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Chapter Twenty- Three: The Texas Judiciary, Law, and Due Process 1.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Twenty- Three: The Texas Judiciary, Law, and Due Process 1."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Twenty- Three: The Texas Judiciary, Law, and Due Process 1

2 Chapter Contents Civil Law and Criminal Law Issues in Civil Law Issues and Elements in Criminal Law Due Process of Law Texas Court Organization Selection of Judges 2

3 Learning Objectives Differentiate between civil and criminal law and identify examples of each. Identify key procedures underlying the concept of due process of law in Texas. 3

4 Learning Objectives (Contd) Describe the organizational structure and functions of the Texas court system. Explain the qualifications and selection process for judges in the various Texas courts. 4

5 What If...Texas Abolished the Death Penalty? Texas leads the nation in executions. There are 331 people on Texass death row. 31 % white 38 % black 30 % Hispanic 1 % members of other ethnic groups 5

6 Evaluating the Death Penalty Reasons why the state punishes criminals. Prevent further crimes Deter future crimes Rehabilitation Justice 6

7 Miscarriages of Justice Eleven wrongfully convicted persons have been released from death row. Substantial evidence of Cameron Todd Willinghams innocence has only developed since he was executed in 2004. 7

8 For Critical Analysis 1.Should other states follow Texass lead in expediting the death penalty or New Mexico's lead in abolishing it? 2.Texas has one of the highest execution rates in the nation, but it also has one of the highest murder rates. Why do states with the death penalty have a higher murder rate than those without? 8

9 Litigation in Texas The Chamber of Commerce ranks Texas as having the 15th worst litigation environment in America. The courts dealt with more than 12 million cases in 2009. 9

10 Civil Law Versus Criminal Law Civil law concerns private rights and remedies and usually involves private parties or organizations. Criminal law involves violations of laws established by the government. 10

11 Civil Law Versus Criminal Law (Contd) In civil cases, whichever party has more evidence or proof on its side should win the case. In a criminal case, the burden of proof falls heavily on the government. Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt 11

12 Civil Law Versus Criminal Law (Contd) 12

13 Issues in Civil Law The Texas legislature passed bills to restrict some lawsuits. Texans approved a constitutional amendment to allow the legislature to limit medical malpractice and other damages. 13

14 The Crime CrimeAn act that violates whatever an authorized body (usually a state legislature) defines as the law. Felonies are serious crimes. Murder Robbery Theft (larceny) 14

15 The Crime Ellis Unit in Huntsville, Texas (Greg Smith/Corbis) 15

16 The Crime (Contd) Table 26–1 Crime and Punishment under the Texas Penal Code 16

17 The Criminal Persons who commit most serious crimes are unwilling to accept the mores of those who write the laws. Lawbreakers are disproportionately young and poor. In some neighborhoods, street gangs offer the only source of approval, protection, and a sense of belonging for their members. 17

18 The Criminal (Contd) Persons under age 17 commit a disproportionate share of crime. Little is done to rehabilitate juvenile offenders. Far more men than women are arrested for crimes. Minority group members are arrested disproportionately for crimes. 18

19 The Criminal (Contd) The poor are more likely to commit violent crimes. Crime is more likely in large metropolitan areas. Drug addiction contributes to crime. White-collar crimes are more likely to be committed by successful businesspersons or professionals. 19

20 The Victim 20

21 The Victim (Contd) White-collar crimes cost victims much more than robberies, burglaries, and thefts. Outrage against crime is directed largely toward violent crimes. Prostitution, gambling, and illegal drug possession are sometimes called victimless crimes. 21

22 The Victim (Contd) The highest rates of victimization are in the poor areas of our cities. Crime is often committed against friends and families of the criminal. Minorities and young people suffer most from crime. 22

23 The Victim (Contd) Victims have the right to be informed of investigations and court proceedings against the accused. They have the right to have their victim- impact statements taken into account during sentencing and parole actions. 23

24 The Victim (Contd) The Crime Victims Compensation Fund is available to victims who have suffered extreme personal hardship resulting from physical injury during a crime. 24

