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AmNG Lecture 10 The Courts & Law. Today’s Concepts. Article III (Judicial Function) **Common Law **Stare Decisis Civil Law **District Courts & Original Jurisdiction **Appellate Courts & Appellate Jurisdiction Majority Opinion Writ of Certiorari Swing Justice **Judicial Review

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Amng lecture 10 the courts law

AmNG Lecture 10The Courts & Law


Today s concepts
Today’s Concepts

  • Article III (Judicial Function)

  • **Common Law

  • **Stare Decisis

  • Civil Law

  • **District Courts & Original Jurisdiction

  • **Appellate Courts & Appellate Jurisdiction

  • Majority Opinion

  • Writ of Certiorari

  • Swing Justice

  • **Judicial Review

  • **Judicial Activist

  • **Judicial Restraint


Three functions of government
Three Functions of Government

  • Article I & The (Legislative Function): establishes the powers and responsibilities of the Legislative Branch. (make laws)

  • Article II & (The Executive Function): establishes the powers and responsibilities of the President & the Executive Branch. (Implement & Enforce laws).

  • Article III & The (Judicial Function): Establishes the powers of the Judicial Branch (Interpret laws).

    • Ex: If the congress passes a law that made Christianity the official religion of the United States, the court would interpret that law to be unconstitutional and nullify it.


Common law
Common Law

  • What is the Law? Law is a set of expected behaviors, ethics and morals that are coercively imposed on a defined population.

  • Essentially, there are three different types of law throughout the world.

    • Common Law

    • (Roman) Civil Code

    • Religious & Traditional Law

  • Common Law: A legal system that bases its rulings on how previous courts have decided similar matters. In criminal cases the accused is afforded maximum due process relative to other systems.


How the common law works
How the Common Law Works

  • Precedent & Stare Decisis are essentially the same thing.

  • Precedent: A common law concept where a judicial decision serves as a rule or guide for deciding later cases of a similar nature.

  • Stare Decisis: The judicial principle of relying on past decisions or precedents to devise ruling in later cases.

    • Judges are bound to decides cases in a similar fashion to other court rulings.


Understanding stare decisis
UnderstandingStare Decisis

Ex: A previous court has ruled that apples that fall off a tree into a neighbors yard belong to the owner of the tree, not the neighbor.

  • Therefore, when someone else’s apples fall off a tree into a neighbors yard, the court should rule the same way the original court did.

  • Additionally, when livestock or other property crosses over into a neighbors yard, the courts can look to the precedent to establish that the property belongs to the original owner, not the neighbor.


Civil law
Civil Law

Civil Law:deals primarily with relations between individuals and organizations. The results of which are typically judgments and fines rather than jail-time.

Example: Marriage, Family law,

Contracts, Torts, & Property

Disputes.


Criminal law
Criminal Law

  • Criminal law: prohibits certain actions and prescribes certain penalties for those who engage in that prohibited conduct.

  • Example: Murder is a violation of Criminal Law, Speeding, not wearing a seatbelt, possession of narcotics, carrying fence pliers in your back pocket (Texas Law)


Types of courts cases
Types of Courts & Cases

  • Courts ofOriginal Jurisdiction: The level where almost all legal disputes must start. At this level the defendant is granted full constitutional rights and protections (jury trial, confronted by witnesses, cross-examination of witnesses, right to council).

  • District Courts: Courts of Original Jurisdiction are at both the state and federal level. Almost all felony criminal and civil cases originate at the district court.

    • District courts are where a jury decides guilt or innocence.

    • 99% of all cases must first be heard by federal and state district courts.

    • Bill was arrested for grand theft auto, a jury in a district court convicted him.

    • Bill sued Suzy for breach of contract in a district court.

  • Appellate Courts: These courts (at both the state and federal levels) hear cases only after they have been heard at the district court level. They only decide whether the district court’s actions were consistent with the constitution (not usually guilt or innocence).

    • Appellate courts only hear cases after they have been heard by the district courts.

    • Most appellate courts do not wish to overturn the wishes of juries, unless the constitution has been violated or major errors occurred in the trial .

  • Diversity of CitizenshipCase: If both parties reside in different states and the matter in question exceeds $75000, then the Federal District Court hears the case.


Types of courts
Types of Courts

  • Courts of Original Jurisdiction

    -District Courts (State & Federal)

    -Probate Courts (State Only)

    -Bankruptcy Courts (Federal Only)

    -Military Courts (Federal Only)

    -Administrative Law Courts (Federal Only)

    -Trade Courts (Federal Only)

    - Food Court ( In malls around America) j/k

    -Diversity of Citizenship (Federal Only)

  • Appellate Courts (State and Federal)

  • Supreme Court (Highest Appellate Court [State and Federal])

Q



Appoint or elect judges
Appoint or Elect Judges?

  • In the United States, Federal Judges are appointed by the President and serve life terms.

