The Roles of the Judge and Jury

Modern society has radically changed the landscape of work and labor. Today, you will find that every individual has clearly defined roles in whatever industry he is part of. This is not any different inside a courtroom. Every person in a courtroom has a clearly defined job to perform, starting from the Marshall to the court reporter.

However, two of the most important roles you find in a courtroom are those of the judge and the jury. In case you’ll one day find yourself in a jury trial, it will be helpful to know the primary roles of both the judge and the jury. Below are some of the most basic and important jobs they perform inside a courtroom.

Roles of the Judge

A judge wears many hats inside a courtroom. Her primary role in the pursuit of justice is to become an impartial and independent decision maker. Arguments are made by both the defendant and the plaintiff sides. Each side presents facts and evidence to the jury, in the hopes of winning the latter over to their side.

It is the judge’s role to oversee all of this without any bias. Secondly, the judge is the ruler of the courtroom. She decides on a lot of matters such as courtroom procedures and legal issues to include ruling objections to evidence. In other words, the judge has the discerning task of either sustaining or overruling an objection to evidence. This means she can declare whether a piece of evidence is permissible in court (or relevant in the case) or not.

Another duty of the judge is to act as guidance to the jury. Before the jury makes the final verdict, the judge instructs them on the rules of law so that they make well-informed decisions that carry out justice.

Roles of the Jury

A jury is brought together for the purpose of determining whether someone is liable or not liable in a case based on the evidence that has been presented in court. The jury is considered as “The Trier of Fact” in legal jargon, which simply means that if they find a defendant liable, they must also determine the amount of damages he must pay. The number of people in a jury varies, but most frequently, you find it to be twelve in criminal cases and less than twelve in civil cases.

There are a number of cases where a jury is not permitted. There are also other instances where both parties waive their trial by jury. A trial where there is no jury for whatever reason is called a bench trial. In a bench trial, the judge plays two roles: the normal role of a judge and the role of a trier of fact. She decides both legal and factual issues.

It may appear more streamlined to waive trial by jury, but it also has its handicaps. The greatest danger is the fact that all decisions rest in the hands of a single person, and this situation can expose the judge to influence and bias. Which kind of trial is the better one? That’s up to you to judge. It is hoped that the information above has helped clarify the basic roles of a judge and the jury in a courtroom.

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The Rights of a Landlord

Leasing properties can be a very profitable form of passive income. However, running a leasing business is not as easy as you think. As a landlord who rents out properties to a number of tenants, you sometimes find renters who take advantage of you. Yes, you are always thankful for good tenants, those who faithfully pay their dues and dutifully maintain the upkeep of their rented space. However, there are a few disagreeable ones that come in the batch. It is essential to know your legal rights as a landlord, so you know how to deal with the not-so-good tenants in your property.

Inform your tenant of your basic contact details

It is imperative that you inform your tenant in writing of your name and address. Alternatively, you can provide your tenant with the name and address of your agent or property manager. This is the most important first step when renting out your property. The contact details you provide will allow your tenant the ease of sending his or her demands and required notices.

Adhere to local housing and business codes

As a landlord of a single detached house or a duplex, you are expected to adhere to all the local housing and business codes. Should there be no building codes, you must ensure that your unit is structurally sound, including plumbing, wiring, and the like. Your property must be in solid, working order.

Provide pest extermination, prevention, and maintenance

For landlords who own apartment complexes, you are required by law to provide sufficient pest extermination, prevention, and maintenance. Additionally, you must make sure that your locks and keys, garbage bins, as well as heating and hot water facilities are in tip-top condition.

Water service, utilities, and garbage removal fees are not to your account.

As a landlord, you do not have to pay for water service, utilities, and garbage removal fees, unless you want to include this in the rental agreement with your tenant.

The legal process of eviction

If you have a disagreeable tenant that you need to evict, you must follow a legal process of eviction. If the issue is about non-payment of rent, a landlord must inform a tenant with a written notice to pay the rent due within three days. If the tenant does not pay after three days, legal action can already be taken. If the problematic issue deals with a matter other than non-payment of rent, the landlord must do the same, sending a written notice with a clear explanation of how the tenant is not meeting expectations. The tenant must be given seven days to correct the issue before any legal action can be taken.

