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CHAPTER 25: THE TEXAS JUDICIARY, LAW, AND DUE PROCESS.

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Presentation on theme: "CHAPTER 25: THE TEXAS JUDICIARY, LAW, AND DUE PROCESS."— Presentation transcript:

1 CHAPTER 25: THE TEXAS JUDICIARY, LAW, AND DUE PROCESS

2 Civil and Criminal Law Compared  Civil Law –Private rights –Individual relationships –Obligations –Responsibilities –Plaintiffs initiate suits. –Remedy is compensation/relief.  Criminal Law –Public Morality –Concepts of right and wrong –Public officials prosecute –Remedy is punishment.

3 Distinction between Civil and Criminal Cases  Civil cases concern individual rights and remedies. Involves private parties or organizations; individuals try to establish responsibility and provide relief. –Must prove “preponderance of the evidence”  Criminal cases involve a violation of penal law; the state attempts to establish guilt and inflict punishment –Defendant must be guilty “beyond a reasonable doubt”  Important distinction between civil law and criminal law is the burden of proof (the duty and degree to which a party must prove its position).

4 Types of Civil Law Common LawHomesteadEminent Domain Right to Work Stare DecisisProbateCharterSlander Common Law Marriage IntestateWrits of Injunction Libel Community Property Real PropertyClosed ShopTort

5 Issues in Civil Law  Tort reform- –placed restrictions on lawsuits because some argued that society was going to court for frivolous reasons.  Punitive damage reforms –judgments in excess of actual damages that are intended to punish the defendant.  No-fault –plan would allow an insured person to collect for damages from the individual’s own insurance company regardless or who is at fault in an accident. –Under the present liability plan, it’s expensive to determine who is at fault.

6 Federal Offenses  Federal offenses include crimes –committed on the high seas – committed on federal property, territories, and reservations –involving crossing of state or national boundaries –interfering with interstate commerce – committed against the national government or its employees while they are engaged in official duties.  Misdemeanors are minor crimes punishable by the county or a fine.

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8 The Criminal  Criminals often are Young males poor, members of racial or ethnic minority groups with emotional and social problems.  FBI index crimes Americans under eighteen account for 18% of crimes Murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft and motor vehicle theft are measured.  White collar crimes- usually someone you don’t suspect like a business man or college professor committing crimes such as tax fraud, bribery, business fraud, price fixing and embezzlement.

9 Possible Contributing Factors to Crime  Poverty  Education  Urban Life –Gangs  Illegal Drugs/Alcohol Abuse  Single-parent households  Each to the extent that sectors of society feel they do not now nor in the future benefit from the current system.

10 The Victim  Violent Crimes –Outrage against violent and property crimes is higher than towards white-collar crimes. Costs for white-collar crimes are much higher.  Victimless crimes –Prostitution, drug possession, gambling are crimes where the primary victim is the criminal themselves. –At least 46% of Texas murderers knew their victims –More than half of the Texas murder victims were minority. 41% were Hispanic. –Texas has experienced a decline in crime.

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14 The Courts  The court must blend two goals: 1.To protect society according to the state’s legal concepts 2.To protect the rights of the individual through ‘Due Process Legal Procedures.

15 The Courts and Criminal Law  Due process legal procedures are essential to guarantee fair play before the government may deny a person life, liberty, or prosperity.  Pretrial Court Activities –The accused is presented before a justice of the peace or other magistrate. The purpose of this arraignment is to: Explain the charges against the accused. Remind the suspect of the right to remain silent (2 nd time in the process) and to counsel and to request a written acknowledgement that the warning was given and understood. Set bail. Money deposit as a guarantee to appear in court. Inform the accused of the right to an examining trial or a Grand Jury.

16 The Courts (cont.)  The suspect is told the charges –upon arrest, in the arraignment, and in several subsequent proceedings.  Writ of Habeas Corpus –a court order requiring that the prisoner be presented in person and legal cause shown for imprisonment (between arrest and arraignment). –the accused has the right to counsel.  Personal recognizance –the defendants personal promise to appear. Money deposit waived usually first offenders, not career criminals.  The accused has the right to an examining trial in felony cases

17 Formal Charges Summary  Pretrial court activities include arraignment, the setting of bail, a second reading of the Miranda rights, and establishing the right to legal counsel. –A felony indictment requires action of a grand jury. –Grand juries are made up of twelve ordinary persons who are responsible for felony indictments –A petit jury is used in a trial court to determine guilt or innocence.