  • In many states, judges are elected and have to run for reelection ever few years.

  • What are the benefits of judges serving lifetime appointments?

  • What are the benefits be of electing judges?

  • Should judges be able to circumvent the will of the people’s duly elected representatives in Congress?

  • Some have proposed that the Congress should have the ability to override the rulings of the court by a ¾ vote of both chambers, do you agree with this? Why/Why Not?


Federal district courts
Federal District Courts

District Court is the court of original jurisdiction for all federal matters of dispute or criminal prosecution, unless it is addressed by a Special Courts (i.e. Bankruptcy, Military, Admin. Law Courts)

Each state is divided into federal districts in which that respective court hears federal cases from that local district.

In 2008, the district courts heard 253,000 civil cases and 70,000 criminal cases



Federal courts of appeals u s circuit courts
Federal Courts of Appeals(U.S. Circuit Courts)

There are thirteen Courts of Appeals that are separated into geographic districts (1 is the federal district and deals with appeals from special courts only)

Appellate courts do not decide on the facts of a case, they only overturn district court rulings if there has been a major violation of procedure or the district court ruling was counter to the Constitution.

Various circuit courts have different “personalities” (9th circuit regarded as liberal while the 4th circuit is regarded as conservative)


The supreme court
The Supreme Court

Their rulings apply to the entire country

They usually rule on cases that have great Constitutional significance.

Rulings by the Supreme Court have often been considered highly controversial (Ex: Roe v. Wade, Texas v. Johnson, Brown v. Board of Education)



The supreme court2
The Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court is the terminal appellate court for all cases in the U.S.

The Supreme Court consists of Nine Justices who serve life terms.

Justices are typically appointed according to their impressive credentials and known political prospective

In 2008 there were 9,000 petitions to have a case heard before the Supreme court, only 71 were granted “cert”.


Inside the supreme court
Inside the Supreme Court

The Supreme Court decides when or if to hear a case.

  • Rule of Four: Rule stating that it takes 4 of the 9 justices to agree to hear a case before its heard by Supreme Court.

  • If they decide to hear the case, the court issues a Writ of Certiorari (or Cert).

  • Writ of Certiorari: A document issued by the Supreme Court to call a case up from the lower courts for review. This is often simply called granting “cert.”

  • Ex: Every year abortion cases get appealed to the Supreme Court. Since the court has already settled the abortion issue in Roe v. Wade and other cases, the court doesn’t usually grant cert.


Inside the supreme court1
Inside the Supreme Court

  • The court then makes a decision. The decision, which is called an opinion.

  • The 9 member Supreme Court votes and the majority wins. Both the winning and loosing side write opinions stating their arguments, the winning side is called the majority opinionwhile the loosing side is called the minority opinion.

  • Now, the Supreme court usually does not hear cases first, they hear almost all of their cases on appeal from the lower appellate courts.

  • Therefore, their opinions typicallyaffirm(support the ruling of the lower court), reverse (totally abandon the ruling of the lower court) or remand (send it back to the lower courts to fix certain issues) the cases.


Inside the supreme court2
Inside the Supreme Court

  • Those who disagree with the ruling write their minority opinion, which is called a dissenting opinion. It lays out the arguments against majority’s opinion.

  • Swing Justice: A justice with a moderate or unpredictable ideology that can help one side on the court develop a majority.

    • Ex: Sandra Day O’Conner was one of the most powerful women in U.S. History because of her role as a swing justice. She was conservative on issues of federalism and moderate on issues of social policy.

  • Sometimes, the members of the court vote with the majority or minority, but write a separate concurring opinionto argue another point not addressed by the opinions

  • Sometimes the court makes a unanimous opinion, which basically means that all members of the court agree with the majority.


The supreme court3
The Supreme Court

Their rulings apply to the entire country

They usually rule on cases that have great Constitutional significance.

Rulings by the Supreme Court have often been considered highly controversial (Ex: Roe v. Wade, Texas v. Johnson, Brown v. Board of Education)



Inside the supreme court miranda v arizona 1966
Inside the Supreme CourtMiranda v. Arizona (1966)

Ernesto Miranda was arrested for rape and kidnapping.

Miranda was did not speak English very well and was unaware of his rights.

Once at the station, the police did not inform Miranda of his right to counsel or his right not to incriminate himself.

Unaware of these rights and under intense interrogation, Miranda admitted to the crime.


Inside the supreme court miranda v arizona 19661
Inside the Supreme CourtMiranda v. Arizona (1966)

  • Miranda was later informed of his constitutional protections.

  • Miranda’s attorney appealed to district court claiming that he was not made aware of his right to council or protection from self incrimination.

  • The Arizona district judge rejected his pleas and Miranda was eventually convicted by a jury.

  • Miranda’s conviction was affirmed by the Arizona Supreme court, at which time he appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.


Inside the supreme court miranda v arizona 19662
Inside the Supreme CourtMiranda v. Arizona (1966)

  • 4 of the 9 judges agreed that the case should be heard so they granted it a writ of certiorari.

