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Ch 4: American Legal Systems

About This Chapter

Watch online American legal systems video lessons and learn about federal law, court systems, criminal law, and more. These video lessons are short and engaging and make learning easy!

American Legal Systems - Chapter Summary and Learning Objectives

The American legal system is based on the U.S. Constitution but has evolved into a complex structure at both the federal and state level. In this chapter, our instructor will elucidate the organization of the American legal systems and how different types of law work in various situations. You'll learn how the legal system is organized and be introduced to real court cases as examples of law in action. In these lessons, you'll see the influence of the American legal system, from the hometown courts to the Supreme Court. This chapter can help you understand the following:

  • The structure of the federal and state court systems
  • Jurisdiction in multiple legal arenas
  • Legal proceedings in America
  • The impact of the Constitution and the Supreme Court

VideoObjective
The 3 Branches of Government: Executive, Legislative, Judicial Examine the three branches of the U.S. government and the source of their authority.
The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court Understand the three levels of courts: trial court, appellate court, and supreme court.
The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization Learn about the federal court system and its three main levels: trial court, intermediate appellate courts, and the court of last resort.
Overview of the U.S. Supreme Court Learn about the writ of certiorari and the 9 justices.
State Court System: Structure & Overview Learn about how each state has its own court system with structure similar to the federal court system.
Long Arm Statute: Definition & Example Explore the role of long arm statutes through the example case of International Shoe v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310 (1945); 1945 U.S. Lexis 345).
Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction Understand the terms original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction, reversal, remand, and abuse of discretion.
Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State & Concurrent Learn about subject-matter jurisdiction for federal, state, and concurrent. Learn about the concurrent example case of Caterpillar Inc., v. Lewis. 518 U.S. 1050 [1996]; 1996 U.S. Lexis 4512 OR Gafford V General Electric, 997 F.2d 150 (1993); 1993 U.S. App. Lexis 14766 abrogated by Hertz Corp. V. Friend, 130 S. Ct. 1181: 2010 U.S> Lesix 1897).
Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Lesson Describe the meaning of jurisdiction over property.
What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?Learn about the Supreme Court's limited review and constitutionally granted original jurisdiction.
How Venue is Determined for a Court Case Explore how the venue is determined for a court case.

13 Lessons in Chapter 4: American Legal Systems
Public Law vs. Private Law: Definitions and Differences

1. Public Law vs. Private Law: Definitions and Differences

The simple difference between public and private law is in those that each affects. Public law affects society as a whole, while private law affects individuals, families, businesses and small groups.

Criminal Law vs. Civil Law: Definitions and Differences

2. Criminal Law vs. Civil Law: Definitions and Differences

There are two main classifications of law. Criminal laws regulate crimes, or wrongs committed against the government. Civil laws regulate disputes between private parties. This lesson explains the main differences between criminal and civil law.

Substantive Law vs. Procedural Law: Definitions and Differences

3. Substantive Law vs. Procedural Law: Definitions and Differences

Substantive law and procedural law work together to ensure that in a criminal or civil case, the appropriate laws are applied and the proper procedures are followed to bring a case to trial. In this lesson, we'll discuss the differences between the two and how they relate to the legal system as a whole.

The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

4. The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

There are three separate levels of courts in our legal system, each serving a different function. Trial courts settle disputes as the first court of instance, appellate courts review cases moved up from trial courts and supreme courts hear cases of national importance or those appealed in the court of appeals.

The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

5. The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

The federal court system has three main levels: U.S. District Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Each level of court serves a different legal function for both civil and criminal cases.

Overview of the US Supreme Court

6. Overview of the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court justices reside over cases involving original jurisdiction under certain circumstances and appellate jurisdiction when a decision from a lower court involving constitutional law is at issue. Appellate cases require a writ of certiorari requesting permission to address this court.

State Court System: Structure & Overview

7. State Court System: Structure & Overview

There is no uniform structure to the State Court System. Each state has its own system but most states operate similarly to the Federal Court System in that there are several levels of courts including trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and supreme courts.

Long Arm Statute: Definition & Example

8. Long Arm Statute: Definition & Example

Long arm statute refers to the jurisdiction a court has over out-of-state defendant corporations. International Shoe v. Washington was a landmark case that set precedent for establishing the right for government to use the long arm statute to bring an action against a defendant corporation.

Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

9. Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts exercise two types of jurisdiction over cases: original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction for cases previously heard in a lower court. Judges have the option, when hearing an appeals case, to reverse or remand a decision based on a violation of law like abuse of discretion.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

10. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

One of the ways a court determines whether a case will be heard is based on subject matter jurisdiction. We will explore several factors that determine subject matter jurisdiction in state and federal courts, including concurrent subject matter jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

11. Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

In rem and quasi in rem jurisdiction give a court power over property. The court's power over the property can be used as leverage or as a means of satisfying a civil action against a defendant. The conditions that are required determine the court's ability to exercise both types of jurisdiction of property.

What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

12. What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court exercises a right to preside over specific cases and is considered the court of original jurisdiction based on subject-matter jurisdiction. It is considered an appellate court for cases involving constitutional law under certain circumstances.

How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

13. How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

Venue is the location where a civil or criminal case is decided. The venue is decided similarly in civil and criminal trials. However, the venue is decided differently in state and federal courts.

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