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Law, Justice, and Society: A Sociolegal Introduction Chapter 4 Federal and State Courts.

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1 Law, Justice, and Society: A Sociolegal Introduction Chapter 4 Federal and State Courts

2  “Do justice” by providing all parties with due process of law  Make public policy decisions  Clarify the law through interpretation of statutes and the application of general principles to specific fact patterns (Abraham 1987) What Do Courts Do?

3 Federal and State Courts  The legal authority or power of a court to hear, pronounce on, and decide a case  Conferred by statute or constitution  Four primary types: –personal –subject matter –geographic –hierarchical (Shreve and Hansen 1994) Jurisdiction

4 Federal and State Courts  Involves the authority of the court over a person  Occurs when a person comes in contact with the court –by being a citizen of the state –or by committing an act that contravenes the laws of that state Personal Jurisdiction

5 Federal and State Courts  The authority of a court to hear a particular type of case  Limited jurisdiction: those courts that may hear only a specified type of case Subject Matter Jurisdiction

6 Federal and State Courts  Authority of courts to hear cases that arise within specified boundaries (or venues)  Events that take place (either wholly or in part) within a specific area are under the jurisdiction of that court Geographic Jurisdiction

7 Federal and State Courts  Division of responsibilities and functions among the various courts  Includes: –original and appellate jurisdiction –limited (as above) and general jurisdiction Hierarchical Jurisdiction

8 Federal and State Courts  General Jurisdiction: A court has authority to hear a variety of cases  Original Jurisdiction: The power of a court to hear the case initially  Appellate Jurisdiction: The Power of the court to review the decision of a lower court –may affirm or reverse a decision, or return a case for reconsideration –do not conduct retrials; rely on oral arguments and legal briefs –concerned with legal errors Hierarchical Jurisdiction (cont.)

9 Federal and State Courts  Two court systems in United States: –the systems of each individual state –the federal court system a.k.a. Article III Courts  Federal system consists of three tiers: –district courts –intermediate appellate courts –the Supreme Court U.S. Court Systems

10 Federal and State Courts Source: Wheeler, R. and C. Harrison. 2005. Creating the Federal Judicial System, 3rd Ed. Washington, D.C. Federal Judicial Center.

11 Federal and State Courts  Trial court and court of original jurisdiction for the federal court system  94 federal judicial districts  Number of judges range from 2 to 22; about 650 total  Subordinate judicial officers called federal magistrates who conduct preliminary proceedings and issue warrants District Courts

12 Federal and State Courts  Have original jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases involving federal statutes  Can hear trials for civil cases when there is a diversity of citizenship involved  Can hear state civil cases if the parties are diverse and if the amount in question exceeds $75,000  Most of the federal docket consists of civil cases  However, this has been changing as Congress in recent years has increased the number of federal crimes District Courts (cont.)

13 Federal and State Courts  In order to keep federal judiciary independent, federal judges –are appointed for life during good behavior –cannot receive a salary reduction during their term in office District Courts (cont.)

14 Federal and State Courts  A.k.a. “circuit courts”  Total of 13: –11 for the fifty states –1 for the District of Columbia –1 for the federal circuit  D.C. has its own appeals court due to the large volume of cases filed there Court of Appeals

15 Federal and State Courts  Jurisdiction of the court of appeals for the federal circuit hears appeals from:  Several federal administrative agencies  Patent claims  Claims Court  Court of International Trade Court of Appeals (cont.)

16 Federal and State Courts  The remaining 11 are organized on a territorial basis  Each circuit is over several states  The number of judges varies –6 in 1st circuit –28 in 9th circuit  Appeals heard by three judge panels which is constantly changing  Conflicting decisions can be decided by all or part of the circuit judges sitting en banc Court of Appeals (cont.)

17 Federal and State Courts  Court of last resort for the federal system and for state cases dealing with a federal constitutional issue  All decisions are precedents binding on all courts  These decisions can only be refuted by other supreme court decisions or a constitutional amendment Supreme Court

18 Federal and State Courts  Has original jurisdiction in very few cases:  Suits between states  Suits between the United States and a state  Suits between a state and a foreign citizen  Appellate docket is almost entirely discretionary Supreme Court (cont.)

19 Federal and State Courts  Parties seeking appeals petition for a writ of certiorari –an order to the lower court asking to send the record up to the Supreme Court  Takes four judges to accept a case to the court’s docket—Rule of Four  Otherwise, petition is denied and lower court ruling is left undisturbed –does not count as a precendential setting  Only about 2 percent of petitions are granted cert Supreme Court (cont.)

