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Connecticut’s Court System: Differences from your texts

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1 Connecticut’s Court System: Differences from your texts
State of Connecticut Division of Criminal Justice OFFICE OF THE CHIEF STATE’S ATTORNEY Christopher L. Morano Chief State’s Attorney Connecticut’s Court System: Differences from your texts Presented by: Francis J. Carino Supervisory Juvenile Prosecutor 2005 Teacher Conference Cromwell, CT October 13, 2005

2 United States Federal Court Structure
U. S. Supreme Court U. S. Court of Appeals U. S. District Court Special Courts

3 United States Federal Court Structure
Created in Article III of the Constitution; Consists of the Chief Justice and eight associate justices; Hears and decide cases involving important questions about the interpretation and fair application of the Constitution and federal law; Cases typically come to the Supreme Court as appeals to decisions of lower federal and state courts. U. S. Supreme Court

4 United States Federal Court Structure
U. S. Supreme Court U. S. Court of Appeals Each of the 12 regional circuits has one U.S. Court of Appeals. Hears appeals to decisions of the district courts located within its circuit and appeals to decisions of federal regulatory agencies. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction and hears specialized cases like patent and international trade cases. Connecticut is part of the 2nd Circuit with its U. S. Court of Appeals located in New York.

5 United States Federal Court Structure
U. S. Supreme Court U. S. Court of Appeals Considered the trial courts of the federal judicial system; There are 94 district courts, located within the 12 regional circuits; Hear practically all cases involving federal civil and criminal laws; Decisions of the district courts are typically appealed to the district's court of appeals.  The Connecticut federal court houses are located in Hartford, New Haven, Bridgeport and Waterbury. U. S. District Court

6 United States Federal Court Structure
U. S. Supreme Court U. S. Court of Appeals U. S. District Court Special Courts Special courts with nationwide jurisdiction: U.S. Court of International Trade - U.S. trade with foreign countries and customs issues. U.S. Court of Federal Claims - monetary damage claims against the U.S. government, federal contract disputes and “takings” or claiming of land by the federal government.

7 Connecticut State Court Structure
Supreme Court Appellate Court Superior Court Probate Court

8 Connecticut State Court Structure
State's highest court. Chief Justice and 6 associate justices. Five justices hear and decide each case. A full court of seven may hear important cases. Reviews Superior Court decisions and certain decisions of the Appellate Court. Does not hear witnesses or receive evidence. It decides each case on: the record of lower court proceedings; briefs, used by counsel to convey the essential points of each party's case; oral argument based on the content of the briefs. Certain appeals may be brought directly to the Supreme Court from the Superior Court: when a provision of the state constitution or a state statute is found to be invalid convictions of capital felonies. May transfer to itself any matter filed in the Appellate Court, and may agree to review decisions of the Appellate Court through a process called certification. With a few exceptions, the Court may transfer any matter pending before it to the Appellate Court. Supreme Court

9 Connecticut State Court Structure
Supreme Court Appellate Court Chief Judge and eight other Appellate Court judges. Three judges hear and decide each case. Occasionally all nine judges may sit and participate in the decision. Reviews Superior Court decisions. Like the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court does not hear witnesses, but renders its decision based upon: the record of lower court proceedings; briefs, which are used by counsel to convey the essential points of each party's case; oral argument based on the content of the briefs. Upon certification, an Appellate Court decision may be reviewed by the Supreme Court.

10 Connecticut State Court Structure
Supreme Court Appellate Court Superior Court Connecticut State Court Structure 15 judicial districts (major criminal cases, civil matters and family cases) 22 geographical areas (other civil and criminal matters) 14 juvenile districts. (juvenile matters and probate appeals) 5 special housing court sessions-Bpt, Htfd, NH, Stam/Nor & Wtby Civil Division: hears cases where one party (plaintiff) sues another (defendant) over civil, personal or property rights. landlord-tenant issues, accidents, contracts, product or professional liability or to recover money damages. Cases may be tried to the judge or to a jury, depending on the nature of the claim and the preference of the parties. Criminal Division: hears cases where a person (defendant) is accused of breaking the criminal law (felonies, misdemeanors, violations and infractions) by the state, represented by a state's attorney. Housing Division: hears housing cases in special sessions or the regular civil docket. Family Division: hears family matters (divorce, child custody and support) and juvenile matters (delinquency, FWSN, YIC, child abuse/neglect & termination of parental rights.)

