2 Judicial BranchThe Judicial Branch interprets laws and determines if they are constitutional.Main job – serve as the final court of appeals.Made up of the Supreme Court & more than 100 other federal courts.
3 Types of Legal Conflicts The legal system resolves conflicts/disputes.Criminal case – a court determines whether a person accused of breaking a law is innocent or guilty. If found guilty, the court also decides the punishment.Civil case – a court settles a disagreement.Ex. Broken contract, divorce, violations of constitutional rights
4 Criminal CaseThe Prosecution (government body) brings a criminal charge against a defendant who is accused of breaking one of its lawsEx. People of the State of Kentucky v. Smith
5 Civil CaseCase is brought to court by a party called the plaintiff (an individual or a group of people) who bring a complaint against another party.The party who answers a complaint and defends against it is called the defendant.Ex. Burke v. Techno Corporation
6 Role of the Courts To provide a fair trial. Ensure equal justice for all citizens.Judge must remain neutral and not take sides.Many cases involve a jury which decides the facts of a case.
7 Court DecisionsCase brought against the accused must be so convincing that there is no reasonable doubt in jurors’ minds.If people are found guilty they have the right to appeal.
8 Right to a Fair Trial Right to have a lawyer. Right to be released on reasonable bail before the trial is held.Right to be considered innocent until proven guilty.Right to expect grand jury to find enough evidence before an indictment is made.Right to a jury trial.Right to not testify against oneself.Right to hear and question all witnesses.Right to appeal the verdict if there is reason to believe that the person did not receive a fair trial.
9 Interpreting the LawIn the process of hearing a case, a court may have to decide:what the law in question means.if the law is allowed by the Constitution.Can establish precedent – a guideline for how all similar cases should be decided in the future.
10 JurisdictionJurisdiction – authority to interpret and administer the law.Original jurisdiction – authority to hear a legal case first.Appellate jurisdiction –authority to hear an appeal.
11 US Supreme Court Highest court in the land. Meets in Washington D.C. Works as an appeals court reviewing cases from lower courts.Supreme Courts decisions are final, they can not be appealed.Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in following cases:Involving diplomatic reps of other nations.Disputes between states.Cases involving state & federal government.
12 Supreme Court Justices The size of the Supreme Court is determined by Congress.The number of judges has been nine since 1869.The Court has a Chief Justice and eight associate justices.Term for Justices is life.All Federal Court justices must be appointed by the President and approved by Senate.No constitutional requirements for judge.Inside the Supreme Court
13 Judicial ReviewSupreme Court has the power to determine whether a law passed by Congress or a presidential action is in accord with the Constitution.Right to overturn a law.Justice John Marshall ( ) established judicial review and strengthened the Supreme Court’s power.
14 Court in Action Supreme Court receives thousands of cases each year. Only hears cases about constitutional issues ( ).Begins session on first Monday in October and adjourns in late June.The Supreme Court only hears cases that involve issues of significant public interest.Usually deals with important constitutional or national questions.If vote is a tie or court refuses to hear case, lower courts decision stands.
15 Court in Action ContOne of the justices, who voted with the majority, is assigned to write the opinion of the court.explains how they came about the decision.If a justice agrees with the majority but for different reasons they write the concurring opinion.Justices who disagree with the decision may explain in a dissenting opinion.Supreme Court opinions interpret the Constitution and show how to apply the law.
16 Supreme Courts Powers Checks on Courts: Courts Checks: Add an amendment to the constitutionPass a new law that follows the ConstitutionAppoint/approve justicesCourts Checks:Can rule a law is unconstitutional
17 Changing OpinionsThe Supreme Court has interpreted the Constitution differently at different times.The Justices are aware of changing social, political, and economic conditions which can sway their decisions.Ex. Plessy v. Ferguson & Brown v. BOERoe v. WadeBrown v. BOE
18 Strengthening Rights1966 Miranda v. Arizona declared that police must inform arrested suspects of their rights before they can be questioned.This case strengthened the rights of the accused according to some Americans, while others saw it as a protecting the rights of all Americans.
19 How does one become a Supreme Court Justice? Appointed by the president .Approved by Senate.Constitution lists no qualifications to be a Supreme Court Justice.The way we choose does help ensure that we get a qualified person.The president looks at a list of candidates of the most respected judges, lawyers and legal scholars in the country.Senate must approve.Road to Supreme Court