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The Court System Chapter 5. Courts  Trial Courts- two parties Plaintiff- in civil trial is the person bringing the legal action Prosecutor- in criminal.

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Presentation on theme: "The Court System Chapter 5. Courts  Trial Courts- two parties Plaintiff- in civil trial is the person bringing the legal action Prosecutor- in criminal."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Court System Chapter 5

2 Courts  Trial Courts- two parties Plaintiff- in civil trial is the person bringing the legal action Prosecutor- in criminal trial is the government attorney filing and prosecuting the case Defendant- is the person in a civil or criminal trial being brought to trial for their criminal or civil wrong doing

3 The U.S. Adversary System  Defined as a contest between two sides  The belief is that when two opposing parties are able to present their best case of facts, the judge or jury will be able to determine the truth of the matter.

4 Inquisitional System  Inquisitional System- European court system in which the judge controls the court process including gathering and presenting evidence, ordering witnesses to appear, conducting searches, presenting evidence, etc  In the adversary system, these matters are left to the opposing attorneys with the judge and jury based on the arguments and evidence presented

5 Us Adversary System  Opponents argue- it is a battle between lawyers who make every effort not to present all the evidence  Proponents argue- that by presenting facts from totally different perspectives, it will uncover more truth than other methods such as the inquisitional system Problem 5.1

6 Judges and Juries  The Judge presides over the trial while protecting the rights of those involved by insuring that rules of evidence and trial procedures are followed. Nonjury trial- the judge renders a decision of guilt/fault Jury trial- the judge instructs the jury to the applicable laws in the case The right to a jury trial is guaranteed in the sixth and seventh Amendments to the Constitution.

7 6 th Amendment  “In all criminal prosecutions, the accused shall enjoy the right to a speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.”

8 7 th Amendment  In Suits of common law (civil), where the value in controversy shall exceed twenty dollars, the right of trial by jury shall be preserved, and no fact tried by a jury, shall be otherwise re-examined in any Court of the United States, than according to the rules of the common law.

9 Right to jury trial  Criminal Trial- The defendant has the right to decide whether there will be a jury  Civil cases- Either the defendant or the plaintiff may request a trial by jury  The jury has the responsibility of determining the facts and applying the law in a particular case

10 Jury Selection  Jurors are selected by voir dire examination Opposing attorneys (lawyers) question each prospective juror  Removal for cause- Each attorney may request the removal of a juror if they suspect the juror may be prejudice or may have preconceived/bias opinions  Peremptory challenges- Each attorney is allowed to remove a limited amount of jurors without stating a cause Problem 5.2



13 Appeals Courts  One party presents arguments asking the court to review the decision of the trial court  No juries or witnesses  No evidence presented  Only lawyers appear before the judges to make legal arguments.  Not everyone who loses a trial can appeal  Error of Law- is determined when the trial court judge is found to have made a mistake regarding the law

14 Precedent  The opinion of the appeals court sets precedent for similar cases in the future. All lower courts of the area of the decision must follow the precedent made in the opinion  Appellate court cases are usually heard by 3 or more judges in order to have a majority decision Majority Opinion- states the decision of the court Dissenting Opinion- written statement by judge who disagrees with the majority decision Concurring Opinion- written statement that judge agrees with majority decision, but for a different reason than that used to support the majority decision

15 Federal and State Courts  Federal Courts Federal law, Constitutional Issues, Federal criminal cases, bankruptcy, 94 Judicial Districts 12 Regional Circuits, each of which has a court of appeals Court of appeals for the federal circuit- jurisdiction is defined by subject matter  Appeals from US court of International trade, claims against the federal government, U.S. patent and trademarks, U.S. tax court, veterans affairs  State Courts Family, traffic, small claims, juvenile. probate (County) Superior Courts


17 Tribal Courts  Govern laws on Native American reservations No longer independent sovereign territories with complete authority  Criminal Sentencing is limited to imprisonment for no more than one year (misdemeanor) and no more than a $5,000 fine.  They no longer have the authority to try non-Native Americans for crimes on the reservations  The federal government has jurisdiction over most felonies committed on the reservation  The tribal court’s authority is very broad regarding civil matters

18 Supreme Court  Does not accept all appeals brought to it  Each year, approximately 8,000 cases are appealed to the Supreme Court, and approximately 80 cases are heard with written decisions made  The party that appeals to the Supreme Court is usually the losing party in a federal circuit court of appeals or a state supreme court- both parties submit court briefs to the Supreme Court, if the courts decide to hear the case.  The Solicitor General’s Office represents the United States in Court

19 Supreme Court (continued)  The court’s term begins the first Monday of October and final decisions on cases are argued and handed down by the end of June  The nine US Supreme Court Justices are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate for a life term  Many of societies most controversial issues are heard by the Supreme Court  Has the power to reverse rules of law established earlier in prior cases if the same issue comes before it again in a new case based on societies change of view.

20 Problem 5.5 Gideon Vs. Wainwright Problem 5.6: Who should be on the Supreme Court

21 International Courts  Established by the United Nations and other international organizations International Court of Justice  Location: The Hague in the Netherlands  Hears cases of international law which any country may submit International Criminal Court  Created by the UN in 1998, and began operating in 2003  Hears cases of genocide, crimes against humanity, war crimes, and crimes of aggression  U.S. opposed ratification, but signed by 80 other countries Problem 5.7

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