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Courts & Jurisdiction.

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Presentation on theme: "Courts & Jurisdiction."— Presentation transcript:

1 Courts & Jurisdiction

A. Purposes of Court Systems 1. An instrument of _______________________ 2. A social institution (alternate to violent resolution of disputes) B. Purposes of Procedures (in U.S. courts, anyway) 1. Establish a ________________ for reaching a conclusion 2. Assure ____________ consideration of all parties’ positions 3. Sometimes following procedures can appear more important that reaching the underlying objective (a fair decision on the merits)

3 C. Justice and “Fair” Trials
1. What does “justice” and “fairness” mean? a. For the individuals involved? b. For the “legal system” as a whole? c. The result in any single case may not be perceived as “just” by at least one party – the one who lost. 2. __________________ provide a framework that allows parties to present their arguments 3. Most of what is generally believed to be just and fair underlies U.S. court system(s) and the procedures/processes used 4. Since people almost always think of “going to court” when they have a problem, they must believe it is a good system.

4 WHO has the right to decide is very important III. COURT SYSTEMS in the U.S. A. Political System and Jurisdiction 1. 11th Century and allocated “subject matter jurisdiction” (See “The Fabulous 11th Century” “handout” on website) a. Pope Gregory VII’s declaration/assertion of right to decide cases based on what and who is involved (1075 A.D.) b. Evolved into recognition that more than one government or court system can exist in one geographic area 2. U.S. Constitution allocates jurisdiction between governments, including their courts, based on topic (“_________________” jurisdiction) a. To federal government — things that are “better” handled on a national basis (as specified in Constitution) b. To states — everything else

5 B. “Subject Matter” allocation between federal and state courts
1. Federal government has ___________________ jurisdiction, so do federal courts a. “_______________ question” jurisdiction b. “____________” jurisdiction 2. Constitution does not limit subject matter within the jurisdiction of states (with a few exceptions – bankruptcy, admiralty, etc.) a. State courts can hear cases on all issues, unless expressly ___________ by the U.S. Constitution, or federal legislation b. Principal limitation is “__________” clauses of Constitution c. Many issues can be tried in either state or federal court (“_______________ jurisdiction”) 3. Rules concerning “precedent” reflect jurisdiction rules and limitations

A. Court must have jurisdiction: 1. Geographic – courts established for particular areas that correspond with ______________ boundaries 2. Subject matter – some courts can only try cases involving particular legal issues a. Most often “courts of limited jurisdiction” Examples: » Juvenile court (criminal things) » “Family court” (child custody, divorce, criminal) » Probate (property, etc., of deceased persons) » Small Claims courts/divisions ($2,000 or $5,000 limit) b. Specialized “courts” (Bankruptcy, Tax, Customs) c. Appellate courts (no “original” jurisdiction)

7 3. “Personal” jurisdiction over the parties (individuals, legal entities,
government) to each case a. Two aspects (1) Legal jurisdiction over person(s) based on other types of jurisdiction (political, subject matter) » Theoretical / Potential » Same as government’s jurisdiction (2) Effective jurisdiction over specific person is gained by “________________________” (a “notice” procedure) b. Legal jurisdiction is a question of law c. Service of process is a question of __________ (1) Have the proper steps intended to notify the person of the litigation been taken? (2) Plaintiff consents to jurisdiction by filing the case

8 B. Personal jurisdiction and the limits of government power
1. “Due Process” requires that the government have recognized ___________________ over persons and things affected » Based on political association, OR » Based on “presence” within boundaries, OR » Based on actions or events within boundaries 2. “Due Process” requires giving a person the _______________ _____________. » Initially satisfied by “service of process” requirement » Subsequently satisfied by procedural rules C. “___________________” association 1. Persons who are “citizens,” “nationals”, “permanent residents” or “landed immigrants” » Citizenship by birth » Voluntary assumption (“naturalization” in U.S.) 2. Physical presence over long period (more than half year)

9 D. Acts within boundaries
1. Government has power to regulate ________________ with its borders, without regard to citizenship of actor 2. Acts ________________ to have an effect within borders, even though done outside borders » Mailing letter bomb addressed to another state 3. Acts done outside borders that could ______________________ to have an effect within borders » Damming a river so new lake forms in another state E. The challenge of internet and “globalization” 1. Is a person subject to jurisdiction wherever website can be accessed? 2. What level of knowledge or intention is necessary to make govern- ment’s exercise of power “legitimate”? 3. Most agree person must knowingly do some act with knowledge that it will probably have a result in particular place 4. Serious challenge to existing ideas of national sovereignty

