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Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 The Federal and State Court Systems.

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Presentation on theme: "Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 The Federal and State Court Systems."— Presentation transcript:

1 Q UINCY COLLEGE Paralegal Studies Program Paralegal Studies Program Legal Research & Writing LAW-215 The Federal and State Court Systems

2 The Federal and State Court Systems In this unit, we will learn how to: In this unit, we will learn how to: Explain the federal and state court systems Explain the federal and state court systems Categorize the hierarchy of cases within a given court structure Categorize the hierarchy of cases within a given court structure

3 The U.S. Federal Court System

4 Judicial Power Article III of the U.S. Constitution creates the Supreme Court and permits Congress to create lower federal courts. Article III of the U.S. Constitution creates the Supreme Court and permits Congress to create lower federal courts. Federal courts have two key functions: Federal courts have two key functions: Adjudication -- Federal courts hear civil and criminal cases within their jurisdiction. Adjudication -- Federal courts hear civil and criminal cases within their jurisdiction. Judicial Review -- Federal courts can declare a statute or governmental action unconstitutional. Judicial Review -- Federal courts can declare a statute or governmental action unconstitutional.

5 Ground Rules for Cases The “cases and controversies” clause in Article III of the U.S. Constitution limits Federal courts to the resolution of actual controversies: The “cases and controversies” clause in Article III of the U.S. Constitution limits Federal courts to the resolution of actual controversies: Mootness – The Federal courts will not consider issues that are already resolved. Mootness – The Federal courts will not consider issues that are already resolved. Advisory Opinions – The Federal courts will not give advice to the executive or legislative branches. Advisory Opinions – The Federal courts will not give advice to the executive or legislative branches. Standing – The Federal courts will not hear a case where the Plaintiff himself has not been adversely affected by some conduct of the Defendant. Standing – The Federal courts will not hear a case where the Plaintiff himself has not been adversely affected by some conduct of the Defendant.

6 Federal Jurisdiction Federal Question Jurisdiction: Any case that arises under the United States Constitution, a United States law, or any treaty to which the United States is a party. Federal Question Jurisdiction: Any case that arises under the United States Constitution, a United States law, or any treaty to which the United States is a party. Diversity Jurisdiction: Federal courts may hear cases in civil actions between (1) citizens of different states where the amount in question is >$75,000, and (2) citizens of a state and citizens of a foreign nation. Diversity Jurisdiction: Federal courts may hear cases in civil actions between (1) citizens of different states where the amount in question is >$75,000, and (2) citizens of a state and citizens of a foreign nation.

7 Federal Jurisdiction Exclusive Jurisdiction: Where by Federal law, no courts other than the Federal courts have jurisdiction over a subject – e.g., bankruptcy, maritime, copyright and patent infringement. Exclusive Jurisdiction: Where by Federal law, no courts other than the Federal courts have jurisdiction over a subject – e.g., bankruptcy, maritime, copyright and patent infringement. Concurrent Jurisdiction: Where both the Federal and state courts have the power to deal with the same case – e.g., where the Defendant’s actions have violated both a Federal and a state law. Concurrent Jurisdiction: Where both the Federal and state courts have the power to deal with the same case – e.g., where the Defendant’s actions have violated both a Federal and a state law.

8 Federal Jurisdiction Removal: In cases of concurrent jurisdiction, a case originally filed in a state court may be removed to Federal District Court by the Defendant. (28 U.S.C. § 1441) Removal: In cases of concurrent jurisdiction, a case originally filed in a state court may be removed to Federal District Court by the Defendant. (28 U.S.C. § 1441) Remand: If it appears that a Federal District Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case must b e remanded or returned to the state court. (28 U.S.C. § 1447) Remand: If it appears that a Federal District Court lacks subject matter jurisdiction, the case must b e remanded or returned to the state court. (28 U.S.C. § 1447)

