3 What is the Judicial Branch? Federal Courts & the Supreme CourtWorks alongside the state’s court systemsOnly hears certain types of cases (all others go through state courts)
4 Purpose of CourtsUse the law to settle civil disputes (disagreements) and decide on guilt or innocence of people accused of crimes“Equal justice for all”: main purpose of the legal system is to treat every person the same
5 Federal Court System Created in Article III of Constitution Made up of three parts:Supreme CourtAppeals CourtsDistrict CourtsMost cases are heard in the state courts
6 Jurisdiction Court’s authority to hear and decide a case The Federal Court System has jurisdiction to hear 8 kinds of cases.
7 Cases heard in Federal Courts Cases involving the ConstitutionViolations of federal lawControversies between statesDisputes between parties from different statesSuits involving the federal governmentCases involving foreign governments & treatiesCases based on admiralty & maritime lawsCases involving US Diplomats
8 Working with the State Courts In most of these areas, federal courts have exclusive jurisdictionExclusive Jurisdiction: only these courts may hear & decide certain casesIn some cases, the state and federal courts have concurrent jurisdictionConcurrent Jurisdiction: both states and federal courts may hear & decide cases
9 Concurrent Jurisdiction Examples of cases with Concurrent Jurisdiction:Cases that violate both state and federal lawsCases involving citizens from different states
10 How Federal Courts are Organized Chapter 8Section 2
12 U.S. District Courts District Courts All federal trials begin in the district courts because they have original jurisdictionoriginal jurisdiction: authority to hear a case the first timeEach state has at least one district courtDistrict courts are the only federal courts in which witnesses testify & juries hear & decide cases
13 U.S. Court of Appeals (also called Federal Appeals Court, Circuit Court of Appeals & Appellate Court)Appeals CourtIf a person loses his/her case in the District Court, he/she can have the case reviewed by the Appeals Court because it has appellate jurisdictionAppellate Jurisdiction: court’s authority to hear a case appealed from a lower courtThere are 13 US courts of appeals called circuitsThe 13th appeals court has nationwide jurisdiction, meaning it can hear special cases
15 Types of Decisions in Appeals Courts Appeals Courts trials have only a judge, no juriesThey may make one of three possible decisions:Uphold original decisionReverse the original decisionRemand (send back) to lower court to be retried
16 Announcing the Decision When the court decides, one judge writes the court opinion, or decisionThis sets a precedent for other courts in the future to look at if a similar situation happens
17 Federal Judges 550+ federal judges President appoints judges & Senate must approveSenatorial Courtesy: president submits name to senators from candidate’s state to make sure they approveJudges are appointed for lifeOnly removed through impeachment
18 Other Court Officers Magistrate Judges: handle routine work Example: search & arrest warrantsU.S. Attorneys: government lawyersRepresent US government in civil casesAppointed to 4-year terms by Pres. (approval by Senate)Report to U.S. Attorney General (Head of Justice Department)U.S. MarshalMake arrests, collect fines, protect jurors, serve papers (such as subpoenas: order requiring someone to appear in court), etc.Appointed by Pres. (approval of Senate)
19 The United States Supreme Court Chapter 8Section 3
20 Supreme Court Jurisdiction SC has original jurisdiction in only 2 casesCases involving diplomats from foreign countriesCases involving statesAll other cases begin in the District Courts.
21 SC Justices 9 Justices (one is the “Chief Justice”) Choose cases to hear from many thousands each yearAppointed by Pres & Confirmed by SenateAll former lawyers
22 SC Justices John Roberts (Chief Justice) Elena Kagan (confirmed in May 2010)Stephen BreyerAntonin ScaliaClarence ThomasAnthony KennedyRuth Bader GinsburgSamuel AlitoSonia Sotomayor (confirmed in May 09)
23 Milestones in Justice History First African American Justice: Thurgood Marshall (1967)First Female Justice: Sandra Day O’Connor (1981)First Hispanic Justice: Sonia Sotomayor (2009)
26 Powers of the SCJudicial Review: decide whether any federal, state or local law or government action is constitutional, or allowed by the ConstitutionSC gained this power after Marbury v. MadisonMain job of courts is to interpret laws, or decide what laws actually mean
27 Marbury v. Madison Established power of judicial review Also, established that Constitution is supreme law of the landIn a conflict between Constitution and other law, Constitution rules (“Supremacy Clause”)Judicial Branch can nullify, or cancel, laws that conflict with Constitution. They will declare the law unconstitutional.
28 Checks & BalancesJudicial Branch can check and be checked by the other two branches of governmentExamples: President appoints justices, SC can nullify law, etc.
29 Turn to Page 205How does the number of cases heard compare to the number of cases that are decided by the Supreme Court?
30 Deciding Cases at the Supreme Court Chapter 8Section 4
31 How Cases Reach the Court Supreme Court conducts business from October-June/JulyEach month they spend:2 weeks listening to oral arguments2 weeks writing opinions/studying other cases200 cases heard each year (out of 7,000 submitted)
32 Steps in Decision Making Written Argument: Each lawyer writes a briefOral Argument: Each lawyer presents his side for 30 min.Conference: Judges meet to decide case.Majority opinion: explains the court’s final decision or rulingDissenting opinion: written by justice/justices who disagree with majority opinion & explains their opinion on the caseConcurring opinion: agree with majorityAnnouncement of decision
33 Influences on the Judge The law should be the most important influence in a judge’s decision!Stare Decisis: “let the decision stand” means decisions in previous cases should be used as precedent for future cases. The laws should be interpreted the same way by judges.Judges should rely on precedent, but they must also change with the times.Ex. Segregation was acceptable to society in the 1950s, but not in the 1960s.
34 Criminal v. Civil CasesCriminal: person/people commit crime & are prosecuted by the governmentProsecution: government proving a crime was committedDefendant: person accused of crime who is being prosecutedCivil: one party suing another partyPlaintiff: party that is suingDefendant: party being sued**There are both criminal and civil cases in both the state and federal court systems.
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