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To hear and decide judicially; to judge

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administrative agency

a federal, state, or local government agency established to perform a specific function

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administrative law

The body of law created by administrative agencies in order to carry out their duties and responsibilities.

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administrative law judge (ALJ)

One who presides over an administrative agency hearing and has the power to administer oaths, take testimony, rule on questions of evidence, and make determinations of fact.

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administrative process

The procedure used by administrative agencies in the administration of law.

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To state, recite, assert, or charge.

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binding authority

any source of law that a court must follow when deciding a case

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case law

The rules of law announced in court decisions. Case law interprets statutes, regulations, constitutional provisions, and other case law.

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case on point

A previous case involving factual circumstances and issues that are similar to those in the case before the court.

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A reference to a publication in which a legal authority—such as a statute or a court decision—or other source can be found.

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civil law

The branch of law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.

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civil law system

A system of law derived from Roman law that is based on codified laws (rather than on case precedents).

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common law

The body of law developed from custom or judicial decisions in English and U.S. courts, not attributable to a legislature.

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concurring opinion

A court opinion by one or more judges or justices who agree with the majority but want to make or emphasize a point that was not made or emphasized in the majority's opinion.

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constitutional law

Law that involves the interpretation and application of the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions

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criminal law

The branch of law that defines and punishes wrongful actions committed against the public.

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An informal term used to refer to all laws governing electronic communications and transactions, particularly those conducted via the Internet.

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One against whom a lawsuit is brought, or the accused person in a criminal proceeding.

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dissenting opinion

A court opinion that presents the views of one or more judges or justices who disagree with the majority's decision.

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enabling legislation

A statute enacted by Congress that authorizes the creation of an administrative agency and specifies the name, composition, purpose, and powers of the agency being created.

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equitable maxims

General propositions or principles of law that have to do with fairness (equity).

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historical school

A school of legal thought that looks to the past to determine what the principles of contemporary law should be.

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international law

The law that governs relations among nations.

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interpretive rules

Non-binding rules or policy statements issued by an administrative agency that explain how it interprets and intends to apply the statutes it enforces.

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the science or philosophy of law

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A body of enforceable rules governing relationships among individuals and between individuals and their society.

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legal positivism

A school of legal thought centered on the assumption that there is no law higher than the laws created by a national government. Laws must be obeyed, even if they are unjust, to prevent anarchy.

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legal realism

A school of legal thought that holds that the law is only one factor to be considered when deciding cases, and that social and economic circumstances should also be taken into account.

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legal reasoning

The process of reasoning by which a judge harmonizes his or her decision with the judicial decisions of previous cases.

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legislative rules

An administrative agency rule that carries the same weight as a congressionally enacted statute.

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The state of being legally responsible (liable) for something, such as a debt or obligation.

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majority opinion

A court opinion that represents the views of the majority (more than half) of the judges or justices deciding the case.

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national law

Law that pertains to a particular nation (as opposed to international law).

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natural law

The oldest school of legal thought, based on the belief that the legal system should reflect universal ("higher") moral and ethical principles that are inherent in human nature.

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A regulation enacted by a city or county legislative body that becomes part of that city's or county's statutory law.

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per curiam opinion

A court opinion that does not indicate which judge or justice authored the opinion.

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persuasive authority

Any legal authority or source of law that a court may look to for guidance but need not follow when making its decision.

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One who initiates a lawsuit.

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plurality opinion

A court opinion that is joined by the largest number of the judges or justices hearing the case, but less than half of the total number.

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A court decision that furnishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts.

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primary source of law

A source that establishes the law on a particular issue, such as a constitution, a statute, an administrative rule, or a court decision.

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procedural law

Law that establishes the methods of enforcing the rights established by substantive law.

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The relief given to an innocent party to enforce a right or compensate for the violation of a right.

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The process by which an administrative agency formally adopts a new regulation or amends or removes an old one.

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secondary source of law

A publication that summarizes or interprets the law, such as a legal encyclopedia, a legal treatise, or an article in a law review.

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stare decisis

A common law doctrine under which judges are obligated to follow the precedents established in prior decisions.

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statutory law

The body of law enacted by legislative bodies (as opposed to constitutional law, administrative law, or case law).

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substantive law

Law that defines, describes, regulates, and creates legal rights and obligations.

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uniform laws

Model laws developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws for the states to consider enacting into statute.

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Bill of Rights

The first ten amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

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checks and balances

The system under which the powers of the federal government are divided among three separate branches—the executive, legislative, and judicial branches—each of which exercises a check on the actions of the others.

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commerce clause

The clause in the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 1) that gives Congress the power to regulate all business activities that cross state lines or affect more than one state or other nations.

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compelling government interest

A test of constitutionality that requires the government to have compelling reasons for passing any law that restricts fundamental rights, such as free speech, or distinguishes between people based on a suspect trait.

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due process clause

The provisions in the Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments that guarantee that no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, or property without due process of law. State constitutions often include similar clauses.

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equal protection clause

The provision in the Fourteenth Amendment that requires state governments to treat similarly situated individuals in a similar manner.