18 Pretrial Hearings  This is a second arraignment before a judge  The formal indictment by the Grand Jury is read and the accused enters a plea.  If a guilty plea is entered, the judge sets a punishment date.  Most defendants plead not guilty at this point, and the case is placed on a docket or a calendar.  A variety of motions could be made: –Continuance-delay –Suppression of evidence-certain evidence inadmissible –Insanity plea- –Change of venue-Usually related to media coverage

19 Plea Bargaining  Most cases are finalized via plea bargaining before the pretrial hearings. –Deferred adjudication- case can be tried at a later date if the accused meets probation-like conditions –Trial v. Plea bargaining- quick disposition of cases can result in real criminals may get off easy while falsely accused citizens may bargain to get it over with.

20 The Trial  A trial by jury could be waived. –Texas provides a right to a trial by jury in every criminal case. –If waived, the judge decides the verdict.  During the voir dire, prospective jurors are questioned. –Peremptory challenge –Strikes for cause  Adversary system  The jury determines the issue of guilt, but sentencing may be made by either the judge or the jury.  Punishment for those found guilty may include: –fine, probation, deferred adjudication, incarceration, and death by lethal injection

21 The Trial Procedure Guarantees  Knowledge of the laws  Evidence  Compulsory process  Charge to the jury  Summary  Hung jury  Mistrial  Probation  Sentencing

22 Post Trial Proceedings  To protect a person from double jeopardy, an acquitted person cannot be tried again for the same offense. In mistrial cases, another trial may be held. A person found not guilty of one offense may be tried for a related offense. The state may not appeal the reversal of a not guilty verdict. The defendant may appeal a guilty verdict. Appellate procedure is designed to review a lower court’s decision. If several procedural errors are found, the court may return the case to a lower court for retrial (not considered double jeopardy). Once all appeals are exhausted, the federal courts might hear the case if a constitutional violation is asserted.  Juveniles are treated differently under state law.

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24 Municipal Courts  Set up by incorporated cities of Texas  Criminal misdemeanors with fines less than $500.  Exclusive over municipal ordinance violations (fines up to $2,000).  Limited civil penalties in cases involving drugs  Magistrate functions

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26 Justice of the Peace Courts  Magistrate Functions  Have criminal jurisdiction in class C misdemeanors with fines up to $500 and civil jurisdiction in cases involving less than $5,000  Small Claims

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28 County Level Courts  254 Con. Law Courts  Original Jurisdiction in civil matters between $200 and $5,000.  Original jurisdiction over $500 misdemeanors/jail.  De novo appeals from lower court/court of record.

29 County Level Courts  187 County Courts at Law  Limited jurisdiction over civil matters less than $100,000/criminal misdemeanors.  De novo appeals from lower courts/court of record  16 Probate Courts  Limited to Probate Matters

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31 District Courts  420 Courts and 420 Judges  Original Jurisdiction in matters over $200.  Divorce, title, contested elections and contested probate matters.  Original jurisdiction in felony crime cases  Juvenile Matters  10 District Courts are criminal courts.  Cases with the death penalty go to Court of Criminal Appeals  Plea Bargaining

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33 Court of Appeals  14 Courts and 80 Justices  Intermediate appeals from trial courts  Criminal Appeals go to the Court of Criminal Appeals  Civil Appeals go to the Texas Supreme Court.

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35 Supreme Court and Court of Criminal Appeals  Supreme Court  1 Court  9 Justices  Final appellate jurisdiction in civil and juvenile cases  Court of Criminal Appeals  1 Court  9 Judges  Final Appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases

36 Supreme Court Justices  Elected in statewide elections  Three of the justices elected every two years for six year terms.  Qualifications –At least 35 years of age –U.S. and Texas Citizens –Served as a lawyer or judge of a court of record for ten years

37 The Selection Method of Texas Judges…  Judges of County Courts at Law and all higher courts must be experienced attorneys to be elected to the bench.  State trial judges are elected on a partisan basis for terms of four years with no term limits.  Appellate judges are elected on a partisan basis for terms of ten years with no term limits.  District judges and all higher judges can be impeached by the legislature and removed from office. County level and lower state judges may be removed by a district court.  There is no recall of state judges.

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39 Texas Judiciary Issues  There is too much overlapping jurisdiction and confusion in the judicial system.  Many municipal and all J. P. courts are not courts of record. This means appeals result in trials de novo. This results in many cases being dismissed.  A unified highest appellate court would put Texas in line with all states but Oklahoma.  There is need to reform cost and partisanship of selecting judges.


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