Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process; the formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people. A general distinction can be made between civil law jurisdictions, in which a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates their laws, common law systems, where judge-made precedent is accepted as binding law.
Religious laws played a significant role in settling of secular matters, is still used in some religious communities. Islamic Sharia law is the world's most used religious law, is used as the primary legal system in some countries, such as Iran and Saudi Arabia; the adjudication of the law is divided into two main areas. Criminal law deals with conduct, considered harmful to social order and in which the guilty party may be imprisoned or fined. Civil law deals with the resolution of lawsuits between individuals and/or organizations. Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, economic analysis and sociology. Law raises important and complex issues concerning equality and justice. Numerous definitions of law have been put forward over the centuries; the Third New International Dictionary from Merriam-Webster defines law as: "Law is a binding custom or practice of a community. The Dictionary of the History of Ideas published by Scribner's in 1973 defined the concept of law accordingly as: "A legal system is the most explicit, institutionalized, complex mode of regulating human conduct.
At the same time, it plays only one part in the congeries of rules which influence behavior, for social and moral rules of a less institutionalized kind are of great importance." There have been several attempts to produce "a universally acceptable definition of law". In 1972, one source indicated. McCoubrey and White said that the question "what is law?" has no simple answer. Glanville Williams said that the meaning of the word "law" depends on the context in which that word is used, he said that, for example, "early customary law" and "municipal law" were contexts where the word "law" had two different and irreconcilable meanings. Thurman Arnold said that it is obvious that it is impossible to define the word "law" and that it is equally obvious that the struggle to define that word should not be abandoned, it is possible to take the view that there is no need to define the word "law". The history of law links to the development of civilization. Ancient Egyptian law, dating as far back as 3000 BC, contained a civil code, broken into twelve books.
It was based on the concept of Ma'at, characterised by tradition, rhetorical speech, social equality and impartiality. By the 22nd century BC, the ancient Sumerian ruler Ur-Nammu had formulated the first law code, which consisted of casuistic statements. Around 1760 BC, King Hammurabi further developed Babylonian law, by codifying and inscribing it in stone. Hammurabi placed several copies of his law code throughout the kingdom of Babylon as stelae, for the entire public to see; the most intact copy of these stelae was discovered in the 19th century by British Assyriologists, has since been transliterated and translated into various languages, including English, Italian and French. The Old Testament dates back to 1280 BC and takes the form of moral imperatives as recommendations for a good society; the small Greek city-state, ancient Athens, from about the 8th century BC was the first society to be based on broad inclusion of its citizenry, excluding women and the slave class. However, Athens had no legal science or single word for "law", relying instead on the three-way distinction between divine law, human decree and custom.
Yet Ancient Greek law contained major constitutional innovations in the development of democracy. Roman law was influenced by Greek philosophy, but its detailed rules were developed by professional jurists and were sophisticated. Over the centuries between the rise and decline of the Roman Empire, law was adapted to cope with the changing social situations and underwent major codification under Theodosius II and Justinian I. Although codes were replaced by custom and case law during the Dark Ages, Roman law was rediscovered around the 11th century when medieval legal scholars began to research Roman codes and adapt their concepts. Latin legal maxims were compiled for guidance. In medieval England, royal
In law, an appeal is the process in which cases are reviewed, where parties request a formal change to an official decision. Appeals function both as a process for error correction as well as a process of clarifying and interpreting law. Although appellate courts have existed for thousands of years, common law countries did not incorporate an affirmative right to appeal into their jurisprudence until the 19th century. Appellate courts and other systems of error correction have existed for many millennia. During the first dynasty of Babylon and his governors served as the highest appellate courts of the land. Ancient Roman law employed a complex hierarchy of appellate courts, where some appeals would be heard by the emperor. Additionally, appellate courts have existed in Japan since at least the Kamakura Shogunate. During this time, the Shogunate established hikitsuke, a high appellate court to aid the state in adjudicating lawsuits. In the Eighteenth century, William Blackstone observed in his Commentaries on the Laws of England that appeals existed as a form of error correction in the common law during the reign of Edward III of England.
