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The American Legal System

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Presentation on theme: "The American Legal System"— Presentation transcript:

1 The American Legal System

2 Types of Courts Trial Courts Appellate Courts
All cases start at the trial court level; Judges and juries decide matters of fact and law; Witnesses testify; Evidence presented; The initial determination of guilt/liability is made. Appellate Courts Cases come here after after trial court; Judges decide issues of law only; No juries or witnesses testify and no evidence is presented; Attorneys submit briefs and present oral arguments to a panel of judges. The judge’s decision becomes precedent

3 Federal Court Jurisdiction
Federal Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction: Federal Question - All cases involving the Constitution, federal laws or treaties; Includes Bankruptcies Diversity - Cases between citizens of different states or between U.S. citizens and citizens of other countries; Ambassadors or Public Ministers* Admiralty or Maritime U.S. is a party* State v. State

4 Federal District Court
The trial courts in the federal system are known as district courts; Hear both civil and criminal cases; Have original jurisdiction over most federal cases; The U.S. is divided into 94 districts, each district has at least one district court; California is divided into four districts San Diego is in the Southern District of California Federal District Court for the Southern District of California

5 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal
The intermediate appellate courts in the federal court system are known as the Circuit Courts; Created to ease the burden on the Supreme Court; By law, you are entitled one appeal; The Court may either: Uphold; Reverse and/or Remand back to the Trial Court The Court’s decision is binding precedent: Other lower courts must follow their interpretation of the law - they can only be overruled by the Supreme Court

6 U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
The U.S. is divided into 12 circuits based on region: Each Circuit has one Court of Appeals; California is in the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia (D.C. Circuit) Court of Appeal for the Federal Circuit Hears cases from the Federal Court of Claims, Court of International Trade, U.S. Patent Court

7 U.S. Supreme Court Comprised of nine judges (Justices)
Judges are appointed by the President; Serve for life (during good behavior); Original Jurisdiction; U.S. is a party; Cases involving ambassadors/public ministers Appellate Jurisdiction - Highest appellate court in the country: Court only hears approx. 3% of all cases appealed to it from lower federal courts or state courts; Final authority on the interpretation of federal law;

8 State Courts Superior Courts - State trial courts;
General jurisdiction - hears all type of cases; Superior Court for the County of San Diego Courts of Appeal - Intermediate appellate courts, not all states have this level; California is divided into six appellate districts; Court of Appeal for the State of California, Fourth Appellate District, Division One State Supreme Courts - Final authority on the interpretation of state law; California State Supreme Court

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