Property condition when the lease ends

The landlord has a legal right to receive his property undamaged at the end of the lease term, except for the normal wear and tear associated with residential living.

Often, the money you earn from leasing a property will not be sufficient to cover expensive lawyer fees for evicting a tenant or collecting unpaid rent. So it’s best that you follow the tips enlisted above, so you know what steps to take before consulting professional help.

 

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Sociology of Law

The sociology of law is a sub-discipline of sociology. Also, it is an interdisciplinary approach with legal studies. It is an empirical study of law that is systematic and based on theories and uses social experience or social practices.

According to legal sociology, law and justice are the basic structure of society that mediates between the normative order of society and culture, between economic and political interests, maintaining and establishing interdependence, and forming themselves as sources of social control, coercion, and consensus.

Sociology of law is intellectually dependent on social sciences, theories and methods of mainstream sociology, and traditions. It mirrors social theories and uses social scientific studies to study legal institutions, law, and legal behavior.

Intellectual Origins of Sociology of Law

Before the end of the last century, jurists and sociologists worked the relationship of law and society. Emile Durkheim and Max Weber explored this relationship through their seminal works. Other scholars like Georges Gurvitch, Eugen Ehrlich, and Leon Petrazycki used the social scientific methods and theories to create sociological theories of law.

The domination of rational-legal form within the society is attributable to abstract norms. Max Weber understood the calculable and coherent law results to a precondition for a modern bureaucratic state and political developments. The formal rationalization of the law is the focus of contemporary law. Weber’s approach to law is to study its empirical characteristics.

Emile Durkheim believed that civil law grows as the community becomes more complicated. Over time, the law transforms from repressive to restitiutive. It is an indicator of integration of society.

Eugen Ehrlich focused on the ways social groups and networks organized social life. He studied the relationship between general social norms and law. On the other hand, Leon Petrazycki differentiated official law and intuitive law. For him, the state supports official law, and legal experiences comprise intuitive law.

Theodore Geiger analyzed the Marxist theory of law and highlighted how it became a factor in transforming democratic societies. He developed anti-metaphysical thinking and practical nihilism. Georges Gurvitch fused simultaneous law manifestation in different levels and forms of social interaction. His purpose is to create a social law concept that is cooperative and integrable.

Modern Sociology of Law

Legal sociology emerged as an academic field of empirical research and learning after World War II. Talcott Parsons wrote about law as an important mechanism of social control. Critical sociologists, on the other hand, developed law as an instrument of power.

But, theorists like Philip Selznick believed that modern law was responsive to the needs of the society. Donald Black, an American sociologist, developed a scientific law theory based on pure sociology. The theory of autopoietic systems of Niklas Luhmann, a German sociologist, presented law as a functioning system of society.

Jurgen Habermas argued that the law can be a system institution through the representation of genuine interests of people. But, Pierre Bourdieu, saw law as a social field of actors struggling for economic, symbolic, and cultural capital. From the 1960s to 1970s, sociology of law developed in European countries.

Recently, various theories in the sociology of law emerged because of the popularity of sociology theories. Michel Foucault, Jurgen Habermas, post-modernism and deconstruction, feminism, behaviorism, and neo-Marxism influenced the sociology of law.

 

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Signs of Workplace Discrimination

As part of the country’s labor force, we all want to work in a fair and supportive environment. Sadly, however, the workplace can sometimes be a place where we find inequity. We find this happening around the world, even in the United States of America. In order to ensure that you get the fairness you deserve in your workplace, it would be good to build your knowledge of U.S. workplace discrimination laws.

What is considered illegal for an employer to do?

U.S. workplace discrimination laws center on the assertion that it is illegal for an employer to discriminate on the basis of sex, race, color, religion, nationality, age, disability, or marital status. This is applied to an employer’s job selection, job hiring, and job firing processes.

 

What government agencies can I report for assistance?