20 Federal and State Courts  Law is inherently conservative—reflected in court make-up  92 out of 111 justices have been white, Protestant, and male  1st Catholic: 1835, Roger B. Taney  1st Jew: 1916, Louis Brandeis  1st black: 1965, Thurgood Marshall  1st woman: 1981, Sandra Day O’Conner Supreme Court Justices

21 Federal and State Courts  Current court has 9 justices, including 1 chief –Chief Justice John Roberts  Congress has the authority either to enlarge or reduce the number of justices Supreme Court Justices (cont.)

22 Federal and State Courts  Supreme Court did not initially establish a significant presence in the affairs of the country  Today, Supreme Court plays a significant role in public affairs (Cooper 1988) Supreme Court and the Law

23 Federal and State Courts Federal Judiciary System

24 Federal and State Courts  Workhorses of the American judicial system  Systems differ from state to state  In general, four tiers of courts:  Courts of limited jurisdiction  Courts of general jurisdiction  Intermediate appellate courts  Final appellate court, or court of last resort The State Courts

25 Federal and State Courts  Deal with less serious offenses and civil cases  A.k.a. justice of the peace court, magistrate’s court, municipal court, and county court  May be responsible for issuing search and arrest warrants and conducting preliminary stages of felony cases  Civilly, handle juvenile delinquency cases, family law, and probate Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

26 Federal and State Courts  Informal in nature  No right to trial  Many judges are not lawyers  No records kept except judgment  Appeals are done through a trial de novo  Important for 3 reasons: –only experience with court system for many citizens –process a tremendous number of cases –involved in crucial early stages of criminal cases Courts of Limited Jurisdiction (cont.)

27 Federal and State Courts  Trial courts for civil and criminal matters  Original jurisdiction for felony cases  Also hear appeals (trial de novo) from lower (limited jurisdiction) courts Courts of General Jurisdiction

28 Federal and State Courts  Small state or states with small populations have only one level of appellate courts  Other states (38) have two levels –intermediate –court of last resort (Meador 1991) Appellate Courts

29 Federal and State Courts  A.k.a. Court of Appeals  Hear felony appeals of right –an appeal which state legislatures permit all criminal defendants as a matter of law –occurs after a final order has been entered by trial court Intermediate Appellate Courts

30 Federal and State Courts  Usually called the State Supreme Court  48 states have one; 2 states have two (OK and TX) –one for civil cases and one for criminal cases  Number of judges varies from 3 to 9  Courts of last resort in states with intermediate appeals courts hear cases on a discretionary basis  Most states require courts of last resort to hear death penalty appeals  Only option after state supreme courts is the U.S. Supreme court Court of Last Resort

31 Federal and State Courts  Pretrial Proceedings  Jury and Jury Selection  Trial  Sentencing  Appeals Overview of the Criminal Process

32 Federal and State Courts  Begins with either the filing of a complaint or an arrest  Complaint is an accusation on the part of a private citizen or an officer accusing a specific person(s) of committing specific act(s)  Serves as the charging document for the preliminary hearing  If arrested, an officer will generally fill out a complaint later Pretrial Proceedings

33 Federal and State Courts  Search and arrest warrants are obtained by police officers  Require an affidavit delineating the facts which create probable cause  After arrest, individuals are booked –an official entry into the police blotter –indicates suspect’s name, arrest time, offense –includes fingerprints and photographs Pretrial Proceedings (cont.)

34 Federal and State Courts  First court appearance is the initial appearance  Takes place in a municipal or justice of the peace court  Here, suspect is informed of –constitutional rights –nature of the charges –bail is granted or denied, as well as amount if granted Pretrial Proceedings (cont.)

35 Federal and State Courts  Next appearance is the preliminary hearing  Magistrate determines if there is probable cause  If probable cause is established, defendant is “bound over” for trial  This means that a trial date is set and defendant is notified of pending charges  Preliminary hearing is a formal adversarial proceeding conducted in open court –“critical stage” requiring counsel Pretrial Proceedings (cont.)

36 Federal and State Courts  Charges are then filed in one of two ways: –information by prosecutor –indictment by grand jury  Grand jury –typically 23 people –proceedings are not open to public –only members of grand jury, district attorney, and witnesses are present –only hears evidence presented by state –rare when grand juries do not return indictments –grand juries are checks on overzealous prosecutors Pretrial Proceedings (cont.)

37 Federal and State Courts  After charges are filed, the arraignment occurs  This is a formal hearing before a felony court  Defendants are advised of their rights and again informed of the charges against them  Defendant enters a plea –guilty –not guilt –no contest (nolo contendere) –standing mute (court enters a plea of “not guilty”) –Aflord plea (not widely accepted) Pretrial Proceedings (cont.)