Although some scholars argue that "the right to appeal is itself a substantive liberty interest", the notion of a right to appeal is a recent advent in common law jurisdictions. In fact, commentators have observed that common law jurisdictions were "slow to incorporate a right to appeal into either its civil or criminal jurisprudence". For example, the United States first created a system of federal appellate courts in 1789, but a federal right to appeal did not exist in the United States until 1889, when Congress passed the Judiciary Act to permit appeals in capital cases. Two years the right to appeals was extended to other criminal cases, the United States Courts of Appeals were established to review decisions from district courts; some states, such as Minnesota, still do not formally recognize a right to criminal appeals. Although some courts permit appeals at preliminary stages of litigation, most litigants appeal final orders and judgments from lower courts. A fundamental premise of many legal systems is that appellate courts review questions of law de novo, but appellate courts do not conduct independent fact-finding.
Instead, appellate courts will defer to the record established by the trial court, unless some error occurred during the fact-finding process. Many jurisdictions provide a statutory or constitutional right for litigants to appeal adverse decisions. However, most jurisdictions recognize that this right may be waived. In the United States, for example, litigants may waive the right to appeal, as long as the waiver is "considered and intelligent"; the appellate process begins when an appellate court grants a party's petition for review or petition for certiorari. Unlike trials, appeals are presented to a judge, or a panel of judges, rather than a jury. Before making any formal argument, parties will submit legal briefs in which the parties present their arguments. Appellate courts may grant permission for an amicus curiae to submit a brief in support of a particular party or position. After submitting briefs, parties have the opportunity to present an oral argument to a judge or panel of judges. During oral arguments, judges ask question to attorneys to challenge their arguments or to advance their own legal theories.
After deliberating in chambers, appellate courts will issue formal opinions that resolve the legal issues presented for review. When considering cases on appeal, appellate courts affirm, reverse, or vacate the decision of a lower court; some courts maintain a dual function, where they consider both appeals as well as matters of "first instance". For example, the Supreme Court of the United States hears cases on appeal but retains original jurisdiction over a limited range of cases; some jurisdictions maintain a system of intermediate appellate courts, which are subject to the review of higher appellate courts. The highest appellate court in a jurisdiction is sometimes referred to as a "court of last resort". Civil procedure List of legal topics Judicial review Appellate procedure in the United States Scope of review
A witness is someone who has, who claims to have, or is thought, by someone with authority to compel testimony, to have knowledge relevant to an event or other matter of interest. In law a witness is someone who, either voluntarily or under compulsion, provides testimonial evidence, either oral or written, of what he or she knows or claims to know about the matter before some official authorized to take such testimony. A percipient witness or eyewitness is one who testifies what they perceived through his or her senses; that perception might be either with the unaided human sense or with the aid of an instrument, e.g.: microscope or stethoscope, or by other scientific means, e.g.: a chemical reagent which changes color in the presence of a particular substance. A hearsay witness is one who testifies what someone else wrote. In most court proceedings there are many limitations on; such limitations do not apply to grand jury investigations, many administrative proceedings, may not apply to declarations used in support of an arrest or search warrant.
Some types of statements are not deemed to be hearsay and are not subject to such limitations. An expert witness is one who has specialized knowledge relevant to the matter of interest, which knowledge purportedly helps to either make sense of other evidence, including other testimony, documentary evidence or physical evidence. An expert witness may or may not be a percipient witness, as in a doctor or may or may not have treated the victim of an accident or crime. A reputation witness is one who testifies about the reputation of a person or business entity, when reputation is material to the dispute at issue, they are a person who aids that because of a persons interactions and personality the defendant is guilty/innocent In law a witness might be compelled to provide testimony in court, before a grand jury, before an administrative tribunal, before a deposition officer, or in a variety of other proceedings. Sometimes the testimony is provided in a confidential setting. Although informally a witness includes whoever perceived the event, in law, a witness is different from an informant.
A confidential informant is someone who claimed to have witnessed an event or have hearsay information, but whose identity is being withheld from at least one party. The information from the confidential informant may have been used by a police officer or other official acting as a hearsay witness to obtain a search warrant. A subpoena commands a person to appear, it is used to compel the testimony of a witness in a trial. It can be issued by a judge or by the lawyer representing the plaintiff or the defendant in a civil trial or by the prosecutor or the defense attorney in a criminal proceeding. In many jurisdictions, it is compulsory to comply, to take an oath, to tell the truth, under penalty of perjury. In a court proceeding, a witness may be called by either the defense; the side that calls the witness first asks questions in. The opposing side may ask their own questions in what is called cross-examination. In some cases, redirect examination may be used by the side that called the witness but only to contradict specific testimony from the cross-examination.
