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10. What Is the Relationship between Case Law and Legislation Case Law and Constitutions

Both the federal and state constitutions are written in words that can be interpreted more than once. Therefore, there are many exceptions to the protection of any constitution. The protection of the Constitution and exceptions are discussed in detail in Chapter 3 “Protection of the Constitution”. The English legal system found its way to the United States with the first settlers. Initially, the thirteen colonies unanimously adopted the common law as the law of the land. All crimes were common law crimes, and the cases identified criminal elements, defences and punishment regimes. Gradually, after the War of Independence, hostility to England and modern reforms led to the erosion of common law crimes and a codification movement. States began to replace common law crimes with laws enacted by state legislators. Oxford Professor Sir William Blackstone`s Commentaries on English Law, which interpreted and summarized English customary law, became an essential reference when the nation began the process of transforming common law principles into written laws, ordinances and penal codes (Duhaime, L., 2010). A precedent, known as stare decisis, is a history of court decisions that form the basis for evaluating future cases. The common law, also known as jurisprudence, relies on detailed records of similar situations and laws, as there is no formal legal code that can be applied to a case in this case.

Any court may attempt to distinguish the present case from that of a binding precedent in order to reach a different conclusion. The validity of such a distinction may or may not be recognized in an appeal against that judgment before a higher court. A court of appeal may also rule on a completely new and different analysis from that of the younger courts and may be bound by its own previous decisions or, in any event, differentiate according to the facts. [4] Law professors have traditionally played a much less important role in the development of common law jurisprudence than civil law professors. Since court decisions in civil law traditions are historically short and formally unambiguous, much of the presentation of law in civil law traditions is done by academics rather than judges; this is called teaching and can be published in treatises or in journals such as the Recueil Dalloz in France. Historically, common law courts relied little on case law; Thus, at the turn of the twentieth century, it was very rare for an academic writer to be cited in a legal decision (with the possible exception of academic writings by prominent judges such as Coke and Blackstone). Today, academic writers are often cited in legal arguments and decisions as a persuasive authority; They are often cited when judges try to implement arguments that other courts have not yet adopted, or when they feel that the academic`s reformulation of the law is more convincing than in case law. Common law systems thus adopt one of the approaches long advocated in civil law jurisdictions. Civil law is a complete and codified set of laws created by the legislator. A civil system clearly defines the cases that can be brought before the courts, the procedures for handling claims and the penalty for a crime. The judicial authorities use the conditions of the applicable Civil Code to assess the facts of each case and to take legislative decisions. Although civil law is regularly updated, the purpose of standardized codes is to create order and reduce biased systems where laws are applied differently on a case-by-case basis.

Geoffrey is Conrad`s defense attorney, who is on trial for first-degree murder. The murder charge takes place in New Mexico. Geoffrey finds a precedent set by a New York appeals court in 1999 that suggests Conrad should have been prosecuted for premeditated manslaughter rather than first-degree murder. Brandon, the prosecutor, finds a precedent from the New Mexico Supreme Court from 2008 indicating that prosecutions for first-degree murder are appropriate. The trial court is likely to follow Brandon`s precedent because it is more recent, of a higher court and the same judicial system as the trial. A subordinate court may not rule against a binding precedent, even if it considers it unjust; it can only express the hope that a higher court or a legislator will reform the rule in question […].

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