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Federal and State Legal Systems

The United States distributes power horizontally among the three branches of government: judicial, legislative, and executive. Understanding the structure of these branches is important when conducting legal research because it provides you with a working knowledge of their processes, how their decisions affect public policy, and where and how to locate legal documents.

In this week’s Learning Resources, links for the three branches of the federal government are listed. Please note that the U.S. legislature has a website for each house of Congress: the United States Senate and the House of Representatives. Although most states have bicameral legislatures—a legislature consisting of two houses like the U.S. Congress, it is possible that your state maintains only one website for its legislature.

For this Discussion, you are going to practice your research skills by engaging in a scavenger hunt. Begin by building on the knowledge that you have of the legal system and then explore the resources provided in the weekly readings. Use LexisNexis Academic to practice searching topics: http://www.lexisnexis.com.ezp.waldenulibrary.org/hottopics/lnacademic/

With these thoughts in mind:

Post by Day 3 the findings from the Legal Research Scavenger Hunt:

  1. Find a state case in the state where you reside that has been appealed (within the last three years) and give the name of the appellee and the appellant. If you reside outside of the United States, select a state listed in the resources for the purpose of this exercise.
  2. Using LexisNexis, give the name of a case reporter in your state.
  3. Write the full legal citation for a case recently decided in your state by an intermediate appeals court or the highest appeals court.
  4. Who is the chief judge of the trial court in your state? Give his or her name.
  5. List the name of a legal case in your state that cited a federal statute or federal regulation in its opinion. State the full name of the legal case and the statute or regulation that was cited.
  6. Name a U.S. court that is similar to your state court and explain the similarities and dissimilarities.
  7. Name one politically appointed position in your state, the name of the individual who currently holds that position, and the length of time they have in that position (if applicable).

Support your response using the Learning Resources and other scholarly resources.


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