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Unit 8: American Legal System

Page history last edited by Pete Scholtes 11 years, 1 month ago


Unit 8: Legal System

Unit 8 Summary: In this unit, you will learn how the legal system works, the difference between the intent and letter of the law, and how criminal and civil cases proceed. You'll also learn why we have laws in the first place, examine the juvenile justice system, and analyze key Supreme Court decisions that have expanded the Constitution. Revised checklist due to Snow Day and MCA testing: Civ and Econ Unit 8 Checklist REVISED.doc Original checklist: Civ and Econ Unit 8 Checklist.doc


Week 30 (Apr. 8-11)

▢ Mon: Copy Unit 8 Terms into notebook (3 points): Terms with definitions (for students with IEP):  Unit 8 Terms.doc Blank terms for notebook:Unit 8 Terms blank.doc

▢ Mon:  Homework 1: "Why We Need Laws" Worksheet for p. 392-395. (3 points)

▢ Tue: Intent vs. Letter of the Law lecture. (2 points)Intent vs Letter of the Law Lecture.doc

▢ Tue: "No Vehicles in the Park" worksheet. (3 points)

▢ Wed: Reading 1: Ch. 18, Sec. 3: "Kinds of Laws," p. 399-403. Get questions in class. (5 points) Powerpoint: Unit 8 Reading 1.ppt Questions: Questions for Unit 8 Reading 1.doc

Thu: (snow day)


All rotations, Apr. 15:

▢ Mon: Federal Courts lecture. (2 points): Monday Federal Courts Lesson Plan.doc

▢ Mon: "Criminal and Civil Law" worksheet. (3 points)

▢ Mon: Homework 2: "Crime in American Society" worksheet (use p. 412-414) (3 points)


Rotation 1 and 2, Apr. 16 - 22:

▢ Tue:  Review "Crime in American Society" and "Criminal and Civil Law" worksheets. Movie: 12 Angry Men. (2 points) 12 Angry Men.doc


▢ Wed: Reading 2: Read excerpt from "The Criminal Justice System," p. 417-421 (stop before "Challenges Facing..."). Here are the questions:Questions for Unit 8, Reading 2.doc (5 points) Finish "Criminal and Civil Law" and "Crime in American Society" worksheets if you haven't.

▢ Thu: Movie: 12 Angry Men. 12 Angry Men.doc

▢ Mon: Movie: 12 Angry MenWatch Law & Order and review "Steps in a Criminal Case: Crime to Sentence." (2 points)


Rotation 5 and 6, Apr. 16 - 22:



▢ Thu: Reading 2: Read excerpt from "The Criminal Justice System," p. 417-421 (stop before "Challenges Facing..."). Get questions in class. (5 points) Finish "Criminal and Civil Law" and "Crime in American Society" worksheets if you haven't.

▢ Mon: Watch Law & Order and review "Steps in a Criminal Case: Crime to Sentence." Season 14, Episode 5. (2 points)

▢ Tue: Brief lecture: "Steps in a Civil Case: Complaint to Verdict" (4 points). We will postpone discussion of the Supreme Court until Unit 10. We will not be covering "Juvenile Justice System," but I encourage you  to read 423-427 in Civics and interview a court officer for an independent project. Work on Study Guide. I will get study guide to Rotation 1 & 2 students as homework. Vocabulary review (3 points) plus extra credit.

Work on Study Guide.

▢ Wed: Unit 8 review (2 participation points). Work on Study Guide, and finish as homework: Unit 8 Study Guide.doc

▢ Thu: Show completed Terms (6 points).

▢ Thu: Turn in STUDY GUIDE (6 points).

▢ Thu: UNIT 8 TEST (100 points).

▢ Fri: Progress Friday: Check grades and update checklist.


Total points: 150

formative work (~50) + assessment (100)


Unit 8: Legal System - Terms

morals: Beliefs about what is right and wrong.

laws: Rules of society enforced by government.


common law: Body of law based on judges' decisions.

crime: Illegal action.

felony: Crime punished by imprisonment for more than a year.

misdemeanor: Crime punished by jail for up to a year.

civil law: Laws that settle disagreements.

criminal law: Laws saying what acts are crimes.


complaint: Legal document charging someone with having caused harm.

plaintiff: Whoever brings complaint.

defendant: Whoever is defending against complaint.

prosecution: Government body bringing criminal charge against defendant.

precedent: Court decision that serves as guideline for future cases.

appeal: Defendant asks higher court to review a case.


lawsuits: Cases where court settles private dispute.

compensation: Payment meant to make up for harm.

damages: Money paid as compensation.

subpoena: Court order to produce a witness or document.

deposition: Recorded interview with witness before trial.


probable cause: Reason to believe someone's involved in a crime.

warrant: Court permission to police to make an arrest, seizure, or search.

bail: Money defendant gives court as promise to return for trial.

indictment: Formal charge against the accused.

arraignment: Court hearing where defendant enters a plea.

plea bargain: Pleading guilty in exchange for lesser charge or lighter sentence.

parole: Letting inmate go free to serve rest of sentence outside prison.


probation: Sentence where person goes free but must be under supervision of a court official.

Unit 8 Learning Goals:


__Describe the purposes, types, and sources of laws and rules. For example: Types of laws-civil, criminal and juvenile. Sources of laws and rules-case, statutory, administrative, executive.


__Evaluate the impact of at least two United States Supreme Court decisions on the United States economy. For example: Cases that define corporations as persons, child labor laws, commerce clause cases, anti- trust cases.



__Explain the purposes, organization, functions and processes of the judicial branch as enumerated in Article III of the United States Constitution.

__Evaluate the importance of an independent judiciary, judicial review and the rule of law.

__Explain the scope and limits of rights protected by the First and Second Amendments and changes created by legislative action and court interpretation.

__Explain the scope and limits of rights of the accused under the Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, and Eighth Amendments and changes created by legislative action and court interpretation.

__Explain the current and historical interpretations of the principles of due process and equal protection of the law; analyze the protections provided by the Fourteenth Amendment.

__Explain the responsibilities and duties for all individuals (citizens and non-citizens) in a republic. For example: Paying taxes, obeying the law, responding to government requests such as subpoenas, informed participation in voting and public decision-making, developing and defending positions on public policy issues, monitoring, influencing decision making.


If there's time:

__Define the legal meaning of citizenship in the United States, describe the process and requirements for citizenship, and explain the duties of citizenship including service in court proceedings (jury duty) and selective service registration (males).

__Describe the process of naturalization; explain the role of the federal government in establishing immigration policies.

__Examine a public policy issue by defining the problem, developing alternative courses of action, evaluating the consequences of each alternative, selecting a course of action, and designing a plan to implement the action and resolve the problem.


Instructor: Peter Scholtes



Class website: http://petehumanities.pbworks.com/


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