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Trial Courts For the next few days, we will be zooming in on the trial courts What do you know about the difference between civil and criminal cases at this level?
Civil Law Civil law seeks to resolve non-criminal disputes such as: disagreements over the meaning of contracts, property ownership, divorce, child custody, and Personal damages and property damage
Civil Law Civil law covers a wide spectrum of topics. Some of these topics are: consumer law international law agricultural law employment law animal law entertainment law business law family law tax law intentional torts such as libel, slander, defamation of character, battery and assault. negligence
Parties in a Civil Law Case Plaintiff Person who feels he or she has not been treated fairly by another person and seeks a solution in a civil court. Has to prove that he or she was treated unfairly. Defendant Person who the plaintiff claims has treated him or her unfairly.
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Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law Civil Law deals with wrongs done against an individual Criminal law is the body of statutory and common law that deals with wrongs done against society Civil LawCriminal Law
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law The burden of proof in a civil trial is “preponderance of the evidence” which sometimes is defined as “more likely than not” (at least 50% of the evidence supports the guilty claim Who has the burden of proof? The Plaintiff The burden of proof in a criminal trial is proof “beyond a reasonable doubt” The vast majority of the evidence (90%) supports the guilty verdict Who has the burden of proof? The federal or state government Civil LawCriminal Law
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law The loser in a civil case cannot be imprisoned, even if he or she cannot pay the damages. Who brings forth the case in a civil action? The plaintiff Punishment may be fine and/or imprisonment. Who brings forth the case in a criminal action? The government Civil LawCriminal Law
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law Either party may appeal in a civil case. Both parties may be anybody, including governments, corporations and individuals. Only the defendant may appeal in a criminal case. Plaintiff is always the state or federal government. Civil LawCriminal Law
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law Civil Law is established both through state and federal statutes and through court decisions. The jury decision must be 9-3 for the plaintiff to win. (States vary) State or federal statues always establish criminal law The jury decision in a criminal trial must be unanimous. Civil LawCriminal Law
Differences Between Criminal and Civil Law In a civil case, the plaintiff and the defendant may both be found partially right and partially at fault. In a criminal case, the defendant is either guilty or not guilty. Civil LawCriminal Law
Case Problems Please answer the case problems at the end of your notes, based on what we’ve learned from chapter 4. Justify your answer by explaining why you answered the way you did.
Case Problems 1. Gomez wanted to sue Shapiro for breach of contract but could not afford the expense and time delays associated with litigation. What alternatives are available to resolve this matter? Answer: Direct negotiation, mediation, and arbitration Both are much cheaper than litigation
Case Problems 2. June lost her case in the trial court. She thought that the plaintiff, Sid, had lied during the trial. On appeal, she requested that she be allowed to appeal and explain why she thought Sid had lied. Will her request be granted? Answer: No, only trial courts hear testimony
Case Problems 3. The Spirit Club of Central High contracted with Martinez and her rock band to play at the homecoming dance. The price agreed upon was $750. On week before the event, Martinez notified the club president that the band members were ill and could not play. IN reality, they appeared at another event. The club hastily hired a replacement band that charged $1,000. Is the club justified in suing Martinez? If so, in what court would the club probably sue and for how much? What would happen if the club did file suit and Martinez ignored the summons and the complaint filed by the club?
Case Problems Answer: The club could sue Martinez for breach of contract. The club would probably sue in small claims court and collect $250. If Martinez ignored the summons and complaint, the club would win a default judgment.
Case Problems 4. Mike ran into the rear of Sharon’s new car, causing $32,000 in personal injury and property damage. Sharon won a civil judgment for the amount of the damages, but weeks have passed and Mike still has not paid. What can Sharon do? Answer: Sharon can obtain a writ of execution and take Mike’s property and sell it to satisfy the judgment.
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