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Section 2 Introduction-1

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1 Section 2 Introduction-1
Civil Law Key Terms civil law, contract, expressed contract, implied contract, real property, personal property, mortgage, tort, plaintiff, defendant, injunction, complaint, summons, answer, discovery, mediation, affidavit Find Out • What are the various types of civil law that affect people today? • What are the steps in a civil law case? Section 2 Introduction-1

2 Section 2 Introduction-2
Civil Law Understanding Concepts Political Processes How does the legal system attempt to provide justice for all? Section Objective Explain the various types of civil law and the steps involved in resolving a civil dispute. Section 2 Introduction-2

3 Justice David J. Brewer once stated, “America is the paradise of lawyers.” There are more lawyers in the United States than in any other country. In 1998, approximately 912,000 lawyers practiced in the United States, mostly in civil law. Section 2-1

4 I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432)
A. Civil law, which concerns disputes between two or more individuals or between individuals and government, makes up about 90 percent of the cases heard in state courts. B. Four of the most important types of civil law deal with 1) contracts, 2) property, 3) family relations, and 4) civil wrongs causing physical injury or injury to property (tort). C. Contract law involves a contract, or a set of enforceable voluntary promises. Section 2-2

5 I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432)
D. Property law deals with the use and ownership of property. E. Family law deals with relationships among family members—marriage, divorce, and child custody. F. Civil wrongs, or torts, deal with any wrongful act for which the injured party has the right to sue for damages in a civil court. G. Equity law settles disputes on the grounds of fairness. Section 2-3

6 I. Types of Civil Law (pages 430–432)
What is civil law, and what are the four most common kinds of civil law cases? Civil law settles disputes between people. Contract, property, family, and tort cases. Section 2-4

7 II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434)
A. In a civil case, called a lawsuit, a plaintiff seeks damages, usually an award of money, from the defendant. B. To begin, the plaintiff usually hires a lawyer, either on a contingency fee, usually one-fifth to one-half of the total award, or for an hourly fee. C. Most lawsuits go to state courts; the plaintiff sets forth the charges against the defendant in a complaint. Section 2-5

8 II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434)
D. During discovery, each side prepares for the trial by checking facts and gathering evidence. E. About 90 percent of civil lawsuits are settled before trial, using several settlement techniques. F. If all else fails, the civil lawsuit goes to trial, in which procedures are similar to those in criminal trials; civil lawsuits are tried by a jury or a judge, who decides the verdict. G. When the plaintiff wins, the court awards damages; however, if the defendant refuses to pay, the plaintiff must get a court order to enforce payment. Section 2-6

9 II. Steps in a Civil Case (pages 433–434)
Some people think that limitations should be placed on damage awards in civil cases. What would be some advantages and disadvantages of doing this? Answers will vary. Students should address the effects of limiting damage awards. Section 2-7

10 III. Small Claims Courts (pages 434–435)
A. Most states provide an alternative to lengthy civil trials by setting up small claims courts. B. Small claims courts hear civil cases dealing with collecting small debts, property damage, small business problems, and the like. C. Small claims court cases are usually heard by a judge and involve maximum claims of $1,000 to $5,000, depending on the state; the judge’s decision is legally binding. Section 2-8

11 III. Small Claims Courts (pages 434–435)
Why are small claims courts an important part of the civil justice system? These courts provide a quick and simple way to solve minor disputes. Section 2-9

12 Checking for Understanding
1. Main Idea Use a graphic organizer like the one below to show the five steps in a civil lawsuit. 1. hiring a lawyer; 2. complaint; 3. discovery; 4. trial; 5. award Section 2 Assessment-1

13 Checking for Understanding
Match the term with the correct definition. ___ civil law ___ contract ___ expressed contract ___ implied contract ___ tort ___ affidavit C A F D B E A. a set of voluntary promises, enforceable by the law, between two or more parties B. a wrongful act, other than breach of contract, for which an injured party has the right to sue C. relating to disputes among two or more individuals or between individuals and the government D. a contract in which the terms are not specifically stated but can be inferred from the actions of the people involved and the circumstances E. a written statement to prove statements as fact signed by a witness under oath F. a contract in which the terms are specifically stated, usually in writing Section 2 Assessment-2

14 Checking for Understanding
3. Identify Fair Housing Act. The Fair Housing Act is a federal law that aims to protect people against discrimination on the basis of race, religion, color, national origin, or gender when they try to buy a home or obtain a loan. Section 2 Assessment-3

15 Checking for Understanding
4. What do four of the most important branches of civil law deal with? Contracts, property, family relations, and torts Section 2 Assessment-4

16 Checking for Understanding
5. What is the difference between intentional tort and negligence tort? An intentional tort involves a deliberate act that results in harm to a person or property; negligence involves careless or reckless behavior in which a person fails to do something that a reasonable person would have done. Section 2 Assessment-5

17 Critical Thinking 6. Drawing Conclusions In your opinion should mediation and arbitration be used to settle most civil lawsuits in order to prevent overburdening the court system? Answers will vary. Students may be in general agreement in favoring resolutions without trials but some students may stress that going to trial should remain an option. Section 2 Assessment-6

18 Section 2 Concepts in Action
Political Processes Interview relatives or a neighbor who has been involved in a lawsuit or in small claims court. Find out the nature of the dispute and the way the lawsuit was resolved. Make sure you get the individual’s permission before discussing the case in class. Present a brief documentary of your findings to the class. Section 2 Concepts in Action


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