Recalling a witness means calling a witness, who has given testimony in a proceeding, to give further testimony. A court may give leave to a party to recall a witness only to give evidence about a matter adduced by another party if the second party's testimony contradicts evidence given by the original witness on direct examination. Witnesses are permitted to testify only what they experienced first-hand. In most cases, they may not testify about something; that restriction does not apply to expert witnesses, but they may testify only in the area of their expertise. Eyewitness testimony is presumed to be more reliable than circumstantial evidence. Studies have shown, that individual, separate witness testimony is flawed, parts of it can be meaningless; that can occur because of flaws in eyewitness identification. If several people witness a crime, it is probative to look for similarities in their collective descriptions to substantiate the facts of an event but to keep in mind the contrasts between individual descriptions.
One study involved an experiment. Jurors heard a description of a robbery-murder, a prosecution argument, an argument for the defense; some jurors heard only circumstantial evidence. In the former case, 18% percent found the defendant guilty, but in the latter case, 72% found the defendant guilty. Police lineups in which the eyewitness picks out a suspect from a group of people in the police station are grossly suggestive, they give the false impression that the witness remembered the suspect. In another study, students watched a staged crime. An hour they looked through photos. A week they were asked to pick the suspect out of lineups. 8% of the people in the lineups were mistakenly identified as criminals. 20% of the innocent people whose photographs were included were mistakenly identified. Weapon focus effects in which the presence of a weapon impairs memory for surrounding details is an issue. Another study looked at 65 cases of "erroneous criminal convictions of inn
A deposition in the law of the United States, or examination for discovery in the law of Canada, involves the taking of sworn, out-of-court oral testimony of a witness that may be reduced to a written transcript for use in court or for discovery purposes. Depositions are used in litigation in the United States and Canada, they are always conducted outside court by the lawyers themselves, with no judge present to supervise the examination. Depositions developed in the United States in the nineteenth century. Depositions are a part of the discovery process in which litigants gather information in preparation for trial. In nations that do not provide for depositions, testimony is preserved for future use by way of live testimony in the courtroom, or by way of written affidavit; some jurisdictions recognize an affidavit as a form of deposition, sometimes called a "deposition upon written questions." While in common law jurisdictions such as England and Wales and New Zealand recording the oral evidence of supporting witnesses is routine during pre-litigation investigations, having the right to pose oral questions to the opposing party's witnesses before trial is not.
Deposition is the preferred term in U. S. federal courts and in the majority of U. S. states. Some states refer to a deposition as an examination before trial. However, in unusual situations depositions are sometimes taken during or after trial. In all cases pending in United States federal courts, depositions are carried out under Rule 30 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure. About 35 states use versions of the FRCP in their state courts. Other states have discovery rules that are set out either in court rules or statutes, which vary somewhat from one state to another. According to FRCP Rule 30, the number of depositions is limited to 10 depositions per side, with deposition of each deponent limited to 1 day of 7 hours; the person to be deposed at a deposition, known as the deponent, is notified to appear at the appropriate time and place by means of a subpoena. The most desired witness is an opposite party to the action. In that instance, legal notice may be given to that person's attorney, a subpoena is not required.
But, if the witness is not a party to the lawsuit or is reluctant to testify a subpoena must be served on that party. To ensure an accurate record of statements made during a deposition, a court reporter is present and transcribes the deposition by digital recording or stenographic means. Depending upon the amount in controversy and the ability of the witness to appear at trial, audio or video recordings of the deposition are sometimes taken as well. Depositions take place at the office of the court reporter or in the office of one of the law firms involved in a case. However, depositions are sometimes taken at a witness's workplace or home, or in a nearby hotel's conference room; the deposition is attended by the person, to be deposed, their attorney, court reporter, other parties in the case who can appear or be represented by their counsels. Any party to the action and their attorneys have the right to ask questions. Prior to taking a deposition, the court reporter administers the same oath or affirmation that the deponent would take if the testimony were being given in court in front of a judge and jury.
Thereafter, the court reporter makes a verbatim digital or stenographic record of all, said during the deposition, in the same manner that witness testimony is recorded in court. Some jurisdictions allow stenomask technology in lieu of traditional stenographic equipment, although many jurisdictions still prohibit stenomask because of its disconcerting effect on some lawyers and witnesses. Attorneys for the deposing litigant are present, although this is not required in all jurisdictions; the attorney who has ordered the deposition begins questioning of the deponent. Since nods and gestures cannot be recorded, the witness is instructed to answer all questions aloud. After the direct examination, other attorneys in attendance have an opportunity to cross-examine the witness; the first attorney may ask more questions at the end, in re-direct, which may be followed by re-cross. During the course of the deposition, one attorney or another may object to questions asked. In most jurisdictions, only two types of objections are allowed: The first is to assert a privilege and the second is to object to the form of the question asked.
