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The Court System.  Judge: decide all legal issues in a lawsuit. If no jury, the judge’s job also includes determining the facts of the case.  Plaintiff.

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Presentation on theme: "The Court System.  Judge: decide all legal issues in a lawsuit. If no jury, the judge’s job also includes determining the facts of the case.  Plaintiff."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Court System

2  Judge: decide all legal issues in a lawsuit. If no jury, the judge’s job also includes determining the facts of the case.  Plaintiff (aka petitioner, claimant, or complainant): person who files the lawsuit. Claiming to have been injured, suffered property damage, or loss of some type because of the acts or omission of someone else.  Defendant (aka respondent): person claimed by the plaintiff to have caused the loss suffered by the plaintiff.  Party: term refers to either the plaintiff or the defendant.  Lawyers (Attorneys): Advocate for his or her client.  Witness: someone who has firsthand knowledge about something.

3  Expert witness: type of witness who testifies in a trial by giving his opinion about something. Are experts in the subject about which he will testify.  Clerks (aka court reporter): Person who sits next to the judge’ bench and records all testimony, arguments, and rulings on a stenograph machine.  Sheriffs or marshals: Sheriffs and their deputies serve as bailiffs – summon witnesses, keep order in court, and take steps to carry out judgments in the state court system. Marshals have these duties in the federal court system.  Jury: A group of 6 to 12 people who have been selected to decide a trial. Qualifications to be on jury are to live in the same judicial district where trial is occurring, to appear able to decide a case based only on the evidence presented during the trial, and to be able to understand what will take place during the trial.

4 Litigate = take dispute to court Many people decide to sue too quickly Try negotiation, first Mediator : Tries to develop a solution acceptable to both sides of the dispute. Actions of mediator are advisory, not binding. Arbitrator : Decisions are binding on both parties Court = Governmental forum that administers justice under the law  Levels of Courts  Trial courts  Appellate courts  Supreme Courts

5 Trial Courts = first court to hear a dispute  Original jurisdiction over a case.  Witnesses testify and other information is presented to prove alleged facts.  Also called district courts  One judge or jury decides verdict

6 Appellate Courts = reviews decisions of lower courts when a party claims an error was made during the previous proceeding.  Do not hear witnesses or accept new evidence.  Concerned with errors of law instead of questions of fact  Examine transcript (record of what went on at trial)  Read appellate briefs (written arguments on the issues of law) submitted by the opposing attorneys.  Decider if decision of lower court should be affirmed (upheld), reversed (overturned), amended (changed), or remanded (sent back to the trial court for corrective action or possibly a new trial).

7 3 Levels of federal courts  Federal district courts  Federal court of appeals  U.S. Supreme Court  A court with special jurisdiction hears only one specific type of case

8 Federal District Courts: trial court of the federal system  Original jurisdiction over:  federal questions, or cases that arise under the Constitution, U.S. law, and U.S. treaties; and  lawsuits between citizens of different states, between a U.S. citizen and a foreign nation, or between a U.S. citizen and a citizen of a foreign nation  More than $75,000 must be in dispute in federal diversity of citizenship lawsuits.

9 Federal Court of Appeals  When result of a case in a lower court is appealed by one or more of the parties to the case  Do not accept new evidence or call witnesses  Review the trial transcripts and written and oral arguments of the attorneys  No appellate court, not even the USSC, can change the factual determinations of a jury.  13 federal court of appeals

10 United States Supreme Court  Both original and appellate jurisdiction  Original jurisdiction: cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers and consuls and those in which a state shall be party.  If USSC believes a case contains a constitutional issue sufficiently important to be decided by it, the SC will issue a writ of certiorari to the last court that heard the case. This “writ” or order compels the state court to turn over the record of the case to the SC

11 State legal system resembles the federal system. State Trial Courts State Court of Appeals: judges at appellate level check to be sure correct law was used to resolve the case and that factual findings of the judge or jury are supported by evidence. State Supreme Courts Justices : title given to judges who sit on state supreme courts and the federal Supreme Court.

12 Below circuit court level are courts that take care of minor jurisdiction.  Associate circuit court: Minor criminal cases, state traffic offenses, and lawsuits in which relatively small amounts are involved (no more than $25,000)  City or municipal courts: usually divided into traffic and criminal divisions  Small claims courts: handle disputes with amounts less than $2,500  Probate courts: administer wills and estates  Juvenile courts: younger members of society (between 13 and 18)  Focus is usually on rehabilitation, not punishment

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