2Trial CourtsTrial courts listen to testimony, consider evidence, and decide the facts in disputed situationsEvidence is provided by witnesses who are called to testify in the case
3Parties In a trial court there are two parties In a civil trial, the party who brings the legal action is called the plaintiffIn a criminal trial, the government(state or federal) initiates the case and serves as the prosecutorIn both civil and criminal trials, the party responding to the plaintiff or prosecutor is called the defendant
4Adversarial System This system is used in the United States This means that there is a contest between the opposing sides, or adversariesThe theory is that the Judge or jury will be able to determine the truth based on the opposing arguments.The side who is able to show weakness in the other side’s case usually win
5Inquisitional System This is used in some European countries In this system, the judge is active in questioning the witnesses and controlling the court process, including gathering and presenting evidence.These judges can order witnesses to appear, conduct searches, present and comment on evidence, and in general take the lead role in trying to uncover the truth
6Judges They are an essential part of our legal system Judges preside over the trial and has the duty to protect the rights of those involvedThey make sure that the attorneys follow the rules of evidence and trial procedureIn non-jury trials, the judge, determines that facts of the case and render a judgment.In jury trials the judge is required to instruct the jury as to the law involved in the case.
7JuryThe sixth amendment the US Constitution guarantees the right to the trial by jury in criminal cases.This right applies to both federal and state courtsThe seventh amendment guarantees a right to trial by jury in civil cases in federal court.In a civil case either the plaintiff or the defendant may request a jury
8Jury continued… To serve on a jury: You must be a US citizen At least 18 years oldAble to speak and understand EnglishA resident of the stateConvicted felons are usually ineligible for jury service unless their civil rights have been restored
9Jury continued…Once selected jurors are assigned to specific cases after being screened through a process known as the Voir dire examinationIn this process, opposing lawyers question each perspective juror to discover any prejudices or preconceived opinions concerning the case.
10Jury continued…Any juror who appears incapable of rendering a fair and impartial verdict is removedRemoval for causeEach attorney is allowed a limited number of peremptory challengesThis is the ability to have a prospective juror removed without stating a cause
11Appeals CourtIn an appeals court, one party presents arguments asking the court to review the decision of the trial courtThe other party presents and argument supporting the decision of the trial courtThere are no juries or witnesses and no new evidence is presented
12Who can appeal? Not everyone who loses a trial can appeal An appeal is only possible when there is an error of lawThis occurs when the judge makes a mistake as to the law applicable in the case
13Written OpinionsWhen an appeals court decides a case, it issues a written opinion.This opinion sets precedent for similar cases to follow in the futurePrecedent sets the standard or serves as an example for lower courts to followJudges who disagree with the majority opinion may write a dissenting opinionJudges who agree with the majority opinion may write a concurring opinion
14Precedent Case Examples Plessey v. FergusonBrown v. Board of Education
15State and Federal Courts State courtsThese are courts of general jurisdictionThey hear cases that deal with state law as well as many areas in federal law.Federal courtsThese are courts of limited jurisdictionThey hear criminal and civil cases involving federal law.They also hear some civil cases involving parties from different states when the amount in dispute is more than $75,000
16State and Federal Court Continue… Federal courts are known as U.S District CourtsThe U.S has 94 district courts and 13 circuit court
17State Courts All States have trial courts They are called superior, county, district, or municipal courts, depending on the stateThey deal with specific legal like family, traffic, criminal, probate and small claimsCriminal court is divided into felony and misdemeanor
18Federal CourtsArticle III of the U.S Constitution gives Congress the power to create lower courtsCongress has divided the country into 94 federal judicial districts, with each having a federal trial courtEach district has a U.S Bankruptcy courtApproximately 70 percent of the cases filed in federal court each year are bankruptcy cases
19State and Federal Court Continue… Overall federal courts handle about 1,000,000 cases per yearState courts handle about 30,000,000 cases per yearThere are roughly 1,700 federal judges and 30,000 state judges who decide these cases
20Tribal CourtSeveral hundred Indian tribal groups govern reservations in the United StatesSome tribal powers that remain on the reservation are called inherent powersThese are powers that regulate family relationships, tribal membership, and law and order.Some tribal powers that was granted by Congress are called delegated powersThese are powers that allow environmental regulation
21Tribal Court Continue..Tribal courts can hear both civil and criminal cases for Native Americans on the reservationTribal Court resemble the Anglo-American court system.However Tribal courts can not fine more than $5000 or imprison for more than 1year.The Supreme court has ruled that Tribal courts can no long persecute crimes done by non-native Americans on the reservation.
22The Supreme CourtThe Supreme court of the US is the highest court in the landThere are nine justices on the Supreme courtJustices vote by a majority ruleOf the 8000 cases appealed to the Supreme court, only about 80 are heardOnly a few of these petitions for certiorari (a request of the lower court to send up its records) are granted by the Supreme court.
23Supreme Court Continue… If the party appealing( usually the loosing party) get 4 of the 9 justices to agree to hear the case then the petition for certiorari is grantedEach side has 30 minutes to present their argumentWhen there is a case involving the federal government, the solicitor general represents the US government.
24The court terms begins on the first Monday of each October In a typical year, 75 percent of cases heard are from the federal government and the remaining comes from the state court systemSupreme court justices are nominated by the president and confirmed by the Senate.Supreme court justices are appointed for life
25Most of society most controversial cases have ended up before the Supreme court Death penalty, abortion, civil rights, etcThe Supreme court has the power to reverse the ruling of previous supreme courts.