Objections to form are used to signal the witness to be careful in answering the question. Since the judge is not present, all other objections, in particular those involving the rules of evidence, are preserved until trial, they still can be made sometime at the deposition to indicate the serious problem to judge and witness, but the witness must answer the question despite these objections. If the form objection is made, the opposite party still has the right to re-phrase the same question and ask it again. Indeed, in Texas, lawyers were so aggressively using objections to indirectly coach their witnesses on the record that all objections outside four narrow categories are now prohibited and making such prohibited objections waives all objections to the question or answer at issue. California is the major "outlier" on deposition objections.
Discovery, in the law of common law jurisdictions, is a pre-trial procedure in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, requests for admissions and depositions. Discovery can be obtained from non-parties using subpoenas; when a discovery request is objected to, the requesting party may seek the assistance of the court by filing a motion to compel discovery. Discovery evolved out of an unique feature of early equitable pleading procedure before the English Court of Chancery: among various requirements, a plaintiff's bill in equity was required to plead "positions." These were statements of evidence that the plaintiff assumed to exist in support of his pleading and which he believed lay within the knowledge of the defendant. They resembled modern requests for admissions, in that the defendant was required to plead only whether they were true or false.
At some point between the reign of Elizabeth I and the late seventeenth century, positions were replaced by interrogatories—written questions which the defendant was required to respond to in his answer to the bill based on information within his own personal knowledge as well as documents in his possession. But back interrogatories could only elicit admissible evidence and could only request evidence in support of the plaintiff's case, not either side's case. Worse, this was purely a one-way procedure, because interrogatories could only be pleaded as part of a bill. A defendant who needed to obtain evidence in support of his defenses had to file a cross-bill against the plaintiff to plead his own interrogatories. Discovery did not exist at common law, but its availability in equity attracted litigants in actions at law, they began to file bills in equity to obtain discovery in aid of actions at law. This led to another innovation in the mid-15th century: the bill to perpetuate testimony of a potential witness.
This was for witnesses whose advanced age or poor health implied they would not survive to testify at the trial of an action at law. In this type of proceeding, the parties pleaded written interrogatories which a commission would ask the witness on their behalf without parties or counsel present; the recorded answers were sealed and were not revealed to parties or counsel until shortly before the trial in which they were to be used. Major reforms enacted in New York in the late 1840s and in England in the early 1850s laid the foundation for the rise of modern discovery by imposing a clear separation between pleadings and discovery as distinct phases of procedural law. Discovery devices could now be invoked independently of the pleadings; the New York reforms went much farther, by directly merging common law and equity procedure, by expressly authorizing a new discovery device. Parties and their attorneys could now demand pretrial oral examination of opposing parties and third-party witnesses, the basis of the modern deposition.
Under the law of the United States, civil discovery is wide-ranging and may seek disclosure of information, reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence. This is a much broader standard than relevance, because it contemplates the exploration of evidence which might be relevant, rather than evidence, relevant. Certain types of information are protected from discovery. Other types of information may be protected, depending on the type of case and the status of the party. For instance, juvenile criminal records are not discoverable, peer review findings by hospitals in medical negligence cases are not discoverable and, depending on the case, other types of evidence may be non-discoverable for reasons of privacy, difficulty and/or expense in complying and for other reasons. Electronic discovery or "e-discovery" refers to discovery of information stored in electronic format. In practice, most civil cases in the United States are settled after discovery. After discovery, both sides are in agreement about the relative strength and weaknesses of each side's case and this results in either a settlement or summary judgment, which eliminates the expense and risks of a trial.
Discovery is available in criminal cases. Under the rule set forth in Brady v. Maryland, the prosecutor is obligated to provide to the defendant any information, exculpatory or exculpatory, without any request by the defense. Further discovery is available. For example, a discovery demand might be for production of the names of witnesses, witness statements, information about evidence, a request for opportunity to inspect tangible evidence, for any reports prepared by expert witnesses who will testify at trial. If a defendant in a criminal case requests discovery from the prosecution, the prosecutor may request reciprocal discovery; the prosecutor's right to discovery is deemed reciprocal as it arises from the defendant's reque