25 The Victim (Contd) 25

26 Politics with a Purpose: Advocating for Victims Rights Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has become one of the most successful grassroots victims advocacy groups in history. Congress made federal highway funding dependent on increasing the drinking age to 21 and reducing the blood alcohol content for DWI.08%. 26

27 Politics with a Purpose: Advocating for Victims Rights (Contd) The Texas legislature also increased penalties for DWI and made it illegal to possess an open alcohol container in a moving vehicle. MADD continues to advocate for strict alcohol enforcement, sobriety checkpoints, and victim impact panels. 27

28 Politics with a Purpose: Advocating for Victims Rights (Contd) Critics have charged that MADD is becoming overbearing. Charity watchdogs have charged that MADD spends too much on fundraising and managerial costs. Despite these criticisms, MADD has served as a role model for the several organizations. 28

29 Due Process of Law The courts must blend two conflicting roles: Protect society according to state concept of right and wrong Protect the rights of the individual charged with wrongdoing. Elaborate traditions of court process and procedure have developed over the centuries. 29

30 Pretrial Court Activities The accused is presented before a justice of the peace or other magistrate for arraignment. The Court explains the charges against the accused. It reminds the suspect of their Miranda rights It sets bail. It informs the accused of the right to an examining trial. 30

31 The Right to Know the Nature of the Accusation The suspect is usually told the charges several times. There must be probable cause for a person to be arrested. If it is determined that a person is being held unlawfully, counsel may secure release by a writ of habeas corpus. 31

32 The Right to Legal Counsel The right to counsel extends to felony cases and serious misdemeanor cases. Indigent defendants may not receive the kind of expert defense they would have if they could afford their own attorney. 32

33 The Right to Bail Bail supports the assumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty. In practice, the right to bail exists only for those who can afford it. 33

34 The Right to an Examining Trial A defendant can request an examining trial in felony cases. A justice of the peace reviews the facts and decides whether the case should be recommended for criminal proceedings. 34

35 Formal Charges The grand jury determines whether the case will be taken to trial. Issues an indictment The right to a grand jury indictment protects innocent citizens against harassment on unjustified charges. A grand jury usually acts as a rubber stamp for the prosecutor. 35

36 Pretrial Hearings At second arraignment, the formal indictment is read and the defendant enters a plea. Other pretrial hearings may concern the possibility of an insanity defense or a change of venue. 36

37 Plea Bargaining Most cases end in a secret bargaining session with the prosecutor (plea bargaining). Prosecuting attorneys usually meet with the accused and offer a deal in exchange for a plea of guilty. 37

38 The Trial (Contd) The first major step in the trial is the selection of a jury. Frequently waived The United States has an adversary system, in which the two parties present evidence in court. 38

39 The Trial (Contd) Each side can challenge the material evidence and cross-examine the witnesses. The burden of proof lies with the state. It is a violation of due process for the government to withhold evidence that could benefit the accused. 39

40 The Trial (Contd) Once the evidence is presented, the judge reads the charge to the jury. The prosecution and defense summarize the case. The jury then decides between verdicts of guilty and not guilty. The jury or judge will decide upon the sentence. 40

41 Posttrial Proceedings A person who is acquitted cannot be tried again for the same offense. May be tried for a related offense Even if a person is found not guilty of a crime, a victim of that crime can sue the defendant. 41

42 Posttrial Proceedings (Contd) A defendant may appeal a guilty verdict. If serious procedural errors are found, the appellate court may return the case to a lower court for retrial. 42

43 Texas Court Organization 43

44 Municipal Courts Municipal courts are set up by cities. Try violations of city ordinances Handle minor violations of state law They are not normally courts of record. The qualifications for judges are set by the city charter or ordinances. Most are appointed for two-year terms Salaries vary widely 44

45 Justices of the Peace Justice of the peace courts have original jurisdiction in misdemeanor cases when the maximum punishment is a fine less than $500. They hear civil matters where the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000. 45

46 Justices of the Peace (Contd) Justices of the peace may also Issue warrants for search and arrest Serve as notaries public Conduct preliminary hearings Perform marriages Serve as coroners Hear cases involving small claims 46