11 Connecticut State Court Structure
Probate Court Supreme Court Appellate Court Superior Court Connecticut State Court Structure Hears matters involving the estates of minors, deceased persons, testamentary trusts, adoptions, conservators, commitment of the mentally ill and guardians of the persons. 123 Districts, each with one judge, elected to a 4 year term by the electors of the probate district. Probate judges need not be attorneys. They are paid from court fees.

12 CONNECTICUT’S JUVENILE COURT

13 Types of Cases Handled Civil Session: uncared-for children and youth,
neglected children and youth, dependent children and youth, termination of parental rights of children, families with service needs (FWSN), youth in crisis (YIC) emancipation of minors Criminal session: all proceedings concerning delinquent children persons sixteen and older who are under the supervision of a juvenile probation officer while on probation or suspended commitment to DCF, for purposes of enforcing any orders entered as part of probation or suspended commitment.

14 Delinquency Cases Delinquency cases involve a child who prior to attaining sixteen years of age has violated: 1. any: federal or state law (including infractions) or municipal or local ordinance any: order of the Superior Court suspended detention order FWSN order condition of probation

15 Dispositional Options - Delinquency
Dispositional Alternatives: Dismiss with a warning; Probation; counseling; community service; restitution; drug testing; essay; apology; Suspended Commitment to DCF; Commitment to DCF; 18 months/4 years (SJO); Residential Facility/Juvenile Training School;

16 FWSN Cases FWSN Offenses involve a child (under 16) who:
has without just cause run away from their parental home or other properly authorized & lawful place of abode; 2. is beyond the control of his/her parent, parents, guardian or other custodian; 3. has engaged in indecent or immoral conduct; 4. is a truant or habitual truant; while in school, has been continuously and overtly defiant of school rules and regulations; is thirteen years of age or older and has engaged in sexual intercourse with another person and such other person is thirteen years of age or older and not more than two years older or younger than such child;

17 Dispositional Options - FWSN
refer the child to DCF for voluntary services; order the child to remain in his own home or in the custody of a relative or any other suitable person subject to the supervision of a probation officer; commit that child to the care and custody of the DCF for an indefinite period not to exceed eighteen months;

18 Youth In Crisis Cases A Youth in Crisis is a person (16 or 17 years old) who within the last two years: 1. has without just cause run away from their parental home or other properly authorized and lawful place of abode; is beyond the control of his/her parent, parents, guardian or other custodian; has four unexcused absences from school in any one month or ten unexcused absences in any school year;

19 Dispositional Options - YIC
direct DMV to suspend the youth’s license for up to one year; require work or specified community service; mandate that the youth in crisis attend an educational program in the local community approved by the court; require mental health services; refer the youth to a youth service bureau, provided one exists in the local community; review the option of emancipation;

20 FWSN/YIC Cases If there is a violation of a FWSN order:
The child has committed a delinquent act by reason of having violated a valid court order and is subject to all of the sanctions available in delinquency cases. Only until 10/1/07! If there is a violation of a YIC order: A youth in crisis found to be in violation of a court order shall not be considered to be delinquent and shall not be punished by the court by incarceration in any state operated detention facility or correctional facility.

