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Intro to Judicial Branch


Intro to Judicial Branch Civil vs. Criminal Cases Civil Cases Relations between private citizens. (corporate citizens) 81 year old woman awarded millions of dollars ... – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Intro to Judicial Branch

Intro to Judicial Branch
Civil vs. Criminal Cases
  • Civil Cases
  • Relations between private citizens. (corporate

81 year old woman awarded millions of dollars for
spilling her coffee on her self
Criminal Cases
  • Criminal Cases
  • Criminal law regulates individual conduct. Laws,
    state or federal, determine what is legal or
  • Most laws are states but some are federal.
  • Kidnapping or Bank robbing (federal)

Some crimes are considered against society and
the government is usually the plaintiff in
Criminal Cases
The People of the State of California v. Michael
A Few Criminal Definitions
  • Felony- one of the several grave crimes, like
    murder, rape or burglary, aggravated assault,
    punishable by a harsher sentence than a
  • Simple battery/assault vs. aggravated- simple is
    when you make intentional contact of an insulting
    or provoking nature when you cause intentional
    harm to another.
  • Aggravated- when a person attempts to cause
    serious bodily injury to another purposefully
    with little regard for the value of human life.
    (intent to murder, rape, or with a weapon)
  • Misdemeanor- a misdeed, an offense less serious
    than a felony. Generally punishable by a fine,
    penalty or imprisonment.
  • Capital Offense- a crime so serious that capital
    punishment is considered appropriate.

Drugs and the Law
  • Possession of Less than an Ounce- Felony or not?
  • In most instances, possession of less than on
    ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor. However, its
    possible to possess less than an ounce and still
    be guilty of a felony- if you intend to sell or
    distribute it, even sharing a joint with a
    friend- felony
  • If possess more than an ounce, sell or grow or
    intend to distribute any quantity of marijuana,
    you can go to prison for 10 years.

There are many Lawsuits and Crimes.
  • But most cases never get to court.
  • Most Civil Disputes are Settled out of Court
  • Most Criminal Cases are settled due to plea
    bargains or dismissals
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  • There are 2 separate court systems in the US.
  • National
  • State most cases heard today are heard in state
    courts, not National courts.

2 Types of Federal Courts
  • The Constitution creates the first, and Congress
    creates the inferior federal courts.
  • Two types of inferior courts- Constitutional and
    Special Courts.

Supreme Court
Special Courts- US Court of Federal Claims,
Territorial Courts, Courts of the District of
Columbia, US Tax Court, US Court of Appeals for
the Armed Forces, US Court of Appeals for Veterans
Constitutional Courts- District Courts, 12 US
Courts of Appeals, US Court of International
Trade and US Court of Appeals for the Federal
  • Jurisdiction- the authority of a court to hear a
    case (most cases tried in Federal Courts, happen
    in the Constitutional Courts)
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction- these cases can only be
    heard in federal courts.
  • Concurrent Jurisdiction- cases that can be tried
    in either federal or state courts.
  • Original Jurisdiction- court in which a case is
    first heard.
  • Appellate jurisdiction- court that hears a case
    on appeal from the lower court, can uphold,
    overrule or modify the lower court decision.

District Courts
  • District Courts are federal trial courts.
  • Have original jurisdiction over most cases that
    are heard in federal courts.
  • They hear criminal (broke the law) and civil
    cases (non criminal matters, like territorial
  • Most cases heard here are final, but some are
    appealed to the court of appeals or directly to
    the Supreme Court.

Appeals Court
  • Gate keepers- to relieve the Supreme Court of to
    much burden of hearing lower court appeals.
  • There are a total of 12 Courts of Appeals in the
  • They only have appellate jurisdiction. Most cases
    they hear come from the US Federal courts, but
    some do come from the special courts.
  • Their decisions are final unless the Supreme
    Court chooses to hear appeals taken from them.

Dual US Court System
Supreme Court
Highest State Court
State Appellate Court
US Court of Appeals
US District Courts
State Trial Court
Becoming a Federal Judge
  • Candidates for federal judgeships are suggested
    to the president by the Justice department,
    senators, other judges, the candidates and
    lawyers and interest groups.
  • President considers their experience, political
    philosophy and ethnicity.
  • President makes the nomination, goes to the
    Senate, the Senate confirms or reject, decision
    made by the Senate Judiciary Committee.

