What is General Law?
The American Heritage Dictionary defines “general law” as a system of rules that are established and enforced by governmental or social institutions to promote social welfare. It was developed after the revolution to supplement the Articles of Union. The framers did not want a patchwork of laws for citizens to obey. They wanted a uniform rule that all citizens would follow. The problem, of course, is how to draw the line when there are so many conflicting interests among citizens who may have very different goals. The U.S. Supreme Court has recognized this in several cases over the years.
The most cited example is the Supreme Court’s Citizens’ United vs. Federal Trade Commission decision. In that case, the high court ruled unanimously in favor of a group of Washington State consumers who were denied access to credit when they applied for a small business loan. The consumer group argued that the credit provider was charging them unfair fees and that they had not been provided with adequate information when applying for the loan. In rejecting their petition, the high court said that the lower court had no power to rule on whether the financial institution was charging unfair fees. This is the general rule of law known as substantive due process.
The Citizens’ United ruling is not the only one that will affect you if you’re pursuing litigation today. There are currently cases before the U.S. Supreme Court that deal with substantive issues that involve workers’ compensation, collective bargaining, and voting rights. All three of these cases have been decided on narrow grounds but the arguments have moved far beyond the lower courts to reach the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is general law concerned with? If you want to sue someone, you need to start out by filing a complaint in a civil court, either in county court or a special civil court called a “micro-petition.” A micro-petition” is a petition that is filed less than 100 signatures, so that the matter does not pass the “judicial review” threshold that would make it eligible for a petition to the U.S. Supreme Court.
What is criminal law concerned? Criminal law involves punishment, which is always applied at the time of the commission of the crime. Specifically, this law concerns crimes such as murder, manslaughter, arson, assault, DUI/DWI, sex crimes, kidnapping, embezzlement, fraud, conspiracy, theft, hit and run, and hit and run laws. Practicing law has more to do with criminal law than civil law.
What is intellectual property? Intellectual property means anything you own or control that contains your name, including but not limited to publications, patents, copyrights, designs, trade secrets, and services (such as programming and computer services). Intellectual property law is designed to benefit the owner(s) of these items. For example, a designer creates a new style of furniture and the government allows him to patent his design so that anyone who wants to build furniture in his image can do so. Otherwise, the designer would be able to use the government’s patent as a license to steal the original design.