The Massachusetts Legal System

This course will explore elements of the law and legal system in Massachusetts, including the common law, the structure of government and generation of laws, the court system, the judges, the legal profession, how trials work. Intended for non-lawyers, will develop an understanding of the functions, structure, operation and shortfalls of the legal system of this state, for those considering legal careers or otherwise anticipating interaction with the legal system.

We will cover the following:

1. Overview of law, courts and the legal system
2. What is “the Law”?: some theories
3. The Common Law
4. Government and the creation of laws
5. Legislation: Statutes
6. Executive: Regulations
7. The state court System
8. The Supreme Judicial Court
9. Trial Courts
10. What is a trial?
11. Criminal Courts
12. Civil Actions
13. What do lawyers do?
14. What is “discovery”?
15. Imprisonment
16. Ethics and Accountability
17. Access to justice
18. Race and justice
19. Who are the lawyers?
20. Who are the judges?
21. Law and social conflict
22. Federalism and the courts

Bob Hernandez

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