2 The Judicial BranchThe basic function of the courts is to interpret and apply the law to settle conflicts
3 Civil Cases-The court acts as a kind of referee to set disputes between two or more parties-A typical case begins when one party sues another.-The party who bring legal action is called the plaintiff-Most cases do not result in a trial they are settled “out of court”-A civil court does not find anyone guilty or not guilty
4 Criminal Cases-The state prosecutes someone charged with committing a crime-Generally crimes offend the whole community, not just the individual victim-The government, not the individual victim, is the prosecution (district attorney)-It may find the defendant guilty as charged or not guilty
5 Judicial Review Cases-Reviewing rules or laws to determine if they violate the Constitution-Only higher-level state courts and federal courts exercise this power
6 Two levels of crimes one can commit FelonyMisdemeanorSerious crimePunishable by a year or more in prison and/or a fineExamples: arson, burglary, kidnapping, car theft, murder, robbery, and rapeLess serious crimePunishable by 1-12 months in jail and or a fine of $1,000 or lessExamples: concealed weapon, criminal trespass, cruelty to animals, and shoplifting
7 Compare and Contrast Original jurisdiction Appellate jurisdiction Has the authority to be the first court to hear the caseLabeled “trial courts”May use trial by jury or nonjury trials in which the judge alone hears the caseHas the authority to review decisions of lower courtsDo not hold trialsUse several judges who hear cases and make decisions as a body
8 How judges are selected Magistrate and Municipal court judges: are elected or appointedState and Probate court judges: elected to four year terms in county wide electionsSuperior court judges: elected to four year terms in circuit wide electionsSupreme and Appellate court justices: elected to six year, staggered terms in state wide elections-Choose one of their number to be chief justice
9 Due Process (a clause of the 5th Amendment) Rights and procedures guaranteed by several amendments:-Be notified of charges against you (6th)-Be provided a speedy and public trial (6th)-Be able to confront witnesses (6th)-Be represented by a lawyer (6th)-Have an impartial judge and jury (7th)-Remain silent (5th)
19 Twelve jurors and at least one alternate are selected to hear the case Jury SelectionTwelve jurors and at least one alternate are selected to hear the case
20 Prosecution and defense state what they expect to prove to the jury Opening StatementsProsecution and defense state what they expect to prove to the jury
21 Presentation of the Case Prosecution presents evidence and witnesses to prove its case. Defense presents evidence and witnesses to discredit the prosecution’s case.
22 Defense and prosecution make final arguments to the jury Closing StatementsDefense and prosecution make final arguments to the jury
23 Jury Deliberation and Verdict Jury considers evidence and makes a decision. If the verdict is not guilty, the defendant is freed.
24 SentencingIf the verdict is guilty, judge determines (within limits set by law) what the sentence will be
25 Appeal-If a defendant feels that he or she did not receive a fair trial, he can appeal the decision to a higher court.-The appellate court examines the trial record for errors.-If overturned, the case goes back to the supreme court.-If upheld, the sentence is carried out.