US Civil and Common Law

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USCivil and Common Law

Responseto question #1

Althoughthere are few similarities between the US civil and common laws law,it is evident that the two are very different legal systems thatdeveloped in different areas. Civil law, for instance, borrowsheavily from the Romans, and its primary features are that it hasbeen codified and written into a collection. {T}he civil law can besaid to be the most common and oldest law that is used in differentcountries across the world (H. Patrick Glenn, LegalTraditions of the world2000). Consequently, common law is that which develops over time as aresult of vigorous discussions by judges as opposed to statutes orthe constitution. The primary origin of common law is local customarypractices. In common law, historical records provide an essentialsource of legislation.

Thesupreme law in the United States is the Constitution. It dictates theseparation of power between the three government branches andoutlines the specific bill of rights that every American is entitledto enjoy regardless of skin color, religion or political ideology. Inthe United States, the constitution can qualify as a civil lawbecause it is continuously being updated so that it can addresscurrent issues that affected Americans.

Additionally,the US Constitution state that for one to be charged with an offenseand convicted, evidence need to be produced to match the claim, thesame is witnessed in the civil law whereby there is inquisitorial,and lawyers present their arguments based on the evidence that hasbeen provided to the court. The constitution does not fit thedescription of common law because it is very precise and does notgive room for speculations Sara (McLaughlin Mitchell &amp EmiliaJustyna Powell, Domesticlaw goes global 2011).

Theprinciples of the Declaration of Independence are based on the beliefthat men are created equal. The declaration of independence is amajor component of the American constitutionalism Thomas Jefferson &amp(Sam Fink, theDeclaration of Independence(2002). Since it is not the supreme law of the country, it can thusbe said that the declaration of independence can be classified asboth common law and civil law.

Theprinciples of the Declaration of Independence suits the descriptionof a common law because it contains guidelines that members of thejury often refers to before making their judgments. Additionally, thedocument is counted among the country’s historical records and isthus an essential source of legislation in common law. It can be saidto be a civil law because its principles such as the belief that allmen were created equal necessitated the amendment of the country’sconstitution. Similar sentiments are shared in the Bible, whereby inGenesis1:27(King James) God created everyone in His image to dominate over othercreatures.

TheBill of rights is a crucial component in the constitution becausethey ensure that the fundamental rights of the citizens areprotected. The document suits the description of both the civil andcommon law. It best describes common law because the Fifth Amendmentstates that a person cannot be prosecuted without being given a dueprocess. This step is important because it ensures judicial processesare free and fair because accused individuals are heard and alsogiven an opportunity to defend themselves.

TheBill of rights protects people from searches that are unreasonableand seizures without a warrant. (John W Head, Greatlegal traditions(2011). Under the bill of rights, an accused person has the right tobe informed of the nature of the charge before the prosecutionbegins. Every person is also supposed to be treated equally beforethe law. It suits civil laws because it guarantees the citizens thefreedom of religion, speech, assembly, press, and petition.Additionally, it is a common law because some components are usuallybased on case laws.

Responseto Question 2

Comparingof the US federal court system and that of Virginia

Firstof all, while comparing the federal and state court, it is importantto note that the constitution is the supreme law of the land in theentire United States. It is the constitution that creates a federalsystem which allows judiciary powers to be shared between the stategovernment and the federal government. As a result of theseprovisions, both the state and federal government have their owncourt system which have some differences in their judicial selectionprocesses, cases that can be heard in both systems and structuraldifferences.

Thefirst major differences between the federal court system and that ofVirginia is seen in terms of the court structure. In the federalcourt system, the constitution specifically creates the supreme courtof the United States and Congress is the one that is tasked with theresponsibility of creating lower federal courts. Additionally, it isworth noting that Article II of the constitution gives judicialpowers of the country to the federal court system. In Virginia’scourt system, the laws and constitution of the state is the one thatestablishes the state court. The Supreme Court in the state isusually established as a last resort and is also the highest one.There are also district courts in Virginia. Additionally, in thestate of Virginia, the 120 courts are further divided among 31judicial circuits.

Additionally,in the federal court system, Congress has used the powers bestowedupon it by the constitution to create 13 courts of appeal, court ofclaims, international court of trade, bankruptcy court and 94district courts. As is suggested by the court names, every courthandle specific cases. The magistrate judges however, hand some ofthe district court cases. In the State of Virginia, there are statecourts that also handle specific cases. An example of this is seenthe domestic relation district and Juvenile courts among others.

Theorganizational structure of the federal courts allows parties thatare dissatisfied with the rulings of a US Court of Claim,international trade court and the District court to appeal to a courtof appeal. In Virginia states, individuals or corporations that feelthat they are dissatisfied with any ruling made in the trial courtshave another opportunity to appeal for their case to be heard in theintermediate court of appealsUnited States Courts United States Courts,,2016).

Sincethe federal court system has more authority, there is a provisionthat allows an individual or organization to ask the Supreme Court toreconsider or review the decision made by the appeal courts. However,the Supreme Court is not obliged in any way by the constitution to doso. In federal courts, the Supreme Court thus serves as the finalarbiter. In Virginia’s court system and any other state, partieshave the options of utilizing even the highest court.

Anothermajor difference between the federal court of the United States andthat of Virginia is seen in terms of the selection of judges. In thefederal court system, the constitution state that the president isthe one who nominates the judges who preside over cases. Onceappointed, they can hold the office for life provided theydemonstrate good behaviour. The constitution only allows for theremoval of federal judges through congressional impeachments. InVirginia, the selection of judges is through annual appointments andelections.

Interms of the court’s jurisdictions, it is important to note thatthe federal court systems deals with the constitutionality of a law.It therefore hears cases that involve treaties, public ministers andambassadors. Additionally, it handles cases such as Bankruptcy,Habeas corpus issues and adminirality laws. The state court on theother hand hears criminal, contract and tort cases. Additionally, isseen in the federal court system, in Virginia, the state court arethe final arbiters of constitutions and local laws. Supreme Court candecide whether to hear or decline appealed cases.

Lastly,in terms of the case load, it is evident that Virginia courts tend tohandle larger number of cases than the federal ones. Only cases thatare of national importance tend to make it the U.S supreme courts.Famous cases such as that of O.J Simpson are example of state caseseven though it attracted national attention.


H.Patrick Glenn, Legaltraditions of the world(2000).

JohnW Head,Great legal traditions(Carolina Academic Press) (2011)

&nbspSaraMcLaughlin Mitchell &amp Emilia Justyna Powell, Domesticlaw goes global(2011).

TheKing James study Bible, (2002).

&nbspThomasJefferson &amp Sam Fink, theDeclaration of Independence(2002)

UnitedStates Courts United States Courts, (lastvisited Oct 16, 2016)

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