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establishment clause

The provision in the First Amendment that prohibits the government from establishing any state-sponsored religion or enacting any law that promotes religion or favors one religion over another.

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federal form of government

A system of government in which the states form a union and the sovereign power is divided between the central government and the member states.

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filtering software

A computer program that is designed to block access to certain Web sites, based on their content. The software blocks the retrieval of a site whose URL or key words are on a list within the program.

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free exercise clause

The provision in the First Amendment that prohibits the government from interfering with people's religious practices or forms of worship.

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full faith and credit clause

A provision in Article IV, Section 1, of the U.S. Constitution that ensures that rights established under deeds, wills, contracts, and similar instruments in one state will be honored by other states and that judicial decisions will be honored and enforced in all states.

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meta tags

Key words in a document that can serve as an index reference to the document. On the Web, search engines return results based, in part, on the tags in Web documents.

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police powers

Powers possessed by the states as part of their inherent sovereignty. These powers may be exercised to protect or promote the public order, health, safety, morals, and general welfare.

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A doctrine under which certain federal laws preempt, or take precedence over, conflicting state or local laws.

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privileges and immunities clause

Article IV, Section 2, of the U.S. Constitution requires states not to discriminate against one another's citizens. A resident of one state, when in another state, cannot be denied the privileges and immunities of citizens of that state.

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The power of a state to do what is necessary to govern itself. Individual state sovereignty is determined by the U.S. Constitution.

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supremacy clause

The provision in Article VI of the U.S. Constitution that the Constitution, laws, and treaties of the United States are "the supreme Law of the Land."

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symbolic speech

Nonverbal expressions of beliefs. Symbolic speech, which includes gestures, movements, and articles of clothing, is given substantial protection by the courts.

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The organizational structure, consisting of government bureaus and agencies, through which the government implements and enforces the laws.

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delegation doctrine

A doctrine based on the U.S. Constitution, which has been construed to allow Congress to delegate some of its power to administrative agencies to make and implement laws.

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exhaustion doctrine

In administrative law, the principle that a complaining party normally must have exhausted all available administrative remedies before seeking judicial review.

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final order

The final decision of an administrative agency on an issue.

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initial order

An agency's disposition in a matter other than a rulemaking. An administrative law judge's initial order becomes final unless it is appealed.

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notice-and-comment rulemaking

An administrative rulemaking procedure that requires notice, opportunity for comment, and a published draft of the final rule.

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business ethics

The application of moral principles and values in a business context.

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categorical imperative

An ethical guideline developed by Immanuel Kant under which an action is evaluated in terms of what would happen if everybody else in the same situation, or category, acted the same way.

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corporate social responsibility (CSR)

The idea that corporations can and should act ethically and be accountable to society for their actions.

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cost-benefit analysis

A decision-making technique that involves weighing the costs of a given action against the benefits of that action.

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duty-based ethics

An ethical philosophy rooted in the idea that every person (and every business) has certain duties to others, including both humans and the planet.

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ethical reasoning

A reasoning process in which individuals link their moral convictions or ethical standards to the situation at hand.

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Moral principles and values applied to social behavior.

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moral minimum

The minimum level of ethical behavior expected by society, which is usually defined as compliance with the law.

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outcome-based ethics

An ethical philosophy that focuses on consequences of any given action in order to maximize benefits and minimize harms.

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The practice by which a company hires an outside firm or individual to perform work rather than hiring employees to do it.

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principle of rights

The belief that human beings have certain fundamental rights.

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Groups that are affected by corporate decisions. Stakeholders include employees, customers, creditors, suppliers, and the community in which the corporation operates.

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triple bottom line

A measure that includes a corporation's profits, its impact on people, and its impact on the planet.

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An approach to ethical reasoning in which an action is evaluated in terms of its consequences for those whom it will affect. A "good" action is one that results in the greatest good for the greatest number of people.

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alternative dispute resolution (ADR)

The resolution of disputes in ways other than those involved in the traditional judicial process, such as negotiation, mediation, and arbitration.

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Procedurally, a defendant's response to the plaintiff's complaint.

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The settling of a dispute by submitting it to a disinterested third party (other than a court), who renders a decision.

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arbitration clause

A clause in a contract that provides that, in the event of a dispute, the parties will submit the dispute to arbitration rather than litigate the dispute in court.

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The monetary compensation given to a party at the end of a trial or other proceeding.

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bankruptcy court

A federal court of limited jurisdiction that handles only bankruptcy proceedings, which are governed by federal bankruptcy law.

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A written summary or statement prepared by one side in a lawsuit to explain its case to the judge.

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The pleading made by a plaintiff alleging wrongdoing on the part of the defendant. When filed with a court, the complaint initiates a lawsuit.

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concurrent jurisdiction

Jurisdiction that exists when two different courts have the power to hear a case.

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A claim made by a defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In effect, the defendant is suing the plaintiff.

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default judgment

A judgment entered by a court against a defendant who has failed to appear in court to answer or defend against the plaintiff's claim.

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The testimony of a party to a lawsuit or a witness taken under oath before a trial.

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A method by which the opposing parties obtain information from each other to prepare for trial.

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