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Chapter Four: STATE COURTS. LEVELS of STATE COURTS Trial courts of limited jurisdiction: lower courts Trial courts of general jurisdiction: major trial.

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Presentation on theme: "Chapter Four: STATE COURTS. LEVELS of STATE COURTS Trial courts of limited jurisdiction: lower courts Trial courts of general jurisdiction: major trial."— Presentation transcript:

1 Chapter Four: STATE COURTS

2 LEVELS of STATE COURTS Trial courts of limited jurisdiction: lower courts Trial courts of general jurisdiction: major trial courts Intermediate courts of appeals Courts of last resort: state supreme courts

3 Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction* Trial courts of limited jurisdiction are created, controlled, and funded by city or county governments – they are not part of the state judiciary. These courts comprise 85 percent of all judicial bodies in the U.S. The caseload of lower courts represents approximately two- thirds of all state court filings. These courts are restricted in their jurisdiction. Their role focuses primarily on preliminary stages of felony cases, misdemeanor traffic cases, and small claims cases. * These courts are also called: inferior courts, municipal courts, city courts, magistrate courts, or justice of the peace.

4 Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction* These major trial courts have the legal authority to decide all criminal and civil matters not delegated to the lower courts. State constitutions or statutory law (or both) determine their jurisdiction. Geographical jurisdiction is usually determined by political boundaries – most often by counties. Trial courts of general jurisdiction handle juvenile cases, misdemeanor and exclusive felony violations, DWI/DUI cases, and civil matters that are highlighted by domestic relations, estate, and personal injury issues. * These courts are also known as district, circuit, or superior courts.

5 Intermediate Courts of Appeals Due to increasing criminal and civil case workloads, states created intermediate courts of appeals. Now, ICAs hear all properly filed appeals. Most often, these courts (although they exist in only 39 states), handle both criminal and civil cases. Usually, these courts employ three-judge panels for deciding cases. Subsequent appeals are at the discretion of the higher court, however, for most litigants, the state’s intermediate appellate court is the final step for most.

6 Courts of Last Resort Courts of last resort do not use judicial panels, instead, the entire judicial body participates in deciding each case (en banc). These courts have a limited amount of original jurisdiction in matters dealing with legal and judicial personnel. The docket schedule is purely discretionary. They hear only those cases that tend to have broad legal and political significance. Courts of last resort are the ultimate review board for matters involving interpretation of state law.

7 The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania

8 Characteristics of State Judicial Systems Three Interdependent Features Localism Hierarchy Emphasis on the right to appeal Additional Features Include: Their resistance to strong organizational change. Their ability to adapt to change.

9 QUESTION How many Courts of Last Resort does the States of Texas and Oklahoma have? What is the concept of a Uniform Court System? Explain

10 Question Is the premise of a Unified Court System a good idea? In other words, would shifting judicial administration from local control to centralized management be a prudent goal? Why or why not? (be able to give several reasons for each)

11 Therapeutic Jurisprudence Five Essential Elements Immediate intervention Nonadversarial adjudication Hands-on judicial involvement Treatment programs with clear rules and structured goals. A team approach with the courtroom workgroup. Types of Specialized Courts Drug courts (adult and juvenile) Mental Health courts Domestic Violence courts Drunk driving courts Reentry courts Family courts

12 Question Explain the difference between the crime control model’s view and the due process model’s view on the “war on drugs” with regards to: causation, punishment, and equality. Which model do you favor?

13 The “War” on Drugs Crime Control Model Drug abuse is caused by a breakdown of individual responsibility. The solution is punishment and deterrence. Drug policies should not be concerned with socioeconomic factors. Due Process Model Drug abuse is a disease and needs to be treated. The solution is rehabilitation. Drug policies influence minority groups unequally.

14 Questions Does the “War” on drugs determine the way cases are processed and on the type of justice that results? How do “Three Strikes Laws” Impact the judiciary? (Ewing v. California, 2002)

15 Major Trial Courts Since most criminal cases do not go to trial, the dominant issue is not guilt or innocence, but what? Whereas federal courts hear a high percentage of white-collar and major drug distribution cases, state courts decide primarily what type of crimes?

16 The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania Video (‘For the Public’ Link)


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