LEGAL SYSTEMS CRJ-103-51 – Research Paper Example

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Answer 1:
The Appellate Division of the Superior Court is New Jerseys intermediate Appellate Court. It is comprised of 35 judges who sit in two and three judge panels chosen from parts consisting of four or five judges. Appellate Division judges hear appeals from decisions of the Trial Courts, the Tax Court and State administrative agencies. The Appellate Court takes an action in a case after obtaining jurisdiction. It has established programs to dispose certain types of appeals. Civil Appeals Settlement Program (CASP) is designed to identify, at the initial phase of processing, those appeals which could possibly be settled. Alternatively, appeals with very complex issues may be selected for a pre-argument conference, in order to delineate and clarify those issues prior to briefing. Sentencing Calendars were initially designed to dispose of those appeals in which the sole issue on appeal was the excessiveness of the sentence imposed. The program has been expanded to include additional sentencing issues. Because of the narrow issues being addressed, appeals considered in this program are argued without the need for full briefing.
The party who wants to appeal must file a notice of appeal or a motion for leave to appeal within the specified time limit and according to the instructions given in the Rules Governing the Courts of the State of New Jersey. He may also make a motion for assignment of counsel. Court Rule 1:21-1(c) provides that a business entity, other than a sole proprietor, cannot file any papers in the Appellate Division except through an attorney authorized to practice in New Jersey. If all issues as to all parties are not decided in the case and he wishes to proceed with an appeal, he must request permission from the Appellate Division by way of a motion. This type of case is brought before the Appellate Division by filing a motion for leave to appeal and appropriate accompanying documents.1
The court can enter three types of opinions.
i. Uphold: The court may uphold the judgment of the trial court i.e. no changes in trial court’s decision.
ii. Overturn: The court may overturn the trial court’s judgment and give a new conclusion.
iii. Decline to hear: When the court declines to hear a case, it indirectly upholds the trial court’s decision.
Answer 2:
In a civil case, the burden of proof is on the plaintiff. A civil case only has to be proved on the balance of probabilities, i.e. it is likely that the defendant is guilty. The burden of proof in a civil case is lower than that of a criminal case.
On the other hand, the burden of proof in a criminal case is on the prosecutor and the case needs to be proven ‘beyond a reasonable doubt’. It is based on the presumption of innocence which means innocent until proven guilty. Therefore, the burden of proof in a criminal case is higher than in a civil case.
Answer 3:
a. Original Jurisdiction.
The authority of a tribunal to entertain a lawsuit, try it, and set forth a judgment on the law and facts.2 For example, when two or more states are locked in a dispute, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to gather and hear evidence much like a trial court. The Court appoints a Special Master to hear the evidence and prepare factual findings. It then hears oral arguments and issues a decision as it does in appellate jurisdiction cases. Because it is the highest court in the United States, the Supreme Courts decision in original jurisdiction cases is final, with no right of appeal.
b. Subject Matter Jurisdiction.
The power of a court to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong.3 In state court systems, statutes that create different courts generally set boundaries on their subject matter jurisdiction. For instance, a person accused of murder cannot be charged in a criminal court authorized to hear only misdemeanor cases. Child custody cases could only be heard in courts having authority in guardianship matters.
c. Original and Limited Jurisdiction.
See Answer 3(a) for Original jurisdiction.
Limited Jurisdiction, or special Jurisdiction, is the court’s jurisdiction only on certain types of cases such as bankruptcy, family matters, etc.4 Unlike original jurisdiction, a court having limited jurisdiction is limited to hear only certain types of cases which it is authorized to hear. For example, traffic violations are generally heard by limited jurisdiction courts.
d. Personal Jurisdiction.
Personal jurisdiction refers to a courts power over a particular defendant (in personam jurisdiction) or an item of property (in rem or in limited cases, quasi in rem jurisdiction).5 For a court to have personal jurisdiction over a defendant, the defendant must have been personally served (or have accepted service of the court papers) and the defendant must have at least some contacts with the state in which the court is located. For example, A and B are married. B moves to Arizona, establishes residence and sues for divorce. If A has no contacts with Arizona, the court has no personal jurisdiction over A.
