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Chapter Topics Principles of U.S. Court Organization

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2 Chapter Topics Principles of U.S. Court Organization
The History of the Federal Courts United States District Courts United States Courts of Appeals The United States Supreme Court Specialized Courts Federal Judicial Administration Federal Courts Caseload Controversy Attacks on the Federal Judiciary

3 Principles of Court Organization
the U.S. court system is complicated and technical a language of the courts exists three important organizational principles: jurisdiction dual court system trial and appellate courts

4 Jurisdiction jurisdiction is the power of a court to decide a dispute
Geographical Jurisdiction geographical area from which courts are authorized to hear and decide disputes boundaries typically follow the lines of other governmental bodies

5 Jurisdiction Geographical Jurisdiction
when an event occurs on the border of two jurisdiction a dispute about where to hear the case sometimes arises extradition involves the surrender by one state (or country) of an individual accused of a crime in another jurisdiction

6 Jurisdiction Subject Matter Jurisdiction
many courts are limited to cases dealing with particular substantive issues (e.g., misdemeanors, small claims, bankruptcies) Hierarchical Jurisdiction courts differ in their functions and responsibilities

7 Jurisdiction Hierarchical Jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction means that a court has the authority to tray a case and decide it Appellate jurisdiction means that a court has the power to review cases that have already been decided by another court. appellate courts may have some limited original jurisdiction

8 Dual Court System America has one national court system and separate court systems in each of the 50 states federal courts are located in every state and territory organizationally the U.S. courts operate in a similar throughout the country—but they often differ in their interpretation of the law sometimes state and federal courts share judicial power over a case (e.g., robbing banks, selling drugs)

9 Trial and Appellate Courts
most all cases, civil or criminal, begin in trial court the losing party at trial may request an appellate review of the case an appellate court ensures that the trial court correctly interpreted and applied the law in deciding cases appellate courts re-examine old rules, devise new ones, an interpret past court decisions and statutory language

10 Trial and Appellate Courts
appellate courts and trial courts operate very differently appellate courts have no witnesses, no trials are conducted and juries are never used appellate judges often provide written opinions justifying their decisions the principal difference is that a trial centers on determining the facts, whereas an appeal focuses on correctly interpreting the law

11 The History of the Federal Courts
the federal courts reflects our federal system of government Article III of the U.S. Constitution Judiciary Act of 1789

12 The Constitutional Convention
the Articles of Confederation lacked a national court system there was widespread agreement that “a national judiciary be established” states’ rights advocates feared a strong national court system federalists distrusted provincial state courts and favored the establishment of lower federal courts Article III was a compromise – creating a Supreme Court but other federal courts only as Congress deems necessary

13 The Judiciary Act of 1789 the first bill introduced in the Senate
provided the foundation for the current three-tier system of federal courts Supreme Court, circuit courts, and thirteen district courts

14 The Judiciary Act of 1789 the act was both a victory for the federalists and a product of compromise district court boundaries were drawn along state lines by custom district court judges would be residents of their districts lower courts had limited jurisdiction

15 1789 to 1891 Judiciary Act of 1789 was a temporary compromise
federalists pushed for the Judiciary Act of 1801 eliminated circuit riding crated many new judgeships extended lower federal court jurisdiction but was repealed after the election of Thomas Jefferson

16 1789 to 1891 after the repeal of the Judiciary Act of 1801 numerous other pieces of minor legislation were passed – but problems remained circuit riding by Supreme Court justices was a serious problem – justices were old and faced many days of travel increasing caseloads from the growth in federal activity and increase in corporate business

17 Court of Appeals Act of 1891 creating the courts of appeals was the culmination of “one of the most enduring struggles in American political history” (Richardson and Vines 1970) the debate about state or federal resolution of problems continued a nationalist victory created nine new courts known as circuit courts of appeals where most appeals of trial court decisions go

18 Court of Appeals Act of 1891 released the Supreme Court from hearing appeals in many types of petty cases the Supreme Court now had greater control over its workload (expanded even further in the Judges Bill of 1925 and in 1988) period since 1891 has seen little change the basic structure today—district courts, courts of appeals, and Supreme Court is a function of the 1789 and 1891 laws

19 United States District Courts
94 U.S. District Courts 89 in 50 states, 1 in D.C., 1 each in Guam, Puerto Rico, Virgin Islands and Northern Mariana Islands at least one in each state no boundary crosses state lines many hold court in various locations called divisions—ranging from 1-8

20 United States District Courts
667 judgeships nominated by president, confirmed by U.S. Senate, serve during “good behavior” number depends on workload (2 in Wyoming, 28 in Southern District of New York—Manhattan) assisted by clerks, admin. assts., court reporters, probation officers, etc.