47 Justices of the Peace (Contd) The only qualification to serve as a justice of the peace is to be a registered voter. They must take a course in the performance of the duties of the office. Their salaries vary greatly. The public often regards justices as biased, untrained, and incompetent. 47

48 County Courts Each county has a county court presided over by the county judge. Must be well informed in the law of the state They handle probate and other civil matters in which the amount in dispute is between $200 and $10,000. Their criminal jurisdiction is confined to serious misdemeanors. 48

49 County Courts-at-Law Judges are elected for four-year terms. They have either civil or criminal jurisdiction or a combination of both. Their civil jurisdiction includes cases involving claims of less than $100,000. 49

50 County Courts-at-Law (Contd) Their criminal jurisdiction includes misdemeanors that include a jail sentence or a fine in excess of $500. A court-at-law judge usually must have four years experience as a practicing attorney or judge. 50

51 County Courts-at-Law (Contd) The Courthouses of Tarrant County, Somervell County, Hood County, and Anderson County Photos courtesy of Texas Historical Commission 51

52 District Courts District courts are the chief trial courts of the state. Judge must be At least 25 A resident of the district for two years A citizen of the United States A judge or a practicing attorney for four years Judges are elected for four-year terms. 52

53 District Courts (Contd) District courts have jurisdiction in felony cases. About one-third of their caseloads Civil cases in which the claim exceeds $200 may be tried in district courts. Approximately 69 percent of their workload Juvenile cases are usually tried in district courts. 53

54 District Courts (Contd) Plea bargaining is often used to dispose of criminal cases at this level. Many lawsuits are resolved through negotiated settlements. 54

55 Courts of Appeals Courts of appeals hear appeals in both civil and criminal cases from district- and county-level courts. Appeals judges are elected from their districts for six-year terms. They must be at least 35, with at least 10 years experience as a lawyer or judge. 55

56 Court of Criminal Appeals The Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest appellate court in criminal cases. One presiding judge and 8 other judges Elected statewide for six-year terms They must be at least 35 years old and be lawyers or judges with 10 years experience. 56

57 Court of Criminal Appeals (Contd) It reverses a very small percentage of the cases that it hears. Ordinarily, a reversal means that the case will be retried. It has been criticized for its interpretations of Texas Bill of Rights. It has sole jurisdiction over automatic appeals in death penalty cases. 57

58 Court of Criminal Appeals (Contd) Timothy Cole (AP Photo/Harry Cabluck) 58

59 The State Supreme Court The Texas Supreme Court is the final court of appeals in civil and juvenile cases. One chief justice and 8 associate justices Elected statewide for six-year terms Justices must be at least 35 years of age and a lawyer or judge for at least 10 years. 59

60 The State Supreme Court (Contd) The Texas Supreme Court only takes the cases it views as presenting the most significant legal issues. It also plays a policy-making role in the state. 60

61 Selection of Judges Texas elects its judges in partisan elections. The governor fills vacancies by appointment. Approximately 80 percent of all Texas judges are reelected unopposed. Serious competition is uncommon. 61

62 Selection of Judges (Contd) Voters know little about judicial candidates. Many voters make their choices based on the candidates party affiliation. 62

63 Selection of Judges (Contd) Candidates spend as much money as possible to make their names well known. In recent elections, incumbents to the Supreme Court have raised large sums of money. 63

64 Selection of Judges (Contd) Individuals and organizations often appear before judges after having contributed to their election campaigns. This gives the appearance of possible bias. 64

65 Selection of Judges (Contd) © Ben Sargent. Reprinted by permission of Universal Press Syndicate 65

66 Minority Representation Minorities have increased their representation in the courts. They are still underrepresented. 66

67 You Can Make a Difference: Dealing Intelligently with Law Enforcement Officers in Texas Many students may become involved in the criminal justice process. Any arrest can have serious consequences. If you are arrested, be respectful and obey the officers. Sometimes a polite explanation can prevent a ticket. 67

68 You Can Make a Difference: Dealing Intelligently with Law Enforcement Officers in Texas (Contd) Do not confess guilt or argue your innocence. If you believe a police order is unlawful, politely state your belief. If you are given a ticket, you might be able to take a safe-driving course to absolve your responsibility. Consider obtaining a plea bargain. 68

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