e. In rem jurisdiction.
In rem jurisdiction is the power a court may exercise over property (either real or personal) or a status against a person over whom the court does not have personal jurisdiction.6 For example, a court which grants a divorce exercises in rem jurisdiction over the marriage. One spouse must live in the same county as the court (therefore the marriage is in the county) for the court to exercise in rem jurisdiction over the marriage.
Answer 4:
Stare decisis is the obligation of a court to adhere to past opinions7--to be indispensible to the rule of law8. This constraint helps the courts to treat like cases alike. The courts are bound to decide the cases in accordance with precedents unless there are some new factors which are so substantial that a case needs to be decided otherwise. When this happens, a new precedent is formed and becomes a part of common law. The main purposes of stare decisis are:
i. General fairness.
Stare decisis ensures general fairness and legitimacy by putting predictability-enhancing constraint on judges. Formation of new precedents is synonymous to the formation of new laws. People feel more protected and are able to get estimates of what they would lose or get after a lawsuit. It enhances the fairness of courts. As all the like cases are treated alike, parties have a belief that their case would be dealt fairly.
ii. Legitimacy.
The legitimacy of a court that follows the principle of stare decisis can never be brought into question. Stare decisis binds a judge to make decisions in accordance with the precedents. When a court sticks to stare decisis, its perceived legitimacy is enhanced. Whenever, a court disregards a precedent, it is asked to give an explanation with sufficient reasons. Stare decisis ensures that the decisions are made lawfully and without any bias.
iii. Efficiency.
As the precedents are constraining, the judges can benefit from the labor of past judges. History repeats itself many times. If precedents were not binding on the judges, it would have taken a lot of time for the judges to do the research and analysis and then reach a decision. Precedents are a solid foundation on which judges can base their decisions and work efficiently.
Answer 5.9
Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases that arise under:
i. The U.S. Constitution;
ii. The laws of the United States; and
iii. The treaties made under the authority of the United States.
Federal courts have shared jurisdiction with the state courts in the following areas:
i. Diversity of Citizenship
In civil cases involving citizens of two or more states in which the dollar amount in question exceeds $75,000, a state court may hear the case if the defendant in the case does not petition to have the case removed to federal court. Furthermore, if a civil case involves two or more citizens of different states but the amount in question does not exceed $75,000, the case must be heard by a state court.
ii. Federal Question
Any state court may interpret the U.S. Constitution, federal statute, treaty, etc., if the applicable Constitutional provision, statute, or treaty has direct bearing on a case brought in state court under a state law. However, by interpreting the U.S. Constitution, federal statute, or treaty, the state is subjecting itself to federal review. This means that after a state supreme court has acted on a case, the U.S. Supreme Court may review it. In such instances, the U.S. Supreme Court is concerned only with reviewing the state courts interpretation of the applicable federal Constitutional provision, statute, or treaty. It does not review any matters of law that are under the exclusive jurisdiction of the state courts.
Federal courts have no jurisdiction in the following areas:
i. All matters and relations coming the state laws; and
ii. Cases in which subject matter jurisdiction is not granted to a federal court by the Congress.
Answer 6.
Common law is a law developed by judges through decisions of courts and similar tribunals rather than through legislative or executive branch action. A common law system is a legal system that gives great precedential weight to common law, on the principle that it is unfair to treat similar facts differently on different occasions.10 The body of precedent is called common law and it binds future decisions. The decisions of a court are binding only in a particular jurisdiction, and even within a given jurisdiction, some courts have more power than others. For example, in most jurisdictions, decisions by appellate courts are binding on lower courts in the same jurisdiction and on future decisions of the same appellate court, but decisions of lower courts are only non-binding persuasive authority. The principle of stare decisis lies at the heart of all common law systems.
