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legal studies 101.
defamation refers to the publication of a false statement about another person that
defames or deduces esteem or respect in the eyes of others.
can be intentional or unintentional.
suggests that person has something does something illegal, dishonest, shameful,
1. The law is full of uncertainty
2. The law is full of rapid change
3. No one can say for sure what the law is until the courts decide
4. Hard cases make bad law
What is the law?
- Imposed by external body
- Control conflict
- Tolerate and respect others
- Sanctions
- State step in
- Permeates all social interaction
Talula does the hula from Hawaii, keenan got lucy and sex fruit
Traditional and complex societies
- Homogeneous
- Norms, folkways customs and traditions
- Socialized (religion, magic,
- Gift giving
- Theft
- Larger, heterogeneous, informal not work
- Need explicit rules
- Established by political body
- Enforced punishment
- Enforced by authorized
- Legitimacy
- Public
Habit of obedience
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Natural law : morality cannot be divorced from the law, criticism (who’s morality to
follow, etc.)
Legal positivism: can you ever tell what is moral? Language is the key.
Judicial realism : judge is the most important person. All just a “smokescreen?” a
drawback is too much emphasis on the judge rather than the case itself.
Legal positivism – can you ever tell what is moral?
Judicial realism – judge is the most important person.
No vehicles in the park.
- H.L.A Hart
- Natural law – absurd (a 3 year old kid should not be charged for bringing a
toy car to the park)
- Positivists – parse language (a vehicle is a vehicle)
- Realist – all about personal standpoint
characteristics of laws in a functioning democratic state
1. Laws have to be general
2. Laws must be promulgated (displayed, public); a secret law = no law. Gazette
explains new laws, modifications of law and when they take effect.
3. Laws should be prospective rather than retroactive
4. Laws should be clear
5. Laws should not be contradictory
6. Should not make impossible demands
7. Laws should be constant and durable
8. Should be able to be enforced
Civil litigation
- Rule of law (Aristotle) – no one is above the law
- Equal justice under the law. (right to a fair hearing, reasonable time)
- Parliamentary supremacy ( Charles I tried to rule alone) -> like cases treated
- Judicial activism
Important legal terms
Precedent – an important decision in a landmark cases which judges use to refer to
Stare decisis “stand by decided matters” , “brooding omnipresence in the sky”
Res judicata – when a matter is adjudicated, the decision is final
Ratio Decidendi - `root of all decision” ; only a nugget from the case is binding
Obiter Dicta- “words in passing” ; all the other crap other than the ratio, could be a
sentence from a 50-page case.
Ultra Vires – beyond the power of the body; beyond the courts power to adjudicate
on matters
Distinguishing the case – analyzing to see if the case brought forth is relevant to the
current case
Advantages of following precedent- changes a precedent very slightly,
Disadvantages of following precedent- slow, tedious process. Could be extremely
complex. inflexible and slow to change.
law reports- judges write down the decisions, perhaps a panel of judges.
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