The United States Legal Counsel Becomes Guest Lecturer on the American Legal System

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The Public Lecture Series guest lecture was held again on Wednesday (16/11/2022) in Room 303, Building A Faculty of Law, Universitas Airlangga (FH UNAIR). This time, Tomika N. S. Patterson, Permanent Legal Counsel for the United States Department of Justice, Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT), is visiting the guest lecture for this edition of the State Administrative Judicial Procedure course. Tomika Patterson presented “The American Legal System and Economic Crime”.


She explained the establishment of the Overseas Prosecutorial Development Assistance and Training (OPDAT), or what is known as the Development, Assistance and Training Office for the Foreign Attorney Field. The purpose of the OPDAT’s creation in 1991 was to help prosecutors and judicial personnel develop and support effective criminal justice institutions in other countries. OPDAT offers programs tailored to the needs of the justice sector of a particular country or region. So far, OPDAT has resolved various cases such as terrorism, corruption, trafficking in persons, drugs, and the environment.


Apart from explaining the OPDAT, she also explained the United States’ legal system. Sources of law in the United States include the United States Constitution, Statutes, Rules of Procedure, Ordinances, and Jurisprudence (case law). In the United States legal system, Congress submits Bills which are then passed and promulgated separately as the Common Law. The Common Law is organized by date and year in the Statutes at Large and is organized by topic in the United States Constitution.


Tomika also explained the institutions of power in the United States and the judicial system in the United States. The division of powers in the United States is divided into executive, legislative, and judicial. The executive consists of the President, Vice President and Cabinet. The legislature consists of the Congress, the Senate, and the House of Representatives. The judiciary consists of the Supreme Court and the Federal Court. Specifically for executive orders in the United States legal system issued by the President and addressed to federal government agencies. Executive orders have the final force of law and must be based on Federal Law or the Constitution. Executive orders are also subject to judicial review and can be overturned if a court finds that Federal Law or the Constitution does not support the executive order.


Meanwhile, the United States Federal court system gives power to only one judicial institution, namely the Supreme Court, and to lower Courts such as Congress, which from time to time can regulate and determine. The United States court system is known as the dual court system, which consists of two courts: the Federal Court and the State Court. The legal framework for United States trials draws on the United States Code of Conduct, the Federal Criminal Procedure Code, the Federal Law of Evidence, jurisprudence, and local court rules, regulations, and practice.


At the end of her lecture, Tomika conveyed the procedures for becoming a lawyer in the United States. After graduating from a four-year undergraduate degree, aspiring lawyers must take the Law School Admission Test (LSAT). After graduating from the LSAT, she took law school, then took the bar exam and joined an advocate organization.

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