American Legal System Answers

1. What are the origins of the American legal system? Please make sure your answer includes the following matters: the common law, precedent, stare decisis, and judicial review. You may also talk about other origins that you believe to be important.Laws refer to critical rules enforced upon individual members of a given group with the sole purpose of creating and maintaining a functioning society. In this respect, countries from across the globe have not only their own laws but also law systems. The United States of America (U.S.) is no exception when it comes to this because it has one of the well-developed legal systems in the world. The current U.S. law system can be traced back to Great Britain. Having colonized the U.S., the first British settlers created 13 colonies, which they governed and ruled through a set of principles, as well as rules (Spohn, Hemmens, & McCann, 2018). After America’s independence, English laws formed the basis of new rules and regulations in the country. The origins of the U.S. legal system tends to be inextricably linked to that of England. In particular, the fundamental principles, which comprise the present-day American law system include; common law, judicial review, precedent, and stare decisis.

Common law and precedent. According to Brouwer (2018), the American legal system revolves around common law, meaning it relies a great deal on court precedents when it comes to formal adjudications. Even when a given statute is facing an issue, the common law system provides that previous judicial determinations remain critical to how the court resolves the matter or lawsuit before it. In essence, the creation of common law occurs when a court makes its decision on a given case, in addition to setting precedent. By definition, the principle of precedent refers the practice or whole process of referring to and using previous court rulings to inform judgments in a current case. Concisely, in the U.S. legal system, judges often cite or use a decided case as an example when justifying his or her judgment in subsequent cases.

Judicial review. The U.S. legal system also originates from judicial review, which refers to the power given to the country’s Supreme Court to play a central role in reviewing laws, as well as actions from both the executive and legislative branches of government with the sole purpose of determining their constitutionality (Lustig & Weiler, 2018). Accordingly, judicial review creates the various checks and balances necessary for limiting misuse of power by of the three federal government branches. In this sense, the judicial review remains of one of the fundamental principles of the U.S law system as it goes a long way in ensuring the President and Congress remain subject to review, as well as possible invalidation when they breach the Constitution.

The establishment of judicial review followed the landmark ruling made by the Supreme Court in 1803 in a case involving Marbury versus Madison. The court through Chief Justice John Marshall included one of the defining passages, arguing that the U.S. Judicial Department (JD) has the duty of saying what constitutes the country’s law (Spohn, Hemmens, & McCann, 2018). In other words, the passage requires anyone who applies the rule to a given case to place much emphasis on expounding and interpreting the rule as a way of avoiding the conflict between two or more laws. In this respect, judicial review creates and maintains the much-needed power balance in the U.S. society.

Stare decisis. Besides common law, judicial review, and precedent, stare decisis, which has so far been attributed to Justice Brandeis, is another of the critical origins of the U.S. legal system. The principle in question serves as a unique but widely adopted method tasked with the responsibility of making case laws in good laws. In this respect, stare decisis involves the practice of allowing or letting past or previous court decisions stand, meaning the principle expect judges to abide by those rulings in their current matters, cases. In his recent study, Kozel (2010) corroborate that stare decisis has a broad range of names and descriptions because it refers to one of the policy principles, a series of pragmatic considerations, as well as the preferred course. Moreover, stare decisis serves as an extremely critical judicial doctrine, which plays a leading role in guiding the various decision rules used by judges in resolving disputes before the courts. Concisely, the U.S. legal system is founded on the principle of stare decisis, which requires individual judges to prioritize respecting the already established precedent; a judge must not disturb any of the settled matters.

2. Describe the role of the judge, the grand jury, and the trial jury in criminal trials. Please explain why the trial jury is both substantively and symbolically important.

3. Discuss the factors that significantly curtail the discretion of judges in the American criminal justice system. 

4. Take a position on whether plea agreements are generally good or bad, and why it would be difficult to ban or severely restrict plea agreements.

5. Is it really realistic today to believe that jurors can be insulated from pretrial and trial publicity?

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