If you have observed your employer to be guilty of workplace discrimination, you must go through a standard process before the case can be brought to court. The first step is to inform your workplace discrimination incident with either or both of these government agencies: Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Florida Commission on Human Resources (FCHR). You are given 300 days and 365 days respectively, to file a complaint with both agencies from the date of discrimination. If both agencies do not resolve the issue, only then can you bring your case to court.

Is harassment considered as discrimination?

Harassment is actually a form of workplace discrimination. It can be sexual in nature or other unwelcome and untoward behavior from a co-worker, supervisor, client, or anyone in the workplace.

What constitutes age discrimination?

Companies are generally not allowed by the law to specify an age preference in their job advertisements. All employees, regardless of their age, must collect the same benefits. Furthermore, it is illegal for a company to choose particular employees for apprenticeship or internship programs solely based on their age. In other words, a 45-year-old should not be disqualified from training programs offered to 25-year-olds. Both are to be treated equally.

What is religious discrimination?

People have different beliefs and religious affiliations. U.S. companies are mandated to accommodate the various religious customs of their employees. They are not to hire or fire based on one’s religious inclination.

What is gender discrimination?

Workplace discrimination happens when companies pay different salaries to men and women who possess the same qualifications, duties, skill level, and job position. They should receive the same amount of compensation as well as benefits as employees of the company.

What is pregnancy-based discrimination?

Companies in the United States are required by law to deal with pregnant women the same way they would manage an employee who has a temporary illness. The pregnant employee should not just be transferred because of her physical condition. This is considered illegal.

Nobody wants to be a victim of workplace discrimination. It you happen to be one, the information listed above should help you expose the unlawful practices of your offender and ensure that justice is served.

 

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The Philosophy of Law

As a branch of jurisprudence and philosophy, philosophy of law aims to find the answer to basic questions about legal systems and law.

Analytic Jurisprudence

The primary objective of analytical jurisprudence is to distinguish law as a set of norms, like ethical norms.

  • The theory of natural law asserts the inherent nature of laws. Its essence can be summed up in the maxim: “a law is not true if it goes against natural law.”
  • Legal positivism defines law as a set of social practices or rules that specifies certain norms. John Austin, an early positivist in the 19th century, said that law is a sovereign command supported by the threat of punishment. On the other hand, contemporary legal positivism believes in a ground norm as the fundamental and ultimate legal norm. But, in the Anglophone world, law is a system of social norms that cannot be set in non-normative social facts.
  • Legal realism is a popular view among American and Scandinavian writers. It is a set of rules determined by actual practices of police stations, law offices, and legal courts.
  • Legal interpretivism believes that law includes the morally best justification for institutional practices and facts.

In previous years, legal positivism has been an important debate. The exclusive legal positivism school of thought holds that the validity of a norm does not rely on its moral correctness. On the other hand, inclusive legal positivism states the legal validity of a norm may depend on some moral considerations.

A few philosophers believed that positivism espoused that law and morality do not relate to each other. However, contemporary positivists reject this view. The legal system cannot have vices.

Interpretivism is also another hot debate in previous years. Legal duties and rights can be best interpreted by political practices in a society. According to Ronald Dworkin, interpretation must be fit the best practices of the community. But, writers doubted the existence of a single justification for complex community practices. Other writers doubted if such interpretation can be part of the law of the society.

Normative Jurisprudence

Aside from analytic jurisprudence, the philosophy of law also has normative theories. Normative jurisprudence includes evaluative, normative, and prescriptive questions about law. Three influential approaches reflect these normative theories.

  • Utilitarianism contends that laws result in the best consequences. This kind of thinking is attributed to Jeremy Bentham. Scholars who work in economics and law champion this utilitarianism approach.
  • Deontology protects individual rights, liberty, and autonomy. Immanuel Kant formulated this approach. Ronald Dworkin championed the contemporary deontological approach.
  • Aretaic moral theories emphasize the character’s role in morality. Virtue jurisprudence holds that laws promote the development of the citizen’s virtuous characters. Aristotle popularized this approach.

