2 I. SYSTEMS, PROCEDURES & JUSTICE A. Purposes of Court Systems1. 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 conclusion2. Assure ____________ consideration of all parties’ positions3. Sometimes following procedures can appear more important that reaching the underlying objective (a fair decision on themerits)
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 topresent their arguments3. Most of what is generally believed to be just and fair underliesU.S. court system(s) and the procedures/processes used4. Since people almost always think of “going to court” when theyhave a problem, they must believe it is a good system.
4 WHO has the right todecide is very importantIII. COURT SYSTEMS in the U.S.A. Political System and Jurisdiction1. 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 decidecases based on what and who is involved (1075 A.D.)b. Evolved into recognition that more than one governmentor court system can exist in one geographic area2. U.S. Constitution allocates jurisdiction between governments,including their courts, based on topic (“_________________”jurisdiction)a. To federal government — things that are “better” handledon 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 courtsa. “_______________ question” jurisdictionb. “____________” jurisdiction2. Constitution does not limit subject matter within the jurisdictionof 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 legislationb. Principal limitation is “__________” clauses of Constitutionc. Many issues can be tried in either state or federal court(“_______________ jurisdiction”)3. Rules concerning “precedent” reflect jurisdiction rules andlimitations
6 II. JURISDICTION OVER PARTIES TO LITIGATION A. Court must have jurisdiction:1. Geographic – courts established for particular areas thatcorrespond with ______________ boundaries2. Subject matter – some courts can only try cases involvingparticular legal issuesa. 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 casea. Two aspects(1) Legal jurisdiction over person(s) based on other types ofjurisdiction (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 lawc. Service of process is a question of __________(1) Have the proper steps intended to notify the personof 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 boundaries2. “Due Process” requires giving a person the ____________________________.» Initially satisfied by “service of process” requirement» Subsequently satisfied by procedural rulesC. “___________________” association1. Persons who are “citizens,” “nationals”, “permanentresidents” 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 itsborders, without regard to citizenship of actor2. Acts ________________ to have an effect within borders, even thoughdone outside borders» Mailing letter bomb addressed to another state3. Acts done outside borders that could ______________________to have an effect within borders» Damming a river so new lake forms in another stateE. 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 knowledgethat it will probably have a result in particular place4. 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 ifcontinued error demonstrated (appealed-to court decides)2. “Justice should be available to everyone”a. Courts where litigation starts are numerous, widespreadb. Default location is ______ persons, acts, property involved
11 IV. RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN “PRECEDENT” and JURISDICTION A. Prior decisions that must be followed (“________________ precedent”)1. A lower court must follow precedent established by courts towhich ____________________.2. Appellate courts must follow precedent from higher appellatecourts (i.e. to which appeal would go)B. Only a court that issued a prior decision, or a higher reviewingcourt, can overturn the prior decisionC. All other decisions may be used to support decision (“____________precedent”)1. Courts can look to other state’s decisions if no local precedent2. Some states “lead” in some areas, more reference by otherstates’ courts3. Prior reliance by highest court on decisions from another statecan 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 authorityThree judges hear each case, brought up from the District Courts.Inter-mediate AppellateU.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal CircuitU.S. Courts of Appeals (12 Circuits)Hears appeals from specialized trial courts.U.S. District CourtsU.S. Bankruptcy CourtsU.S. Patent & Trademark OfficeU.S. Tax CourtsU.S. Court of International TradeU.S. Claims CourtPrimary Trial CourtTrial Courts of Limited (Specific) JurisdictionVarious Federal AgenciesTrial Courts of Limited (Specific) Jurisdiction
13 Circuits in the Federal Court System 128Puerto Rico is part of Circuit 1967310Virgin Islands are part of Circuit 34Northern Marianna Islands are part of Circuit 9 (along with Alaska, Hawaii, and Guam)D.C. Circuit Washington, D.C.115Federal Circuit Washington, D.C.The 10th Circuit was split fromthe 9th, and the 11th from the 5th.
15 E. State Court Systems1. ________ Court = General Original Jurisdictiona. Most states have some courts of “limited originaljurisdiction”b. Usually subordinate to Trial Courtc. Jurisdiction normally expressly limited to particular kindsof cases (subject matter)2. Texas has one of the more complicated systems at this levelNOTE: 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 authorityState Supreme Court (Highest Appeals Court)Three judges; never a juryIntermediate Appellate CourtsCourts with “original” jurisdictionGeneral Civil DivisionGeneral Criminal DivisionSmall Claims DivisionJuvenile DivisionLand DivisionTrial Courts of General JurisdictionDomestic Relations DivisionMunicipal DivisionProbate DivisionOne judge; may have juryTrial Courts of Limited (or Specific) Jurisdiction Name and authority vary greatly between statesOne judge; may have juryTexas Courts Structure
17 2. Intermediate Court of Appeal [an “appellate” court a. Must hear appeal from _________________b. ONLY paper record; no evidence, no witnessesc. Decision is most often the last that can be obtainedd. Assumes that the facts determined by trial court are ______,reviews only for ________________4. Highest Courta Normally has discretion to hear/not hear appealb. Most states have provisions allowing direct appeal tohighest 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
18 V. SOME VERY GENERAL STATISTICS Most cases (over 90% ? ) are filed in state trial courts— Most of those are in courts of limited jurisdictionMost cases filed do NOT go to trial ( % depending on filing court)Small proportion of trial court judgments (3% - 5%) are appealedMost appealed cases (80+% of civil) are NOT reversed on appealOf 1,000s of requests, U.S. Supreme Court hears cases per yearIn 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 appealhas expired without appeal)