Criminal vs. Civil Laws Criminal Law- Protects society. Assault, murder, rape, robbery, etc. Civil Law – Disputes between people. Divorce, contract disputes, restitution, property, etc.
4 Kinds of Law Statutory – Laws passed by lawmaking bodies. Legislative Laws Common – Laws based on common sense, usually decided from previous cases. (Precedent) Administrative – Laws that affect daily life made by govt. agencies. Constitutional – Law based on Constitution and Supreme Court decisions.
Role of the Court Courts settle disputes, apply law, reaches decision. U.S. law assumes person is innocent until proven guilty Determined by trial in court of law.
U.S. Court System There are three levels of courts in our Federal System. Each Court is given jurisdiction (extent of a court’s authority) over different kinds of cases. Two types of jurisdiction: Original Appellate (appeals)
District Courts Lowest court in Fed Courts, has Original Jurisdiction (hear case 1 st ). All Federal Judges are appointed for life by the President. Cases lost here may be seen in the U.S. Court of Appeals
U.S. Court of Appeals Has Appellate Jurisdiction (review decisions made by lower courts). Do not hold trials, Examine the case and hear arguments from representatives of each side of the case. May send back to district for new trial or uphold the decision. Sometimes a 2 nd appeal is made to the Supreme Court.
Supreme Court Highest Court, has Appellate & Original Jurisdiction in some cases. Appeal – reviews cases of lower courts and appeals court. Cannot be Appealed. Original – 3 types of cases With diplomats of other countries. Between states. Between State and Federal govt.
Judicial Review Many laws are later found unconstitutional. Judicial Review is the power of the Supreme Court to decide if something is unconstitutional. The case of Marbury vs. Madison was the creation and 1 st use of Judicial Review.
Selection of Cases 7,000 cases go to the Supreme Court each year. Only 130 – 150 get seen. 4 of 9 Justices must approve to even hear a case. Select those that deal with most constitutional and national questions.
Supreme Court Appeal Process Not a trial. Lawyers have 30 minutes to present their case to the Justices. Justices review previous discussion and evidence. Then meet in private for a vote of simple majority. The reason for decision is an opinion. Justices may also have a dissenting (disagreeing) or concurrent (same side, different reasons) opinion, which must be noted.
Supreme Court Justices 9 Justices, one selected as Chief Justice and 8 associate judges. Justices chosen by President and appointed for life (after approval by Senate). Only Removed by Impeachment.
Other Cases of Importance Scott v. Sanford – Slaves are property, Worst S.C. decision of all time; overturned. Plessy v. Ferguson – Held up Segregation. Brown v. Board of Ed. – Overturned Segregation in schools. Miranda v. Arizona – Miranda Rights established. Roe v. Wade – Allows abortion. Texas v. Johnson – Flag Burning is free speech.