10 C. _____________ of court systems reflect general ideas of “fairness”
1. “Everyone can make a mistake (or act unfairly) sometime.” a. Right to appeal _________ (can be waived) b. Frequently have the opportunity for second appeal if continued error demonstrated (appealed-to court decides) 2. “Justice should be available to everyone” a. Courts where litigation starts are numerous, widespread b. Default location is ______ persons, acts, property involved

A. Prior decisions that must be followed (“________________ precedent”) 1. A lower court must follow precedent established by courts to which ____________________. 2. Appellate courts must follow precedent from higher appellate courts (i.e. to which appeal would go) B. Only a court that issued a prior decision, or a higher reviewing court, can overturn the prior decision C. All other decisions may be used to support decision (“____________ precedent”) 1. Courts can look to other state’s decisions if no local precedent 2. Some states “lead” in some areas, more reference by other states’ courts 3. Prior reliance by highest court on decisions from another state can be used to persuade further use of that state’s decisions

12 The Federal Court System
United States Supreme Court (Highest Appeals Court) Nine Justices; appointed for life; may refuse to hear a case; final authority Three judges hear each case, brought up from the District Courts. Inter-mediate Appellate U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit U.S. Courts of Appeals (12 Circuits) Hears appeals from specialized trial courts. U.S. District Courts U.S. Bankruptcy Courts U.S. Patent & Trademark Office U.S. Tax Courts U.S. Court of International Trade U.S. Claims Court Primary Trial Court Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction Various Federal Agencies Trial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction

13 Circuits in the Federal Court System
1 2 8 Puerto Rico is part of Circuit 1 9 6 7 3 10 Virgin Islands are part of Circuit 3 4 Northern Marianna Islands are part of Circuit 9 (along with Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam) D.C. Circuit Washington, D.C. 11 5 Federal Circuit Washington, D.C. The 10th Circuit was split from the 9th, and the 11th from the 5th.


15 E. State Court Systems 1. ________ Court = General Original Jurisdiction a. Most states have some courts of “limited original jurisdiction” b. Usually subordinate to Trial Court c. Jurisdiction normally expressly limited to particular kinds of cases (subject matter) 2. Texas has one of the more complicated systems at this level NOTE: The names of trial courts vary from state to state; usually “district”, superior, circuit. Must have some idea of the state’s structure (can usually tell in appellate opinion from description of prior proceedings)

16 State Court System - Typical
Usually 7 Justices; may refuse to hear a case; final authority State Supreme Court (Highest Appeals Court) Three judges; never a jury Intermediate Appellate Courts Courts with “original” jurisdiction General Civil Division General Criminal Division Small Claims Division Juvenile Division Land Division Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction Domestic Relations Division Municipal Division Probate Division One judge; may have jury Trial Courts of Limited (or Specific) Jurisdiction Name and authority vary greatly between states One judge; may have jury Texas Courts Structure

17 2. Intermediate Court of Appeal [an “appellate” court
a. Must hear appeal from _________________ b. ONLY paper record; no evidence, no witnesses c. Decision is most often the last that can be obtained d. Assumes that the facts determined by trial court are ______, reviews only for ________________ 4. Highest Court a Normally has discretion to hear/not hear appeal b. Most states have provisions allowing direct appeal to highest court in some types of cases (e.g. “capital” cases) c. Texas is unusual in that it has two “highest” courts: (1) Court of Criminal Appeals (2) Supreme Court of Texas

Most cases (over 90% ? ) are filed in state trial courts — Most of those are in courts of limited jurisdiction Most cases filed do NOT go to trial ( % depending on filing court) Small proportion of trial court judgments (3% - 5%) are appealed Most appealed cases (80+% of civil) are NOT reversed on appeal Of 1,000s of requests, U.S. Supreme Court hears cases per year In the general trial court, the time between filing and trial is usually years (depending on filing court) Time between filing an appeal and hearing is usually more than one year. Obtaining a final judgment DOES NOT guarantee receiving payment. (decision is not final until all appeals are complete or time for appeal has expired without appeal)

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