21 Summary of Juvenile Court Jurisdiction
Commit a crime prior to 16 Delinquency Runaway from home Beyond Control of parent Engage in Indecent/Immoral Conduct Truant from school Defiant of School Rules Engage in Sexual Intercourse prior to 16 FWSN Runaway from home Beyond Control of parent Truant from school 16 or 17 YIC

22 Confidentiality All juvenile information and records are confidential and not subject to disclosure. Exceptions – certain information may be released: to the police when a child is arrested for certain serious crimes when a child escapes from detention or placement when a child is the subject of a felony arrest warrant to the superintendent if arrested for certain offenses to a school expulsion panel the victim

23 Age Time Line Juvenile Court Adult Court 16
Person’s age on date of offense 13 No matter how serious the crime or how extensive the prior record might be, except for a “serious sexual offender,”a child under age fourteen cannot be transferred. 14 Fourteen is the minimum age for transfer to the adult court.

24 Consequences of a Transfer
to the Adult Court A child transferred from the juvenile court to the adult court loses all juvenile protections including the right to: be kept separate from adult offenders; confidentiality; a maximum sentence of four years in a juvenile facility; get their record erased; automatic suppression of statements made to police without a parent present;

25 Miscellaneous Information
Magistrate: A person who is not a judge but who is authorized to hear and decide certain types of cases. Family Support Magistrates are appointed by the Governor for three year terms to hear cases involving paternity and child and spousal support. They are quasi-judicial officers. They are not judges, but perform some judicial functions. Their jurisdiction extends to child support cases which include both welfare recipients and those who have paid a fee and applied for state help collecting child support. Family Support Magistrates establish, modify and enforce child and spousal support orders and hear paternity proceedings unless a party has demanded a jury trial. Their duties are described in Conn. Gen. Stat. Sections 46b-231. Small Claims Court Magistrates are not judges but are specially appointed lawyers to handle cases filed in the Small Claims part of the Civil Division of the Superior Court. In Small Claims Court, a person can sue for amounts of up to $3500 except where the suit is brought for the return of a security deposit. In this situation ONLY, the plaintiff may sue for double the amount of the security deposit, plus accrued interest, even if the doubled amount brings the claim over the $3500 jurisdictional limit. An attorney is not needed. Simple rules of evidence apply, instead of complex rules. There is no right to appeal the outcome.

26 Miscellaneous Information
Motor Vehicle Infractions Magistrates hear motor vehicle infraction tickets. An infraction is a violation of state criminal law for which the only sentence authorized is a fine. A person is noticed of an infraction through a written summons rather than being arrested and taken into custody. No bail is required. A person charged with an infraction can pay the fine by mail or in person to the Superior Court's centralized infractions bureau on or before the date specified on the summons. The payment of the fine is considered a plea of nolo contendere and is inadmissible in any other criminal or civil proceeding against the defendant. A plea of not guilty is transferred to a state's attorney for review. The Superior Court has established a magistrate hearing process to adjudicate the cases.

27 Miscellaneous Information
Justice of the Peace The office of Justice of the Peace originated in England and was brought to this country by the early colonists. The office existed in Connecticut in some form from the beginning of the colony. Historically in the State of Connecticut the role of the Justice of the Peace has diminished over the years. At one time when this state had a multi-tiered Court system with substantial judicial business being conducted by the municipal and city Court judges, the elected Justice of the Peace had substantial authority with respect to the administration of minor Courts in this State. Over the years the scope of authority of this elected official has been narrowed so that in 1984 the role of the Justice of the Peace is limited to certain grants of authority enumerated by statute. Justices of the Peace have general oath giving powers (Conn. Gen. Stat. §1-24), may take acknowledgements (C.G.S. §1-29), may join persons in marriage (C.G.S. §46b-22), and may take depositions (C.G.S. §52-148c). There are also several statutory grants of power regarding specific documents. Justices of the Peace are elected to a four-year term. A Connecticut Justice of the Peace can perform a marriage or civil union anywhere in the state. On October 1, 2005, Civil Unions became legal in Connecticut.

28 Helpful Websites for Teachers:
Federal Court Information: Connecticut State Court information: (Click on “courts” in the left column) Juvenile Court Information: Justices of the Peace Information:

29 Presented by: Francis J. Carino Supervisory Juvenile Prosecutor Office of the Chief State’s Attorney 300 Corporate Place Rocky Hill, CT Tel.: (860) Fax: (860) Voice Pager: (860)


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