The Law Portal
Law is commonly understood as a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate conduct, although its precise definition is a matter of longstanding debate. It has been variously described as a science and the art of justice. 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, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally 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, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
Legal systems vary between countries, with their differences analysed in comparative law. In civil law jurisdictions, a legislature or other central body codifies and consolidates the law. In common law systems, judges make binding case law through precedent, although on occasion case law may be overturned by a higher court or the legislature. Historically, religious law influenced secular matters, and is still used in some religious communities. Sharia law based on Islamic principles is used as the primary legal system in several countries, including Iran and Saudi Arabia.
Law's scope can be divided into two domains. Public law concerns government and society, including constitutional law, administrative law, and criminal law. Private law deals with legal disputes between individuals and/or organisations in areas such as contracts, property, torts/delicts and commercial law. This distinction is stronger in civil law countries, particularly those with a separate system of administrative courts; by contrast, the public-private law divide is less pronounced in common law jurisdictions.
Law provides a source of scholarly inquiry into legal history, philosophy, economic analysis and sociology. Law also raises important and complex issues concerning equality, fairness, and justice.
The FBI Ten Most Wanted Fugitives is a most wanted list maintained by the United States Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI). The list arose from a conversation held in late 1949 between J. Edgar Hoover, Director of the FBI, and William Kinsey Hutchinson, International News Service (the predecessor of the United Press International) editor-in-chief, who were discussing ways to promote capture of the FBI's "toughest guys". This discussion turned into a published article, which received so much positive publicity that on March 14, 1950, the FBI officially announced the list to increase law enforcement's ability to capture dangerous fugitives.
Individuals are generally only removed from the list if the fugitive is captured, dies, or if the charges against them are dropped; they are then replaced by a new entry selected by the FBI. In ten cases, the FBI removed individuals from the list after deciding that they were no longer a "particularly dangerous menace to society". Machetero member Víctor Manuel Gerena, added to the list in 1984, was on the list for 32 years, which was longer than anyone else. Billie Austin Bryant spent the shortest amount of time on the list, being listed for two hours in 1969. The oldest person to be added to the list was Eugene Palmer on May 29, 2019, at 80 years old. On rare occasions, the FBI will add a "Number Eleven" if that individual is extremely dangerous but the Bureau does not feel any of the current ten should be removed. Despite occasional references in the media, the FBI does not rank their list; no suspect is considered "#1 on the FBI's Most Wanted List" or "The Most Wanted". (more...)
A statute is a formal written enactment of a legislative authority that governs the legal entities of a city, state, or country by way of consent. Typically, statutes command or prohibit something, or declare policy. Statutes are rules made by legislative bodies; they are distinguished from case law or precedent, which is decided by courts, and regulations issued by government agencies.
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Following is an example of a noted statute or comparable written law:
House Bill 444 (abbreviated H.B. 444) was a 2009 bill of the Hawaii State Legislature, passed in April 2010 and vetoed by Governor of Hawaii Linda Lingle, that would have legalized civil unions for couples in the state of Hawaii. Its legislative process was accompanied by controversy over the bill's content and effects and rallies were held by supporters and opponents.
The bill passed the Hawaii House of Representatives in February 2009 in a form specific to same-sex couples, was passed in amended form including opposite-sex couples by the Hawaii Senate in May 2009, and was carried over in the 2010 session, where it passed the Senate again in January 2010 with a veto-proof majority. The bill moved back to the House but was indefinitely postponed by a voice vote initiated by House Speaker Calvin Say, requiring a vote of two-thirds of Representatives to be taken up again in 2010, and was considered dead. In April 2010, on the last day of the legislative session, the House suspended the rules on the Senate bill and passed it with a majority, sending the bill to Governor Linda Lingle, who vetoed it in July 2010.
Hawaii did not allow same-sex marriages or civil unions, but two unmarried people can register for a reciprocal beneficiary relationship, which provides some of the rights and benefits that come with marriage. The bill was written to become law on January 1, 2010, would allow all couples to obtain rights equal to those of married couples, and make Hawaii the only state in the Western United States to allow civil unions instead of domestic partnerships. (more...)
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Case law is the collection of past legal decisions written by courts and similar tribunals in the course of deciding cases, in which the law was analyzed using these cases to resolve ambiguities for deciding current cases. These past decisions are called "case law", or precedent. Stare decisis—a Latin phrase meaning “let the decision stand”—is the principle by which judges are bound to such past decisions. These judicial interpretations are distinguished from statutory law, which are codes enacted by legislative bodies, and regulatory law, which are established by executive agencies based on statutes. In some jurisdictions, case law can be applied to ongoing adjudication; for example, criminal proceedings or family law.
In common law countries (including the United Kingdom, United States, Canada, Australia and New Zealand), the term case law is a near-exact synonym for common law. It is used for judicial decisions of selected appellate courts, courts of first instance, agency tribunals, and other bodies discharging adjudicatory functions.
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For examples of noted cases, see Lists of case law. Following is one example of such a noted case:
Dietrich v The Queen is an important legal case decided in the High Court of Australia on 13 November 1992, stemming from an incident that took place on 17 December 1986. It concerned the nature of the right to a fair trial/and under what circumstances indigent defendants (who cannot afford legal representation) should be provided with legal aid by the state. The case determined that although there is no absolute right to have publicly funded counsel, a judge should grant any request for an adjournment or stay in most circumstances in which an accused is unrepresented. It is an important case in Australian criminal law and in Australian constitutional law since it is one of many cases in which some members of the High Court have found implied human rights in the Australian Constitution. (more...)