Quiz 1: Introduction to Law and Legal Reasoning


Sources of law: Statutory law consists of laws enacted by legislative bodies at any level of government, from Congress to municipal governing units. Case law and common law doctrines, which originated in medieval England, are judge-made law. Even in statutory law cases, judges still make decisions based on their interpretations of the statute. When interpreting a particular statute, a court may refer to the common law origins as a guide to determine what legislators intended. Thus, a judge, who is "making" common law, is bound by a statute (although judges may have different reasoning in applying the statute differently.) For instance, State X has a statute that all domesticated animals be micro chipped for identification purposes. Joe is ticketed because his dog and pet lion do not have a microchip. According to the statute, Joe will certainly have to pay the ticket regarding his pet dog, as dogs have a long history of domestication. However, if Joe contests the ticket for his pet lion, a judge may have the flexibility to determine whether a pet lion is truly a domesticated animal. The judge may find that the broad category of "animals" would include any creature kept as a pet, in which case the ticket would stand. But if the judge interprets the statute and finds that lions do not fall into the domesticated animals' category because lions can never be fully domesticated, then Joe would not have to pay the second ticket.

Schools of jurisprudential thought: "Crimes against humanity" can be considered part of the natural law theory. Natural law supposes the higher or universal law exists that applies to all human being and that written laws should reflect this higher law. The idea that people have "natural rights" stems from this theory. Examples of natural rights include life and liberty. In this case, it does not matter that there was no written law. The Nazis convicted of this crime had violated natural law. The fact that "positivist" laws required them to perform certain tasks is irrelevant. (Positivist advocates argue that valid sources of law are written laws from a government entity, regardless of the content of the law itself).

Finding case law: Opinions on cases can be found in different reporters, depending on whether they are state court or federal court decisions. There are also regional reporters. The opinion of this case can be found in Volume 119 of the official Connecticut Appellate Reports , on page 368. The parallel citations can find be find in Volume 987 of the Atlantic Reporter , Second Series, on page 406. Citing a reporter by volume number, name and page number are common to all citations.

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