“The court should be a place where anybody can come – whatever they have in their pocket – and be able to file a complaint in simple fashion and at least have somebody
give consideration to it and give them an opportunity to be heard.”
— Thomas T. Curtin, Judge, U.S. District Court
“It is not good to have zeal without knowledge, nor to be hasty and miss the way.”
— Proverbs, 19:2
This chapter will equip you to:
- Understand the judicial branch of government
- Learn what different legal terminology really means
- Learn the proper way to proceed – there is an A to Z framework to follow
This chapter is a quick flyover summary of the legal landscape and will acquaint you with our judicial system. Many of the elements touched on in this section will be revisited in subsequent chapters in more detail, while others are included to help give you a better hands-on grasp of the law and your place in it.
Types Of Law
There are four main elements that together comprise the rule of law and governance in our legal system: Constitutions, statutes, precedent or case law and rules or regulations. These elements are constantly evolving as the legislative, executive and judicial branches weigh in and add, change or take away the body of understanding that we know as the law. It is this change and mutual interdependence that constitutes the system of checks and balances the founding framers envisioned.
In the years following the end of the bloody American Revolution delegates from the 13 states assembled in Philadelphia to create a new framework of governing to keep the nascent union from sliding into rival factions and advance upon the hard won victories of the war. The Constitution of the United States, ratified in 1787, defined the structural components of our system of government and justice, assigning power to three separate but equal branches and establishing the limits of those powers. Coming from a tradition of tyranny, the founders sought to ensure that no one branch could ever concentrate such power that it could come to dominate the other branches. Instead, they established a dynamic tension that requires mutual dependence on the one hand, while permitting each branch certain oversight provisions affecting the other two…. more