessary, unnecessary.

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 UDHR
  • 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
  • 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
  • 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 persons 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 shouldnt. It is morally wrong
  • "The right to swing my fist ends where the other
    man's nose begins." - Oliver Wendell Holmes

The Apathetic Bystanders
  • Catherine Kitty Genovese was attacked and
    stabbed to death in 1964 in a highly populated
    area of Queens, NY. During the ½ hour ordeal, 38
    people heard Kittys screams for help and watched
    from their windows. Twice the killer was scared
    off by the sound of voiced and the realization
    that he was being watched. However, both times,
    when it became obvious that nobody was going to
    call the police, the killer returned to finish
    off his victim. Rather than give any aid to
    Kitty, such as calling the police or an
    ambulance, all 38 bystanders chose to pull their
    shades, draw their blinds, and ignore Kittys
    urgent pleas for help as her life was take by the
    deranged attacker

Quick Review
  • What are Human Rights?
  • What document addresses 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 cant
    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 year
  • A Spanish-speaking student speaks Spanish to
    another student. The principal tells the
    students that only English may be spoken in

Human Rights - USA
  • Assume the following events take place in the US.
    Decide if each is a human rights violation
  • 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 money.
  • 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
  • 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 crime
  • 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 individuals
  • 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 client
  • 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
    Kenjis brothers 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 shop.
  • 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 drivers 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 cars backseat. Matt and Kenji are

Matt and Kenji Questions
  • List all the things you think Matt and Kenji did
  • What laws are involved in this story?
  • 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
  • Judicial Review The power of the courts to rule
    acts of the government unconstitutional
  • Federalism The federal and state governments
    have specific powers reserved to that level of

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
  • Legislature Eimpeach
  • Jconfirms nominations
  • Executive Lveto
  • Jnominates judges
  • Judicial Lcan declare acts
  • Ecan declare acts unconstitutional

Judicial Review
  • The Supreme Court can declare any action of the
    government unconstitutional
  • This protects the citizens 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 DUE PROCESS OF LAW

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
  • 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)
  • Why do we have laws? Explain what you think it
    might be like if we did not have any laws.
  • What are Human Rights and why are they
    important to protect worldwide?
  • Explain the difference between a misdemeanor and
    a felony. How do they decide if a crime is a
    misdemeanor or a felony?
  • 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

Scripted Trial
  • Trial Participant
  • Pre-read your part
  • ACT your part, as best as possible
  • Be ready to vote on guilty or innocence of
  • Jury Member
  • Take notes on what witnesses said
  • Be ready to discuss the guilt or innocence of the