9 Trial Courts Trial Courts United States District Courts are the primary trial courts in the federal system. United States District Courts are the primary trial courts in the federal system. The nation is divided into about 94 districts (based on population), each with its own District Court. The nation is divided into about 94 districts (based on population), each with its own District Court. There are also specialized trial courts, such as Bankruptcy Court and Tax Court. There are also specialized trial courts, such as Bankruptcy Court and Tax Court. Appellate Courts Appellate Courts United States Courts of Appeals are the intermediate courts of appeals. The nation is divided into circuits. United States Courts of Appeals are the intermediate courts of appeals. The nation is divided into circuits. The highest appeals court is the United States Supreme Court. The highest appeals court is the United States Supreme Court. The Federal Court System

10 United States Supreme Court United States Supreme Court Nine Justices; appointed for life; may refuse to hear a case; final authority Three judges hear each case, brought up from the District Courts. Hears appeals from specialized trial courts. U.S. Tax Courts U.S. Tax Courts U.S. District Courts (94 Districts) U.S. District Courts (94 Districts) U.S. Bankruptcy Courts U.S. Bankruptcy Courts Various Federal Agencies Various Federal Agencies Primary Trial Court Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction U.S. Court of International Trade U.S. Court of International Trade U.S. Court of Federal Claims U.S. Court of Federal Claims U.S.C.A. for the Armed Forces U.S.C.A. for the Armed Forces Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit U.S. Court Of Appeals (12 Circuits) U.S. Court Of Appeals (12 Circuits) Lower Appeals Courts Highest Appeals Court

11 Geographic Boundaries of United States Courts of Appeals and United States District Courts DC Fed

12  Bankruptcy Courts, Tax Courts, Court of International Trade, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces - These trial courts in the federal system hear cases appropriate to their names (tax cases in the Tax Court, etc.) Appeals from the Bankruptcy and Tax Courts are heard by the Court of Appeals in the appropriate circuit. Appeals from the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces are heard by the Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit.  U.S. Court of Federal Claims - Hears cases brought against the United States, typically on contract disputes.  Various Federal Agencies - Though not actually a part of the Judicial Branch of the Federal government, many Federal agencies have the power to create and enforce appropriate regulations.  Bankruptcy Courts, Tax Courts, Court of International Trade, Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces - These trial courts in the federal system hear cases appropriate to their names (tax cases in the Tax Court, etc.) Appeals from the Bankruptcy and Tax Courts are heard by the Court of Appeals in the appropriate circuit. Appeals from the Court of International Trade and the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces are heard by the Court of Appeals in the Federal Circuit.  U.S. Court of Federal Claims - Hears cases brought against the United States, typically on contract disputes.  Various Federal Agencies - Though not actually a part of the Judicial Branch of the Federal government, many Federal agencies have the power to create and enforce appropriate regulations. Federal Forums of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction

13 The U.S. Supreme Court

14 Jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court I.Original Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § 1251) A.Controversies between two or more states (exclusive jurisdiction) B.Actions in which ambassadors or other public ministers of foreign states are parties (non- exclusive jurisdiction) C.Controversies between the United States and a state (non-exclusive jurisdiction) D.Actions by a state against the citizens of another state (non-exclusive jurisdiction)

15 Jurisdiction of the U.S. Supreme Court II.Appellate Jurisdiction (28 U.S.C. § ) A.Cases from Federal courts 1.United States District Courts 2.United States Courts of Appeal a)Certiori b)Certification (exceptional cases only) B.Cases from highest state courts that present a Federal question

16 Selection of Cases The vast majority of cases filed with the U.S. Supreme Court are via Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. The vast majority of cases filed with the U.S. Supreme Court are via Petition for a Writ of Certiorari. Each year, the Court receives more than 8,000 petitions, of which it typically grants only 100. Each year, the Court receives more than 8,000 petitions, of which it typically grants only 100. Full written opinions are issued in only about 75 cases per year; the remainder are disposed of without oral argument or full written opinions. Full written opinions are issued in only about 75 cases per year; the remainder are disposed of without oral argument or full written opinions.

