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Overview of the U.S. Legal System

By traituer Feb 01, 2013 972 Words
Overview of the U.S Legal System

oStatutory law- written law
You want to know the law, you look it up !!
Written law deciphered by just looking it up !!
oCommon Law
Legislators make the law, judges enforce it.
Case law or precedent
oAdministrative Law (Agency regulations)
Body of law that governs the activities of administrative agencies of government

Note the interaction between law and facts
oLaw=judge ; Facts=jury (most of the time)
oCivil (money) vs. Criminal law (jail time)
People can sue each other for money but can’t put each other in jail, only the state has the right too. •Civil law can include contracts and tort claims

Claims in the U.S Legal System
oService of process (important)
So the defendant knows everything and can respond well
Procedure employed to give legal notice to a person (such as a defendant) of a court or adminstrative body’s excercise of its jurisdiction over that person so as to enable that person to respond to the proceeding before the court. oPreliminary motions

Short concise statements
One side brings evidence, other side brings their evidence and evaluate the evidence o Motions for summary judgment
oSelection of the jury
oOpening statements
oPlaintiff’s case in-chief
oDefendant’s case in-chief
oPlaintiff’s case in rebuttal
oSummations (closing arguments)
oJudge’s charge to the jury-tells jury the law
oJury deliberations-determination of facts and how law applies •Questered- if its a high profile case
Hung jury- jury unable to agree on verdict
oJudgment- loser can ask for jnov, new trail, remittitur (reduction in damages)

Appeals Process

State trial Courts
oState Appellate Courts
State Supreme Court

District Courts & Bankruptcy Courts
oCourts of Appeal
United States Supreme Court

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Similar to litigation but less formal
Can consist of
oArbitration (like a trial without the judge)
oOr Mediation (more caasual means to facilitate settlement) •ADR is often provided for in contracts

Key Considerations in Navigating the U.S Legal System

Where’s the money ?
What’s the role of insurance ?
How comfortable are we with risk ?

Jurisdiction- Where and in what court will a case be heard ?

Applies to both individuals and corporate entities
Depends upon presence and activities
State courts hear most cases
Federal courts require federal question jurisdiction or diversity jurisdiction

Diversity Jurisdiction

oCitizens of different states AND
oMore that $75,000 at issue
You need these requirements to get into Federal Court
oOr violation of federal law

Civil Rights Act of 1964

Prior to 1964- discrimination, especially racial, was rampant •Terms to know
oProtected class
National origin
Note : not gender, age, or seuxual orientation ; not covered by civil rights act of 1964 oCovered establishment
lodging facilities for transients (except bed and breakfasts of 5 or fewer rooms and occupied by the proprietor) •dining facilities
places of entertainment
gasoline stations
Note : don’t worry about interstate commerce requirement oUnitary Rule
Where a covered facility is located within a noncovered business, both the covered and noncovered business are subject to the act oPrivate clubs
Civil Rights Act does not apply to private clubs, but such clubs must bonafide and selective admission requirements oWhat is actionable ?
The civil rights act pertains to dicrimination in places of public accommodation •Individuals are only guaranteed the right to enter a covered facility and receive service. Bad service isn’t covered. oRemedies

The Civil Rights Act provides for injuctive relief and attorney’s fees •Injuctive relief is anything thats not monetary

American with Disabilities Act

An individual with a qualifying disability is entitled to a reasonable accommodation •Can be enforced via private suit or by the Department of Justice (goes after big fish/deep pockets). •Even individuals in protected classes have to follow the rules


Contract formation issues are evaluated in light of the view of a reasonable, objective person •Elements of a contract
oCapacity (of age and sound mind)
oMust be capable of acceptance
o Acceptance which does not match the offer is considered a counteroffer •if you have an acceptance and their is a counteroffer, there is no obligation, no binding contract in place. oConsideration

Can be something tangible
Can also be something intangible that has value
Doing something
Not doing something
The Statute of Frauds
oSome contract must be in writing
oFor our purposes, just watch for contracts :
For the sale of goods over $500
Tangible products
Contracts not capable of being performed within one year •Parole Evidence Rule
oDictates what kind of evidence can be used to help interpret a written contract ois designed to keep out prior oral agreements, but will be allowed where contract is ambiguous •Mistakes and misrepresentations

oAsk what a reasonable/objective person would understand under the circumstances •Unilateral mistake
oNo basis to avoid contract
Mutual mistake
oContract is voidable by either party
Trade usage
otrade usage is a term used in contract law to interpret ambiguous terms according to common business practices the parties should reasonably be able to rely upon. •Breach-failure to perform
oEntitles non-breaching party to compensatory damages (must be foreseeable and reasonably certain- especially difficult in hotel context) •Consequential Damages= lost profits
Duty to mitigate- especially important and promblematic in hotel industry •Punitive damages- are meant to punish where defendant’s conduct has been willful

Week 4

Duty- usually a duty to act reasonably
Breach of duty
Proximate cause
oThere is generally no duty to come to someone’s aid in an emergency •Illinois does not have a Good Samaritan Statute but does apply •

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