Civil law is a legal system inspired by Roman law, the primary feature of which is that laws are written into a collection, codified, and not (as in common law) determined by judges.11 Conceptually, it is the group of legal ideas and systems ultimately derived from the Code of Justinian, but heavily overlaid by Germanic, ecclesiastical, feudal, and local practices,12 as well as doctrinal strains such as natural law, codification, and legislative positivism. Materially, civil law proceeds from abstractions, formulates general principles, and distinguishes substantive rules from procedural rules.13 It holds legislation as the primary source of law, and the court system is usually inquisitorial, unbound by precedent, and composed of specially trained judicial officers with a limited ability to interpret law.
The sources of law of American Legal System are: 14
Constitutional law: It is based on a formal document that defines broad powers. Federal Constitutional law originates from the U.S. constitution. State constitutional law originates from the individual state constitutions.
Statutory law: Legislation passed on the federal, state, or local levels.
Administrative regulations: Made by administrative agencies that define the intent of the legislative body that passed the law. And
The Common law: As described above.
These sources have both vertical and horizontal dimensions in the American Legal system. Vertical dimensions include federal authority, state authority and concurrent authority. Federal authority covers laws related to patents, pensions, profit sharing, and labor issues. State authority covers business associations, contracts and trade secrets. Concurrent authority covers security law, tax law, and employment law. The horizontal dimension is related to the separation of power among the executive branch, which creates administrative law; the legislative branch, which creates statutes; and the judicial branch, which creates common law. The judicial system in U.S. has two pyramid structures—one for state courts and one for federal courts. Both structures consist of fewer high level courts and more of lower level courts.15
Common law systems place great weight on court decisions, which are considered law with the same force of law as statutes. By contrast, in civil law jurisdictions, judicial precedent is given less weight and scholarly literature is given more.16 American legal system is made up of four sources of law mentioned above and common law is one of them.
Endnotes
1. Information obtained from judiciary.state.nj.us. The official site of New Jersey Judiciary.
2. Definition given in Wests Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.
3. Definition given in Wests Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc.
4. As defined by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill.
5. Information obtained from Wikipedia and Lectric Law Librarys Lexicon.
6. Information obtained from Wikipedia and Lectric Law Librarys Lexicon.
7. Stare decisis literally means “[t]o stand by things decided, and not to disturb settled points.” Black’s Law Dictionary 1443 (8th ed. 2004).
8. Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 854 (1992).
9. Information obtained from website of United State Courts.
10. Charles Arnold-Baker, The Companion to British History, s.v. "English Law" (London: Routledge, 2001), 386.
11. "Legal Terms", Armstrong Lawyers, retrieved on 11 June 2009.
12. Charles Arnold Baker, The Companion to British History, s.v. "Civilian" (London: Routledge, 2001), 308.
13. Michel Fromont, Grands systèmes de droit étrangers, 4th edn. (Paris: Dalloz, 2001), 8.
14. Information obtained from quickMBA.
15. Information obtained from quickMBA.
16. Information obtained from Wikipedia.
Works Cited
1. Information obtained from the official site of New Jersey Judiciary.

2. Definition given in Wests Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. Retrieved from The free dictionary by Farlex
< http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Original+Jurisdiction>
3. Definition given in Wests Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. Retrieved from The free dictionary by Farlex

4. Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. Retrieved from The free dictionary by Farlex

5. Information obtained from Wikipedia and Lectric Law Librarys Lexicon
6. Information obtained from Wikipedia and Lectric Law Librarys Lexicon
7. Stare decisis. Black’s Law Dictionary 1443 (8th ed. 2004).
8. Planned Parenthood of Se. Pa. v. Casey, 505 U.S. 833, 854 (1992).
9. Information obtained from website of United State Courts.

10. Charles Arnold-Baker, The Companion to British History, s.v. "English Law" (London: Routledge, 2001), 386.
11. "Legal Terms", Armstrong Lawyers, retrieved on 11 June 2009.
12. Charles Arnold Baker, The Companion to British History, s.v. "Civilian" (London: Routledge, 2001), 308.
13. Michel Fromont, Grands systèmes de droit étrangers, 4th edn. (Paris: Dalloz, 2001), 8.
14. Information obtained from quickMBA.
15. Information obtained from quickMBA.
16. Information obtained from Wikipedia.