Philosophical Approaches to Solve Legal Problems

Law philosophers are anxious about the different philosophical problems in certain legal subjects like tort law, criminal law, and constitutional law. As such, the law philosophy addresses the diverse topics of theories of tort liability, theories of criminal punishment, and theories of contract law, as well as the justification of judicial review.

 

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Law and Economics

Economic analysis of law is the use of micro economic theory in analyzing law. It uses economic concepts to assess the rules that are economically efficient, to analyze the effects of the law, and to predict the promulgation of the legal rules.

Legal scholars and lawyers use “law and economics” to refer to the function of micro economic analysis to law. Due to the overlapping of political and legal systems, common discussions can be noted in political science, constitutional economics, and political economy.

But, issues from critical theory and Marxist perspectives do not count as “law and economics” discussions. For instance, sociology of law and important legal studies movement may consider fundamental issues of “law and economics,” but in a different perspective.

A non-neoclassical approach is the Continental tradition that views the concept as a result of the German historical school of economics and public policy and governance approach.

Origin and History of Economics Analysis in Law

Focusing on mercantilist legislation, Adam Smith deliberated on its economic effects in the 18th century. But, the application of economics in analyzing law that regulates non-market activities is new. Guido Calabresi and Ronald Coase published separate articles that started the modern school of economics and law in 1961.

In 1946, Volker Fund head Harold Luhnow funded Friedrich von Hayek and Aaron Director to set up center for scholars in economics and laws in the US. Historians Philip Mirowski and Robert van Horn, together with Bruce Caldwell, wrote about these developments in their books. Director established the Journal of Law and Economics in 1958 that united the fields of economics and law. He also founded the Committee on a Free Society in 1962.

Henry Manne wanted to create a center for law and economics as early as the 1970s. He made George Manson as the center for the education of judges. John M. Olin Foundation supported Manne and accelerated the movement. Currently, many universities have Olin centers for Law and Economics.

Sub-fields of Economic Analysis of Law

Positive law and economics

Using economic analysis, positive law and economics predict the results of different legal rules. For instance, it predicts the results of strict liability of tort law compared to the results of negligence law. Also, it can explain how the legal rules developed. For example, common law developed because of economic efficiency.

Normative law and economics

Normative law and economics create policy recommendation founded on economic effects of different policies. The significant concept in this sub-field is allocative efficiency. The Pareto efficiency is a common concept, which states that a legal rule cannot be changed to make one person better off without making another individual suffer.

Influence of Law and Economics

Influential in many countries, judicial opinions use the law and economic theories, and economic analysis regularly. This influence affected legal education through the textbooks about law and economics. Various law schools employ faculty members, who have an economics graduate degree. Also, professional economists study and write about the connection between legal doctrines and economics.

 

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History of Law

As a system of rules, the law regulates behavior through governmental or social institutions. It ensures that a community or people follow the will of the state. If enforced by the state, it is created by a collective legislature. The executive branch of government also creates laws through regulations and decrees.

Private citizens also create contracts that bind the parties legally. A constitution can influence the formation of laws. A law shapes the society, history, economics, and politics in different ways. It acts as a mediator between the people.

Civil law jurisdictions consist of a central body or a legislature that consolidates and codifies the laws. On the other hand, common law systems have binding laws through a judge-made precedent. Previously, religious laws played an essential role in ending secular disputes. Actually, even up to now, the Islamic Sharia law is the major legal system in Saudi Arabia and Iran.

Areas of Adjudication of the Law

  • Criminal Law handles conducts harmful to social order. The guilty party may be fined or imprisoned.
  • Civil law deals with the settlement of disputes between entities or individuals.

Legal History

In 3000 BC, ancient Egyptian law included a civil code with twelve books. It represented tradition, social equality, rhetorical speech, and impartiality. In 222nd century BC, Ur-Nammu, a Sumerian ruler, created the first law, consisting of casuistic statements. In 1760 BC, King Hammurabi created the Babylonian law or Codex Hammurabi in stone.

By 1280 BC, the Old Testament became moral imperatives for a society to be good. Athens, in 8th century BC, became the first city to include a wide range of its citizens, except women and the slaves. But, it did not have law back then. Athens relied on custom, human decree, and divine law. The ancient Greek law had primary constitutional innovations that helped develop democracy.