17 Selection of Cases In selecting which cases it will hear, the Court uses several “justiciability” criteria in addition to the usual ground rules for Federal cases: In selecting which cases it will hear, the Court uses several “justiciability” criteria in addition to the usual ground rules for Federal cases: The Rule of Four – At least four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case. The Rule of Four – At least four of the nine Justices must vote to accept a case. Compelling Reasons – e.g., where lower Federal Courts of Appeal have issued contradictory opinions on a certain issue, where a case is of general importance, or where a state court has decided an important Federal question in a way that conflicts with the decisions of another court. Compelling Reasons – e.g., where lower Federal Courts of Appeal have issued contradictory opinions on a certain issue, where a case is of general importance, or where a state court has decided an important Federal question in a way that conflicts with the decisions of another court. Ripeness – Where the legal issues involved are clear enough and well enough evolved and presented so that a clear decision can result. Ripeness – Where the legal issues involved are clear enough and well enough evolved and presented so that a clear decision can result. Political Questions – The Court will not address issues where it deems the subject matter unfit for judicial resolution. Political Questions – The Court will not address issues where it deems the subject matter unfit for judicial resolution.

18 State Court Systems

19 Trial Courts Trial Courts Almost all cases begin in trial courts, with a judge and usually a jury. Almost all cases begin in trial courts, with a judge and usually a jury. Trial courts determine the facts of a particular dispute and apply the law to those facts. Trial courts determine the facts of a particular dispute and apply the law to those facts. Courts can only hear cases under their jurisdiction. Courts can only hear cases under their jurisdiction. Appellate Courts Appellate Courts Appeal courts generally accept the facts given to them by trial courts and just review the trial record to see if the court made any errors of law. Appeal courts generally accept the facts given to them by trial courts and just review the trial record to see if the court made any errors of law. The highest appeals court in a state is the state Supreme Court. The highest appeals court in a state is the state Supreme Court. State Court Systems

20 Trial Courts Trial Courts District Courts and the Boston Municipal Courts are the primary trial courts that handle civil cases <$25,000 and criminal cases where the penalty is <5 years. District Courts and the Boston Municipal Courts are the primary trial courts that handle civil cases <$25,000 and criminal cases where the penalty is <5 years. Superior Courts are the primary trial courts that handle civil cases >$25,000 and criminal cases where the penalty is >5 years. There are 14 Superior Courts whose jurisdictions are divided by county. Superior Courts are the primary trial courts that handle civil cases >$25,000 and criminal cases where the penalty is >5 years. There are 14 Superior Courts whose jurisdictions are divided by county. There are also specialized trial courts, such as Small Claims Courts and Traffic Courts. There are also specialized trial courts, such as Small Claims Courts and Traffic Courts. Appellate Courts Appellate Courts The Massachusetts Appeals Court is the intermediate court of appeals. The Massachusetts Appeals Court is the intermediate court of appeals. The highest appeals court is the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The highest appeals court is the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. The Massachusetts Court System

21 Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction One judge; may have jury Supreme Judicial Court Supreme Judicial Court Five Justices sit en banc; may refuse to hear a case; final authority Traffic Courts Traffic Courts Small Claims Courts Small Claims Courts Massachusetts Appeals Court Massachusetts Appeals Court Three Justices sit en banc; never a jury Superior Courts Superior Courts District Courts District Courts Boston Municipal Court Boston Municipal Court Probate & Family Courts Probate & Family Courts Housing Courts Housing Courts Land Courts Land Courts Juvenile Courts Juvenile Courts Lower Appeals Court Highest Appeals Court

22  Small Claims Courts – Hear only civil suits under $2,000  Traffic Courts – Hear only traffic cases  Juvenile Courts – Hear only cases involving minors  Land Courts – Hear land and real property disputes  Probate Courts – Settle estates of deceased persons  Family Courts – Handle marital and child custody issues  Housing Courts – Handle landlord/tenant disputes  Small Claims Courts – Hear only civil suits under $2,000  Traffic Courts – Hear only traffic cases  Juvenile Courts – Hear only cases involving minors  Land Courts – Hear land and real property disputes  Probate Courts – Settle estates of deceased persons  Family Courts – Handle marital and child custody issues  Housing Courts – Handle landlord/tenant disputes Massachusetts Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction

23 End of The Federal and State Court Systems End of The Federal and State Court Systems


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