21 United States District Courts
large Districts may have a federal public defender each District has a U.S. Attorney nominated by the president, confirmed by the Senate, but serves at the pleasure of the president prosecutes violations of federal law and represents the government in civil cases

22 Three-Judge District Courts
a special type of District Court policy issues interact with court structure created by Congress to prevent single federal judges from deciding certain types of cases (e.g., Voting Rights Cases) created on an ad-hoc basis and disbanded after the case has been decided

23 Three-Judge District Courts
complex process party files suit in District Court the judge assigned to the case notifies the chief judge of the Court of Appeals covering that District the chief judge appoints two other judges to sit with the judge assigned one of the two must be a member of the Court of Appeals other cases put aside

24 Three-Judge District Courts
appeals go directly to Supreme Court controversy over the years about which and how many cases should go to three judge district courts 1973 – 320 cases, 2002 – 45 cases, today cases are only heard if they deal with legislative reapportionment or if mandated by 1964 Civil Rights Act or 1965 Voting Rights Act

25 United States Magistrate Judges
assist District Court judges created by the Federal Magistrates Act of 1968 to reduce the workload of District Court judges, in 1990 Congress acted to call them judges selected by District Court judges full-time are appointed for eight-year terms, part-time for four years may be removed for “good cause” 487 full-time, 50 part-time

26 United States Magistrate Judges
raises Constitutional issues magistrate judges perform quasi-judicial tasks but are not Article III judges today Magistrate Judges perform a wide variety of duties—depends on jurisdiction preliminary stages of criminal cases sentencing misdemeanor offenders supervising civil discovery conducting full trials with the consent of parties involved

27 Bankruptcy Judges District Courts are aided by 324 bankruptcy judges
before 1973 called bankruptcy referees Bankruptcy Reform Act of 1978 bankruptcy cases filed in bankruptcy court presidential nomination, Senate confirmation, 14 year term expanded the jurisdiction changed in 1982 after a Supreme Court decision to appointment by Court of Appeals

28 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
trial courts of original jurisdiction—caseload is large and growing 2005 – 407,690 Criminal and Civil only 71,022 of cases Criminal most are drug related, 26% drug cases increased 303% from 1980 to 1990 83% of cases involve Civil matters many cases involve: federal questions, diversity of citizenship, or prisoner petitions

29 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
Federal Questions case that contains a major issue involving the U.S. Constitution, or U.S. laws or treaties—most involve a congressional statute (e.g., Social Security, labor, civil rights laws, etc.) increase in civil caseloads is a function of more legislative activity Americans with Disabilities Act is a recent example of the expansion of civil rights—leading to court cases

30 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
Federal Questions other common federal questions include cases involving voting rights, patent claims, copyright infringements, naturalization proceedings and admiralty disputes Diversity Jurisdiction involves suits between citizens of different states or a U.S. citizen and a foreign country of citizen

31 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
Diversity Jurisdiction courts apply state, not federal law constitute 25% of civil docket power was first established in Judiciary Act of 1789 but controversy remains critics believe state courts are better able to resolve these disputes supporters like the impartiality of federal court over state court

32 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
Diversity Jurisdiction 1988 Congress increased the amount in controversy requirement from $10,000 to $50,000 which reduced number of cases Prisoner Petitions controversial area of District Courts federal or state prisoners may file a civil suit alleging that their rights under federal law are being violated

33 Caseload of the U.S. District Courts
Prisoner Petitions in state courts these are called habeas corpus petitions typically involve allegations of illegal confinement, ineffective counsel, conditions of confinement, inadequate medical assistance, etc. in 1996 Congress passed limitations

34 United States Courts of Appeals
created in 1891 to reduce Supreme Court workload 13 Courts of Appeals (11 regional, 1 Washington, D.C., 1 Federal Circuit) 179 judges, nominated by president, confirmed by Senate, serve during “good behavior” size of Court varies—6 on First Circuit, 28 on Ninth Circuit—based on workload each Circuit has a chief judge, and staff—including a circuit executive

35 United States Courts of Appeals
each judge may hire 3 law clerks and there is also a central legal staff normally uses 3 judge rotating panels may include visiting judges (primarily district judges) and senior judges (retired from active practice) by majority vote all judges in circuit may sit together—en banc—to hear or rehear a case (typically less than 100 a year)

36 Caseload of U.S. Courts of Appeals
very limited original jurisdiction (e.g., some cases from administrative agencies) mostly appellate jurisdiction over review of criminal and civil cases from district courts—90% of cases appeals from administrative agencies—Securities and Exchange Commission, National Labor Relations Board 2004 – 62,762 cases, caseload has grown over past three decades—mostly in civil appeals final appeal for virtually all federal cases

37 The United States Supreme Court
highest court in the nation nine justices – 1 chief justice, 8 associate justices nominated by the president, confirmed by Senate, serve during “good behavior” most cases come through a writ of certiorari – an order to the lower court to send up the case records to the Supreme Court reviews decisions from U.S. Courts of Appeals and State Courts of Last Resort

38 Caseload of the Supreme Court
the Court mostly decides which cases it will review uses the rule of four – four judges must vote to hear a case before it is placed on the docket a very small percentage of requests for appeals are granted—in recent years less than 100 cases must present a federal question cases often involve conflicting legal doctrines despite small number the decisions are very important—setting policy for the entire nation

39 Specialized Courts Congress has created specialized federal courts—courts authorized to hear a limited range of cases (e.g., taxes or patents) most have permanent full-time judges appointed to that court, others borrow judges from District or Appeals courts