38 Federal and State Courts  Juries replaced trial by combat and trial by ordeal  Originally composed of “knowledgeable witnesses”  Gradually became composed of disinterested parties  Juries are finders of fact; judges are finders of law  Juries need not be composed of 12 members  No requirement that juries return a unanimous verdict, unless the jury consists of less than 12 members  “Jury of one’s peers” means the jury must be selected from the community where the crime too place Jury and Its Selection

39 Federal and State Courts  Jury selection begins once the trial date is set  Members are randomly selected from community, generally using automobile records or voting records  Potential jurors are then summoned, i.e., venire  Prospective jurors are examined by the judge and/or the attorneys involved to determine biases, etc., to ensure impartiality –called “voir dire” –in reality, attorneys are trying to “stack the deck” with the most favorable jurors –jury consultants (especially for civil cases) Jury and Its Selection (cont.)

40 Federal and State Courts  Prosecution and defense may seek to remove potential jurors by using challenges  Challenges for cause use a specific and valid reason to dismiss jurors; typically unlimited  Peremptory challenge do not use any reason and are generally limited –may not be based on race (Batson v. Kentucky 1986) –may not be based on gender (J.E.B. v. Alabama 1994) Jury and Its Selection (cont.)

41 Federal and State Courts  Opening statements –first prosecution (they carry the burden of proof) –defense can reserve its opening statement until after the prosecution’s case-in-chief  Prosecution’s case-in-chief –must establish each element of the crime beyond a reasonable doubt (the burden of proof in criminal trials) –accomplishes this with evidence and witnesses  Defense’s case-in-chief –not required –several types of defense, such as alibi and affirmative The Trial

42 Federal and State Courts  Prosecution may choose to rebut the defense’s case  Closing arguments –prosecution goes last  Jury instructions and jury deliberation The Trial (cont.)

43 Federal and State Courts  Not guilty verdict = defendant is set free and protected by the double jeopardy clause  If guilty = sentence must be imposed –judge imposes sentence after issuing for a presentence investigation report from probation –in death penalty cases, a jury must sentence defendant –Ring v. Arizona 2002  Types of sentences: incarceration, suspended sentence, probation, fines, etc. Sentencing

44 Federal and State Courts  Two ways to challenge a trial’s outcome: direct or indirect  Direct = challenges the defendant’s conviction  Indirect = challenges the state’s power to incarcerate the defendant  Habeas corpus is an indirect appeal –“you have the body” –requires the person to whom it is direct to either produce the person named in the writ or release that person from custody Appeals

45 Federal and State Courts  Congress recently restricted the use of habeas corpus by imposing time limits on federal petitions if there is evidence of intentional delay to injure prosecutor’s case  Congress and the Supreme Court have limited habeas corpus by restricting how such appeals are filed and pursued –requiring all applicable issues in one writ, rather than issuing several consecutive writs (Maahs and Hemmens 1998) Recent dynamics in Habeas Corpus

46 Federal and State Courts  Judges  Prosecutors  Defense Attorneys Court Actors

47 Federal and State Courts  Serve as a referee  Responsible for enforcing court rules  Instruct the jury on the law  Determine the law  Not representative of American society: –mostly white, male, and upper-middle class Judges

48 Federal and State Courts  Appointment –generally by chief executive  Election –partisan –nonpartisan –by legislature  Merit system Judge Selection Methods

49 Federal and State Courts  A.k.a. Missouri plan  A nonpartisan commission draws up a list of qualified candidates  Governor appoints new judges from this list  After a period of time after their selection, these judges stand for election (retention) Merit System

50 Federal and State Courts  1789 Judiciary Act provided for a U.S. attorney for each court district; appointed by President  1870, Congress authorized creation of the Department of Justice with an attorney general and assistants  AG is a political appointee who administrates prosecution priorities for deputy attorney generals  Deputy AG’s are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate  Assistant U.S. Attorneys are not appointees Federal Prosecutors

51 Federal and State Courts  Usually elected; have appointed assistants who do most of the trial work  Duty is to prosecute cases in the name of the people  To do justice by pursuing those who have committed crimes  Have tremendous power in deciding whom to prosecute coupled with little oversight State Prosecutors

52 Federal and State Courts  Represent their clients as effectively as possible within the courtroom rules  Focus on five areas (Uphoff 1992): 1.Ensure that the defendant’s rights are not violated 2.Ensure that the defendant is aware of all options 3.Provide the best, ethical defense 4.To investigate and prepare the defense 5.To argue for lowest possible sentence or best possible plea bargain Defense Attorneys

53 Federal and State Courts  Privately retained counsel  Public Defenders  Court-appointed counsel  Contract system Types of Defense Counsel

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