Statutory or written law that governs the rights and obligations of everyone within its jurisdiction. It defines crimes and punishments, as well as civil rights and responsibilities. Compare: procedural law
An act performed by a government employee following explicit instructions in a statute or other legal authority, or directions given from a superior, without exercising any discretion or independent judgment.
A doctrine of interpretation by which a court finds that qualifying words or phrases refer to the language immediately preceding the qualifier, unless common sense shows that it was meant to apply to something more distant or less obvious. For example, in the phrase "the commercial vehicular license shall not apply to boats, tractors, and trucks under three tons, " the qualifier "under three tons" applies only to trucks and not to boats or tractors.
So-called Defense of Marriage laws define marriage as a relationship between one man and one woman, for the purpose of excluding same-sex couples from the institution of marriage. The federal DOMA prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex legal relationships entered into in one of the states that recognize same-sex unions. Individual states' DOMA laws provide that those states do not allow same-sex marriage and, often, do not recognize same-sex unions from other states.
The laws of the state which will be relied upon in interpreting or judging disputes involving a contract, trust, or other documents. Quite often an agreement will state as one of its provisions that the controlling law will be that of a particular state.
To determine the meaning of a written document, statute, or legal decision, based upon rules of legal interpretation.
The act of interpreting and giving meaning to a statute, law, contract, or will when there is some ambiguity or question about its meaning. Strict, or narrow, construction means considering only the literal words, whereas broad, or liberal, construction, means taking into account societal and situational meanings to the language.
A court case that presents a new question or issue for legal interpretation (or at least new within that court's jurisdiction). For example, the question may concern recently passed or rarely used legislation. In making its decision, the court may consider -- but is not bound by -- decisions from other state or federal courts or commentaries by legal scholars, as well as the arguments and briefs submitted by lawyers in the case.
The law based on judicial opinions (including decisions that interpret statutes), as opposed to law based on statutes, regulations, or other sources. Also refers to the collection of reported judicial decisions within a particular jurisdiction dealing with a specific issue or topic.