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 The Federal Court System  Articles of Confederation  Major Weakness – No Courts  Each State had own courts and laws.

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Presentation on theme: " The Federal Court System  Articles of Confederation  Major Weakness – No Courts  Each State had own courts and laws."— Presentation transcript:


2  The Federal Court System  Articles of Confederation  Major Weakness – No Courts  Each State had own courts and laws

3  Article III of the Constitution  Created a Supreme Court  Congress can create inferior courts (courts of lower authority)  Judiciary Act of 1789 – created federal district courts  Later in 1791 appeals courts were created

4  Criminal and Civil Cases  There are two court systems in the US – federal and state courts  Criminal cases – cases in which juries decide whether people have committed crimes  Civil cases – cases in which two sides disagree over some issue

5  Federal Court Jurisdiction  Jurisdiction – the authority to hear and decide a case  Federal courts have jurisdiction in the following areas  The Constitution – a constitutional right has been violated

6  Federal laws and Federal crimes – kidnapping, bank robbery  Admiralty and Maritime law – crimes and accidents on the high seas or related to the seas.  Controversies between states – any disagreement between states

7  Disputes in which the US government is involved – the government can sue if someone does not live up to their part of a contract or a person/company can take the government to court if they do not believe the government lived up to their part of a contract

8  Controversies between citizens of different states – if a person in Maine is cheated by a person from California and it is worth more than $50,000, then the federal courts can intervene  Disputes involving foreign governments – any dispute between an American (US government, American company) and a foreign country

9  US ambassadors, ministers, and consuls serving in foreign countries – if an ambassador breaks an American law in the embassy, the federal courts will hear the case

10  Exclusive jurisdiction – only federal courts may hear the case  Concurrent jurisdiction – state and federal courts share jurisdiction

11  District Courts  Lowest level of the federal court system  Are where trials are held and lawsuits begin  Original jurisdiction – authority to hear cases for the first time  Only federal courts is where jury trials are held  Each district is a geographic area – mail fraud, income tax evasion, bank robbery and treason

12  Civil cases – disputes involving labor relations, public lands, copyright and patent laws, and civil rights  Constitution states – “such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed”

13  District Court Judges  Each district has at least two  Each district court judge  Decides procedures to be followed  Explain the law involved in a case to the jury  Decide on punishment/fine when the jury finds a defendant guilty  Are paid  Cannot have pay reduced during term in office

14  Other District Court Officials  Magistrate  Issues court orders  Hears preliminary evidence to determine whether the case should be brought to trial  Hear minor cases  US Attorney  Government’s lawyer  His/Her job to prove that a suspect has committed a crime  Do most of the trial work

15  Serving Subpoenas  Marshal  Arrests suspects  Delivers defendants to court  Serves subpoenas – court order requiring someone to appear in court  Clerks and Secretaries and other individuals help make judicial branch work as swiftly as possible

16  US Courts of Appeals  Also called federal appeals courts (are above district courts)  Jurisdiction – appellate jurisdiction  Hear only cases which have gone to district courts or through federal regulatory agencies  Can only be used if the law was not followed properly or if procedures were not followed properly  Created to ease the work of the Supreme Court  There are 12 circuits or geographic areas

17  Appeals Court Judges  There are 6 to 27 per court  They do not preside over trials  No jury – only a panel of three judges hear arguments and review cases  They only rule if rights are protected and a fair trial was received

18  Three types of rulings  Uphold the lower courts verdict  Remand (return) the case for a new trial  Overturn the decision  Appeals courts decision is usually final  Very few cases reach the Supreme Court

19  Special Federal Courts  US Tax Courts – hears appeals dealing with federal tax laws  US Court of Federal Claims – citizens who sue the government for money claims  US Court of Military Appeals – appeals court for armed forces (after an individual has been court – marshaled)  US Court of International Trade – disputes arising from tariff and trade laws

20  The Power of the Supreme Court  Original jurisdiction  Preside over trials in cases that involve diplomats from foreign countries  Preside over trials where states sue each other (usually the Supreme Court allows a district court to hear this)

21  Appellate jurisdiction in all other cases – of over 6,000 appealed usually around 150 are heard  Pose significant legal or constitutional questions  Of great public interest or concern  Judicial Review - court may review any federal or state law to see if it is in compliance with the Constitution

22  Judicial Review  One of the most important powers of the Supreme Court  If a law is in conflict it will be found unconstitutional and be nullified  The Supreme Court is the final authority on the Constitution

23  Marbury v. Madison  Established judicial review in 1803  President John Adams made some midnight appointments; Marbury, who was appointed a justice of the peace, took James Madison to the Supreme Court for not carrying out President Adams appointments invoking the Judiciary Act of 1789)

24  Chief Justice John Marshall wrote the majority opinion turning down Marbury’s claim and the three basic principles of judicial review were created:  The Constitution is the supreme law of the land  Where there is a conflict between the Constitution and any other law, the Constitution must be followed  The judicial branch has the duty to uphold the Constitution and nulify or cancel any law in conflict with the Constitution

25  The power of judicial review has become an important check on any other branch  Checking the Courts Power  Congress can change laws so they are no longer in conflict  Congress can create a new amendment

26  Controversy and the Court  The Court has made people very MAD (they may even ask Congress to change a law to fix the problem)  1857 Dred Scott v. Sanford – ruling; the Constitution did not prohibit slavery in the territories (Slaves were not citizens and therefore could not sue in the federal courts)  Amendment 13 changed that

27  Supreme Court Justices  There are eight associate justices and one chief justice  No set formal qualifications  Informal qualification  All have been lawyers  Most have been judges  Many have been public officials  W.H. Taft was the only chief justice to have been President first

28  Appointment by the President and approval by the Senate  The President tries to appoint judges who share the same ideology, but once appointed the have no obligation to follow the President’s line

29  Facts about the Supreme Court  Thurgood Marshall (1967) and Clarence Thomas (1991) were the first African Americans  Sandra Day O’Connor (1981) and Ruth Bader Ginsberg (1993) were the first women

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