Greek philosophy influenced Roman law heavily, although the detailed rules showed a high level of sophistication because professional jurists developed them. The adaptation of law during the Roman Empire helped people to cope with growing social situations. Under Justinian I and Theodosius II, Roman law went through major codification. During the Dark Ages, custom and case law replaced these codes. In the 11th century, medieval legal scholars rediscovered Roman law when they started their research on Roman codes. They adapted the concepts.

In Medieval England, the royal courts created a body of precedent that evolved into the common law. Merchants were able to trade with universal standards of practice through Law Merchant, which was the forerunner of the modern commercial law. Law Merchant emphasized the alien ability of property and the freedom to contract. In the 18th and 19th centuries, the German and Napoleonic Codes were the most dominant.

Ancient India had independent schools of legal practice and theory. Around 100 AD, the Manusmriti and the Arthashastra were India’s foundational treatises. The central philosophy of Manusmriti revolved around pluralism and tolerance. When the British Empire annexed India, common law supplanted Islamic Law and Hindu tradition. Also, Hong Kong, Singapore, Brunei, and Malaysia adopted this common law.

 

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Essential Elements That Constitute Due Process of Law

The term “due process” is commonly known as receiving a fair trial for matters concerning the law, and these matters are usually criminal in nature. However, due process is much more than just what happens inside a courtroom. Due process is a fundamental right of every individual without exception. It is found in America’s Bill of Rights and is also the only command in the American Constitution that is stated twice. In order to put some clarity to the concept of due process, below are descriptive pieces of information that make it what it is.

A legal right which the government must respect

Due process is generally defined as “the legal right of a person that a government must respect before taking away his life, liberty, and property.” In other words, a citizen is entitled to due process before the government decides on his fate, be it financial, physical, or otherwise. Due process is one of those individual entitlements recognized as absolute, fundamental, and universal in modern society.

Basic elements of due process

There are three specific components of due process, namely, the right to a notice of the charges made against you, the opportunity for your side to be heard, and the opportunity to defend yourself. A violation of due process and the rule of law occur when a system or a person overlooks and ignores these three entitlements before convicting someone.

Right to notice of charges

IBJ Criminal Defense Wiki asserts that in order for a person charged with a criminal offense to receive a fair trial, he must be provided with “fair and adequate notice of what charges are being brought against him. Notice should be given in writing, with adequate time for the defense to conduct an independent investigation into the factual foundation of the charges.” This right is grounded in the American Constitution and must be observed strictly by all.

Right to be heard

Judicial courts are to regard all people as equal. A person charged with a criminal offense is assumed innocent until he is proven guilty. Moreover, he has the right to present his side of the story for the participants and/or the jury within a reasonable period of time, before any judgment or conviction is made.

Right to defend himself

Every person accused of a criminal charge has the right to have the assistance of a counsel so that he may defend himself. He can hire one if he can afford it. If he can’t, the government is obligated to provide him with a defense attorney. Moreover, he also has the right to demand for an impartial and competent tribunal. In other words, he needs to feel confident that the judge and jury are without any biases and would judge him fairly and objectively.

If you think about it, due process can actually bring delay in the timely delivery of justice especially to those who are victims of a crime. However, what is essential in the rule of law is to convict someone only if evidence and witness’ accounts prove that he is guilty beyond any reasonable doubt. The legal system is what it is to ensure that all individuals are treated equally and fairly without exception.

 

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When do you need a Lawyer?

The world of law is a very vast place. With new laws appearing on a yearly basis, old laws being updated, old laws being removed, and so on—the world of law is always changing. At this point, understanding basic laws are essential for civilians. Unfortunately for some, the law either catches up to them, they accidentally broke a law they knew nothing about, or they did break the law intentionally. Regardless of your legal matter, when do you really need to hire a lawyer?

Sometimes legal matters do not require the help of a lawyer. Some simple legal cases involve the individual representing themselves. Other simple legal issues can be resolved with a doctor, psychologist, and clergy. There are some legal cases, however, that always require a lawyer. Those legal cases are: arrest, lawsuits, being served legal documents, accidents with injury or property damage, divorce, adoption, bankruptcy, and even foreclosures.

