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The Judicial Branch of Georgia’s Government

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1 The Judicial Branch of Georgia’s Government
Essential Question: How does Georgia’s judicial system provide justice and protect the rights of its citizens?

2 What is the primary role of the Judicial Branch in Georgia?
Interpret the state’s constitution Protect the legal rights of citizens Ensure justice

3 Georgia Court System Elected by GA Voters 6 Year Terms
Appointed by Judges 4 Year Terms

4 State Supreme Court Highest ranking court in Georgia
7 supreme court justices are elected by popular vote to six-year terms If a justice dies/resigns before the end of a term, the governor may appoint a justice to complete his/her term of office Supreme court justices elect the chief justice from among themselves

5 The Supreme Court is an appellate court, which means it only reviews cases on appeal from lower-ranking courts. Also reviews cases dealing with constitutionality of laws, title to land, equity, wills, habeas corpus, divorce and alimony It automatically reviews cases involving the death penalty. State Supreme Court

6 State Supreme Court It outlines a code for judicial conduct for the judges of the state and regulates the admission of attorneys to practice law in Georgia. Supreme Court decisions are binding – they have the final authority in matters of law at the state level Only court that could change the decision is the U.S. Supreme Court

7 Court of Appeals The second highest-ranking state court is the court of appeals. Appellate court 12 judges elected to 6 year terms Judges elect one of their members to serve as chief judge

8 Trial Courts Hear original cases – criminal and civil
Each court has a special jurisdiction (range of actions over which the court has control or influence) Juvenile court – cases involving persons under the age of 17 Probate court – deals with wills and estates of deceased persons, marriage & firearm licenses Magistrate court – can only hear civil cases involving sums under $15,000

9 Jury Trial An important part of Georgia’s court system is the jury trial – a trial before one’s peers. Grand Jury – determines whether or not persons accused of crimes should be indicted (officially charged) and required to stand trial. Trial Jury – group of citizens who are charged with judging a person charged with a crime.

10 What are the four types of laws?
Constitutional laws – laws from the constitution Statutory Laws – those passed by the General Assembly Administrative Laws – regulations of executive branch agencies Case Laws – court interpretations of written laws

11 Due Process of Law The U.S. Constitution says no state can deprive any citizen of life, liberty or property without due process of law. This means that persons arrested for a crime have the right to: have a lawyer present during questioning a speedy, public trial before a fair judge/jury face and question witnesses remain silent so as not to incriminate (blame) themselves.

12 Two Types of Cases Civil Cases – cases involving private disputes between two or more persons or groups (divorce, contracts, property ownership, etc.) The case is brought by a person or group seeking monetary damages. The plaintiff (the person bringing the lawsuit against another) has to show guilt of the other party. The defendant (person named as the wrong-doer) can be forced to testify.

13 Two Types of Cases Criminal Cases – cases involving violations of the law, actions that harm people and society The government (prosecuting attorney) seeks punishment for a crime. The defendant has the right to defend himself or he can choose not to testify (5th Amendment). The prosecution must prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

14 Written response Why is there such a difference between civil and criminal law? Life and liberty are at stake in a criminal case. Our society considers them to be much more important that money.

15 Two Types of Crimes Crimes are divided into felonies and misdemeanors
Felony – serious crime such as murder or burglary, punishable by a year or more in prison, a fine of at least $1,000, or both Misdemeanor – less serious crime punishable by less than a year in prison, a fine of less than $1,000, or both

16 Steps in the Criminal Justice Process
Step 1: Arraignment ~ Within hours of being arrested the judge reviews the case and decides if there is probable cause for arrest. No evidence is presented. Step 2: Bail ~ If the suspect is not likely to flee, bail is set. A price is paid so that the suspect can still carry on with life like normal.

17 Steps in the Criminal Justice Process
Step 4: Preparing for Trial~ Continuances might be filed before the trial begins. This will give enough time for both sides to gather more evidence. Jurors are chosen. Step 3: Commitment Hearing ~ This is when the defendant pleads. The state prosecutor has to show “probable cause” that the suspect committed a crime.

18 Steps in the Criminal Justice Process
Step 5: Plea Bargaining ~ Sometimes the prosecution brings a plea bargain to the table. The suspect agrees to plead “guilty” before the trial starts, usually for a lighter sentence. No trial! Step 6: The Trial~ The prosecution and defense present their cases. It is up to the prosecution to prove guilt “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

19 How does our judicial branch ensure justice?
They make sure the laws are constitutional, decide the guilt or innocence in a fair manner, and designate a punishment that fits the crime.

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