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Presentation on theme: "COURTS OF APPELLATE JURISDICTION"— Presentation transcript:


2 Introduction Errors inevitably occur in the court system
Appellate courts review issues of law The issues of law are related to decisions made by other courts and administrative agencies

3 Appellate court characteristics
No original jurisdiction Hear appeals from trial courts, administrative boards/agencies Collegial courts Courts of record Appellate court functions Correct errors of law made by trial courts, administrative boards/agencies Takes place primarily in the intermediate appellate courts Responsible for developing law Takes place primarily in the courts of last resort

4 Structure of State Appellate Courts
Variation among the states 39 states have intermediate appellate courts Recent addition to state court structure Courts may meet at a central location Court judges may “ride circuit” to meet at different locations Court may have regional divisions State variation on number of judges Dispose of most state appeals Some may be appealed to the state court of last resort

5 Structure of State Appellate Courts
Courts of Last Resort Name variation Size variation Selection method variation Election Appointment Merit selection Most justices serve fixed terms (6-12 years) Methods of discipline or removal from office Board or commission addresses judicial conduct and discipline Charges handled by board or sent to the state supreme court Outcomes range from a reprimand to dismissal from office Civil appeals and death penalty decisions comprise most of the court’s work

6 U.S. Courts of Appeals Also called Circuit Courts
Created by the Judiciary Act of 1789 Circuit Court of Appeals Act of 1891 changed court function Handle the majority of federal appeals Caseload State cases but appealed to federal district courts Cases that originated in federal district courts Small percentage of cases are appealed and few go beyond Courts of Appeals Increasing number of cases filed and terminated

7 U.S. Supreme Court Created by Article III of the Constitution
Increasing number of cases filed and terminated Broad jurisdiction Original jurisdiction is rarely exercised Functions Judicial review Applies to acts of lower courts, legislatures, and executive officers Fundamental part of the U.S. constitutional system Docket control Writs of certiorari Discretionary review Independent calendar (first Monday in October until late June or early July) The Supreme Court may not have the final word on an issue Constitutional amendment Congressional legislation Executive enforcement Supreme Court has significant symbolic authority

8 Judges and Justices of Appellate Courts
Appointed by President and confirmed by Senate Have life tenure May be removed through impeachment Extremely elite group Most are white males Prominent families Prestigious legal education Successful legal careers Increasing numbers of women and minorities

9 Appellate Court Decision Making
Collegial courts Cases are decided by groups of judges Often sit in 3-judge panels Court may sit en banc (as one body) Important or controversial cases U.S. Supreme Court Many state supreme courts

10 Requirements for Appeal
Error of law Objection to error must be made Appeal must be timely State remedies must be exhausted, if applicable Court cannot issue advisory opinions Appealing party must have the resources to undertake an appeal Constitutional right only extends to first-level appeals Special interest groups may finance the appeal

11 Workloads of Appellate Courts
Smaller workload than trial courts Solutions to increasing caseload Adding judges State courts are reluctant to increase the number of justices State supreme courts hear cases en banc Creating or expanding intermediate appellate courts Resulted in an increase in filings with intermediate appeals courts 39 states have at least one intermediate appellate court Deciding cases in panels Most intermediate appellate courts utilize this approach Allows for caseload division En banc hearings are reserved for noteworthy cases

12 Additional Solutions to Increasing Caseload
Employing law clerks and staff attorneys Responsibilities Supply information to judges Analyze the parties’ arguments Conduct legal research May result in bureaucracy and other issues May increase quantity but not quality of outcomes Deciding cases without opinion Unpublished and memorandum opinions Curtailing oral arguments Using summary judgments

13 The Mechanisms for Appeal
Mandatory/Automatic Appeals Court is obligated to review the case May result from state or federal constitutional provisions, or state statutes Most common in intermediate appellate courts Discretionary Appeals Court has the option of accepting or rejecting the appeal Most common in courts of last resort Gives courts of last resort more control over their own dockets

14 Federal Post-Conviction Relief
Called collateral relief Writs of habeas corpus Ask the state to prove that an inmate’s incarceration is lawful May result in a new trial or reversal of conviction Increase in habeas corpus filings Civil rights action 42 U.S.C. § 1983 Civil rights violations by police officers Unconstitutional conditions by corrections officials Raises issues about conditions of confinement May be civil or criminal

15 The Outcomes of Appeal Few cases are successful on appeal
Most people receive the sentence originally imposed


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