When you run into legal troubles with the law, it can become extremely stressful to handle. Let’s say your home is in foreclosure. You get served papers, and you are unsure what to do with them. Your first instinct is to either get really upset, or throw the papers aside. At this point, this is the final straw and you just need a break. If you attempt to handle this foreclosure on your own (that does not involve moving out of your home), you may be faced with lawyers from your mortgage company who are much more proficient in law than you are. This may lead to more financial issues, and more legal trouble.

By getting a lawyer when your home becomes foreclosed, you are saving yourself a ton of headache. The lawyer can help you fight for your home, but also may advise against it. The lawyer will represent you in any court matters that are involved in the foreclosure. Not only is the lawyer able to help and guide you through the foreclosure process, they are able to protect you from any further legal issues.

A good example of a lawyer is helping with adoption. Adopting a child is not as easy as adopting a pet, you have to go through many more steps to reach your goal. You will need to meet with an adoption agency, and a lawyer would be helpful in this process as they can help you “win over” the adoption agency. They will make sure all adoption matters are completely legal and that you and your spouse (unless it’s just you) are capable of adopting.

Lawyers are great for many reasons, and sometimes you just don’t need one. If you are unsure if you need a lawyer, feel free to contact a law office. They will be able to give you basic information over the phone, or will request that you come in for a consultation meeting. Lawyers can be costly, but you should also get one as soon as possible if you know your legal matter is too big for you to handle on your own. Hiring a lawyer for such a legal issue will save you money in the long run and help reduce the stress of the situation. Remember: when in doubt, seek it out!

What it takes to Become a Lawyer

A lawyer is someone whose profession is to represent clients in a court of law or to advise or act for clients in other legal matters. Upon completion of school, lawyers undergo more training to prepare for their profession. Each lawyer can specialize, performing their services for divorce, injury, business, and so on, or simply keep a wide range of law practice. Regardless of what specialty, lawyers are required to undergo proper schooling and training before being allowed to practice law.

How To Become A Lawyer?

The first step to becoming a lawyer is to obtain a Bachelor’s degree from an accredited university or college. There is no specific degree that an individual needs in order to get into law school. Most law school acceptances come from students with a degree in political science, mathematics, journalism, and even English. However, there is no specific required field of study for a Bachelor’s degree before getting into law school. One thing to keep in mind, is pre-requisites for getting into law school. As long as you perform your pre-requisites successfully, and obtain your bachelor’s degree successfully, you are one step closer to a law career.

During the time of your undergraduate career, you should not simply just be getting your undergraduate degree. To become a lawyer, many people will obtain the proper experience during this time. The coursework taken for your undergraduate degree should be carefully planned out, to ensure you are on the right track to becoming a lawyer. You should also consider volunteer positions and internships in the law field of work, in order to gain experience and professional affiliations. All of this will help you develop your admissions package for your prospective law school career.

You would think that the next step to becoming a lawyer is to apply and enroll in law school. While technically this is the next step, you should take your law school exam first. This exam is called the Law School Admission test (LSAT), and is required by all law schools in America. Certain law schools require certain test scores, so make sure to research what score range you should be getting on your LSAT. Proper preparation and studying for the LSAT will guarantee you a great score and admission into law school.

Hopefully by now, on your journey to becoming a lawyer, you have researched potential law schools. At this point, it is time to apply to law school by submitting a complete application.

Your next step is to earn your juris doctor degree. During this time is when young, prospective lawyers are starting to plan out their career. This is when lawyers typically specialize in areas such as real estate, death, injuries, crime, and so on. This is typically a three year program, which is followed by the ever-so-famous bar exam.

Once you pass your bar exam, and a thorough background check from your respective state, you can begin to practice in your law career. Many lawyers start at the bottom ranks, and move their way up over time. Becoming a lawyer is a lengthy, strategic process. With the right guidance and patience, becoming a lawyer is do-able for anyone looking to practice law.