40 Article I and Article III Status
judicial bodies established by Congress under Article III are known as constitutional courts (e.g., Supreme Court, District Courts, Courts of Appeals) judicial bodies established by Congress under Article I are known as legislative courts (e.g., bankruptcy courts, tax court) important differences Article III judges serve for “good behavior” Article I for a fixed term

41 Article I and Article III Status
Article III judges are protected from salary reductions while in office, Article I judges are not constitutional courts enjoy a greater degree of independence some Article I courts have been turned into Article III courts—in 1982 Court of Claims and U.S. Courts of Customs and Patent Appeals were combined to form the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit

42 Article I and Article III Status
specialized federal courts are largely unknown to the public are politically significant (e.g., cases involving international trade disputes, intellectual property and govt. contracts) expansion or contraction of the number and type specialized courts is a function of interest group politics

43 Military Justice September 11, 2001 brought attention to issues of military justice based on the 1950 Uniform Code of Military Justice created the Court of Military Appeals, composed of three civilian judges appointed by the president for 15 year terms the 1968 Military Justice Act further refined the practice of courts-martial

44 Military Justice military justice applies to members of the military and civilian employees and applies on and off a military base provide a determination of innocence or guilt but also enforce order and discipline military tribunals are being planned for many enemy combatants captured during the War on Terrorism the use of military tribunals for non military individuals is controversial

45 Federal Judicial Administration
the federal courts began with a haphazard administrative structure in 1922 Congress created the Judicial Conference—at the urging of Chief Justice Taft, the first effort at organization the Administrative Office Act of 1939 created the current administrative structure expanded the responsibilities of the Judicial Conference created the Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts established Judicial Councils

46 Chief Justice supervisory authority over federal system
gets an extra law clerk and admin assistant spokesperson for the federal court system

47 Judicial Conference of the U.S.
the administrative policy-making organization of the federal judicial system members include: chief justice, the chief judge from each courts of appeals, one district judge from each circuit, and the chief judge of the Court of International Trade meets semiannually for 2-day sessions most work is done by committee

48 Judicial Conference of the U.S.
directs the Administrative Office in administering the budget plays a role in the impeachment of federal judges revises the various rules of federal procedure proposed changes originate with the Judicial Conference and are approved, modified or rejected by the Supreme Court

49 Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts
created by Administrative Office Act of 1939 the director is appointed by Chief Justice and reports to the Judicial Conference presents the annual budget, allots authorized funds, supervises expenditures collects statistical data on the operation of the federal courts—publishes the Annual Report

50 Federal Judicial Center
created in 1967 conducts research and training activities provides education and training of federal judicial personnel (e.g., judges, probation officers, clerks of court, and pretrial service officers) oversight by board—including chief justice, director of the Administrative Office, judges from the U.S. District Courts, Courts of Appeals, and bankruptcy court

51 Judicial Councils basic administrative of a Circuit
membership determined by majority vote and includes both Circuit and District Judges authority to “make all necessary and appropriate orders for the effective and expeditious administration of justice within its circuits” authorized to investigate complaints of judicial disability or misconduct

52 U.S. Sentencing Commission
created by the Sentencing Reform Act provisions of the Comprehensive Crime Control Act of 1984 independent agency in the judicial branch establishes sentencing policies and practices for the federal courts develops, monitors and amends sentencing guidelines conducts training, research and informational programs

53 The Ongoing Federal Courts Caseload Controversy
early in the nation’s history most all judicial business was handled by state courts over time the federal caseload grew with the industrial revolution, prohibition, New Deal, Great Society and Civil Rights legislation federal caseload grow is nothing new but it has accelerated in the past 30 years critics complain about judicial gridlock

54 Reduce Federal Jurisdiction
to understand, plan for an control the growth Congress created a special study committee—which published the Report of the Federal Courts Study Committee recommended over 100 changes in the administration of the federal courts blames Congress for expanding federal jurisdiction members of Congress and even the Judicial Conference disagree with some of the recommendations

55 Congressional Expansion
Historically the police power has been reserved to states Congress has been extending federal criminal and civil jurisdiction Efforts to expand federal jurisdiction are often tied to partisan and ideological positions e.g., Schiavo Case

56 Judicial Reduction Federal judges tend to oppose the “federalization” of state crimes the Supreme Court has challenged congressional expansion of federal criminal court jurisdiction U.S. v. Lopez 1995 (Gun-Free School Zones Act unconstitutional) U.S. v. Morrison 2000 (Violence Against Women Act unconstitutional) decisions are causing debate

57 Attacks on the Federal Judiciary
attacks on the federal (and state) judiciary are increasing opponents suggest: an inspector general to investigate judges tougher disciplinary measures limitations on lifetime appointments impeachment of judges who make unpopular decisions elimination of some lower courts reduction of federal court funding

58 Conclusion the Federal Courts have substantial power
debates continue about what cases the federal courts should hear to some—the federal courts today hear too many trivial cases but to others—the federal courts should be open to average citizens to sue the federal judiciary today is much bigger and more important today than ever before

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