The Supreme Court
Judicial Review
  • Most courts, both federal and state, may exercise
    the important power of judicial review.
  • The power to decide if an act of government is
    constitutional or not.
  • The Supreme Court has the ultimate say in this
  • Judicial Review isnt mentioned in the
    constitution, derives from Marbury vs. Madison.
  • Marbury had been appointed as a justice of the
    Peace by President Adams, senate confirmed him
    but his orders werent delivered. The next day
    Jefferson became President and refused to deliver
  • Marbury went to the Supreme Court who ruled
  • NOT IN FAVOR OF MARBURY because the law he based
    his argument on, the Judiciary Act of 1789, the
    court found to be unconstitutional and therefore
  • From this point on, the Supreme Court ha the
    power to declare acts of Congress

SC Jurisdiction
  • Has both original and appellate jurisdiction.
    Most of its cases come from appeals from the
    lower federal courts or the highest state courts.
  • Article III, sec 2 spells out what two cases can
    be heard by the SC.
  • Those to which a state is a party
  • Those affecting ambassadors, other public
    ministers and consuls.
  • Over 8000 cases appeal to the SC each year, but
    the SC only hears a few hundreds a year.
  • Rule of 4 gets a case on the docket
  • Most cases reach the SC by writ of certiorari

The Rule of Four
  • If four justices vote to grant cert, it is
  • Designed to prevent tyranny of the majority
  • If a case does not gain four votes, a justice may
    write a dissent from denial, but this is
    extremely rare.
  • All votes are secret
  • Deny cases usually because they agree with the
    lower courts decision or they think no important
    point of law is involved.

Writ of Certiorari
  • The Supreme Court is mainly an APPELATE COURT
  • If you want the Supreme Court to review your
    court case, you will need to have the supreme
    court grant you a
  • An order issued by a higher court to a lower
    court to send up the record of a case for review.

95 cases are granted a Writ of Cert each year
Original Jurisdiction
80 of cases accepted come from federal system
lt1 of cases accepted are original jurisdiction
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals 12 circuits
Federal Circuit
State Supreme Court highest state court
Intermediate Appeals Court
U.S. District Court 94 districts Federal Trials
Trial Courts municipal or county Local Trials
FEDERAL 1 million cases/yr
STATES 30 million cases/yr
The Supreme Court
  • The court sits from the first Monday in October
    to sometimes the following June/July.
  • Once the SC accepts a case, it sets a date for
    the case to be heard.
  • They hear oral arguments on cases for 2 weeks,
    lawyers are limited to 30 min a piece and then
    take 2 weeks to consider those cases and make
  • Briefs must be filed before oral arguments begin,
    detailed statements supporting one side of a
  • Twice a week the Justices meet in conference and
    they consider the cases they have heard.
  • 1/3 of the courts decisions are unanimous but
    most find the court divided.
  • OPINIONS- The courts opinion is called the
    majority opinion, announces the courts decision
    and reasoning/precedent. Dissenting opinions are
    also written by justices not supporting the

Elected by the President, confirmed by the
Senate, appointed for LIFE. Most SC justices
were previously judges or worked in the legal
system. One Chief Justice- John Roberts- head
of the other 9 justices and head of the
bureaucracy that runs the court systems. Oversees
the 5.5 billion dollar justice budget
Restraint or Active?
  • SC Justices are usually characterized by either
    being activist or restraintist.
  • Judicial Restraint- a doctrine holding that the
    Supreme court should defer to the decisions made
    by the elected representatives of the people in
    the legislative and executive branches. Usually
    linked with conservatism.
  • Judicial Activism- a doctrine holding that the
    Supreme Court should take an active role in using
    its powers to check the activities of the other
    branches or bodies who exceed their authority.
    Usually linked with liberalism.
  • Most active period has been under Judge Earl
    Warren during the Civil Rights movement.

Checks on the Supreme Court
  • Executive Branch is in charge of implementing
    laws- judicial implementation- the enforcement of
    judicial decisions in a way that they translate
    into policy.
  • President rarely does, but can refuse to enforce
    a Supreme Court decision. It means a huge loss of
    political support from the people, so it is rare.
  • More commonly Presidents appoint new judges and
    justices as seats become vacant that will rule in
    their political philosophy favor.
  • Legislative Branch- courts make rulings but it is
    up to Congress to give funds to carry out the
    courts rulings.
  • Court Rulings can also be overturned by
    constitutional amendments at both the federal and
    state levels (the 14th, 15th and 26th amendments
    are examples)
  • Finally Congress can rewrite laws or enact new
    ones to overturn the SC rulings if the
    legislature concludes that the courts rulings if
    the legislature concludes that the court is
    interpreting laws or intentions erroneously.