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#140 Understanding the Legal System

mp3 #140 Understanding the Legal System (mp3 file)

The State Bar of California publishes a 73 page pamphlet called "A guide to Legal Literacy, Understanding the United States’ Legal System" which is available for free online at From the homepage, click "Public Services" then "Consumer Information" then "Pamphlets".

The pamphlet describes the legal system in clear language for non-lawyers. It answers such basic questions as these:

---Where Do Laws Come From?

---How Do Cases Come To Court?

---What Are The Different Types Of Courts?

---What Are The Stages Of Criminal And Civil Cases Before Trial?

---What Happens During A Trial?

---What Is The Attorney's Role?

---What Are The Roles Of Judges And Juries?

---What Are The Types Of Verdicts In A Trial?

---What Are Appeals After A Trial?

---How Is The Legal System Changed?

The pamphlet also includes brief and simple definitions of 150 common legal terms, from "capital crimes" to "hung juries." Reading this pamphlet will not be the same as graduating from law school, but it will help you to understand how the legal system works, and if you ever become involved in legal proceedings, it will help you to be better informed.

The pamphlet is written by Dr. Erwin Chemerinsky, a law professor at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles and was first published in 1993.

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