  • They reviewed briefs from Miranda as well as the state of Arizona.

  • Additional groups like the Fraternal Order of Police submitted Amicus Curie briefs siding with Arizona.

  • Both sides attorneys also appeared in front of the justices to face questioning from the justices and to put forth oral arguments.


Inside the supreme court miranda v arizona 19663
Inside the Supreme CourtMiranda v. Arizona (1966)

  • The justices meet in private to discuss the case and then vote.

  • 5 of the justices agreed that Miranda should have been made aware of his rights before questioning and wrote a majority opinion.

  • 4 of the justices believed that there was no precedent or constitutional principle to mandate foreknowledge of rights before questioning and wrote a minority opinion.

  • Now a precedent and law was established that criminal suspects had to be made aware of their constitutional rights before being questioned by the police.

  • Miranda was given a new trial without the confession and was convicted and sent to prison.

    Do you think that suspects should have to made aware of their constitutional rights before being questioned?

    What situation existed before the ruling?


Judicial review
Judicial Review

Judicial Review:Examination by the court to examine whether or not a law is counter to the constitution. If the court finds the law unconstitutional, it is nullified.

Ex: In Texas v. Johnson, Johnson was convicted of flag burning.

The Supreme court struck down his conviction using Judicial Review because they felt flag burning was symbolic speech that is protected by the 1st amendment.

Therefore, the court established with this case that flag burning laws were nullified because they were unconstitutional.

If something is counter to the language or spirit of the Constitution, it could be ruled unconstitutional through judicial review.


Marbury v madison
Marbury v. Madison

On his way out of office, President John Adams appointed a number of new Judges with lifetime appointments before the New president took over.

He failed to get all of their commissions delivered before his term expired.

The new president refused to deliver the appointments.

The judges who did not receive their commission sued the new President to get their appointment commissions.

The court ruled that while they were entitled to their commissions, they did not go through the right courts to get them.

The real significance of the case was that it established the doctrine of judicial review.


Judicial activism on the court
Judicial Activism on the Court

Judicial Activism:The belief that the court has a responsibility to sometimes make policy in order to keep the Constitution evolving, relevant and applicable.

Ex: Griswold v. Connecticut, where the Sup. Court found the Bill of Rights to include a “right to privacy” even though the word privacy is not listed anywhere in the Constitution.

Most highly controversial court cases have been pushed by judicial activists.

Without judicial activism we might still have racially segregated schools and public facilities, Al Gore might have been elected as President, and abortion might still be illegal.

Most people do not support judicial activism, though they generally support its historical outcomes.


Judicial restraint on the court
Judicial Restraint on the Court

Judicial Restraint: is the idea that the courts should avoid making policy and should only overturn the will of Congress in matters that run directly counter to the principles of the Constitution.

Ex: McDonald v. City of Chicago, where the Sup. Court ruled that the D.C. law against handgun ownership was directly counter to the 2nd Amendment. A true judicial restraintist would abhor the ruling in Griswold v. Connecticut.

While many judges may say they support judicial restraint, their actions often tend to indicate activism (Ex: Bush v. Gore)

Most in the public favor democratic response rather than judicial response to problems, but again, it typically depends on how or if the issue affects them.


Activism vs restraint
Activism vs. Restraint

Activism and Restraint are not attached to any political ideology, only issues in which one decides to be activist or restraintist about.

The court is supposed to be unbiased and non-political, but this has never been the case.

There are two checks on judicial activism that most people do not realize, it is the power of the Senate to remove issue jurisdiction or ignoring their rulings.

Think about which side you stand on?

Should judges interject their own bias’ into the interpretation of the Constitution?

What good has come from it?

What harm has come from it?

How should a Judge decide what is Constitutional?


Concepts to know
Concepts to Know

  • Article III & The (Judicial Function): Establishes the powers of the Judicial Branch (Interpret laws).

  • Common Law: A legal system that bases its rulings on how previous courts have decided similar matters. In criminal cases the accused is afforded maximum due process relative to other systems.

  • Stare Decisis: The judicial principle of relying on past decisions or precedents to devise ruling in later cases.

  • Civil Law:deals primarily with relations between individuals and organizations. The results of which are typically judgments and fines rather than jail-time.

  • District Courts: Courts of Original Jurisdiction are at both the state and federal level. Almost all felony criminal and civil cases originate at the district court.


Concepts to know1
Concepts to Know

  • Appellate Courts: These courts (at both the state and federal levels) hear cases only after they have been heard at the district court level. They only decide whether the district court’s actions were consistent with the constitution (not usually guilt or innocence).

  • Writ of Certiorari: A document issued by the Supreme Court to call a case up from the lower courts for review. This is often simply called granting “cert.”

  • In a Supreme Court ruling, the winning side is called the majority opinionwhile the loosing side is called the minority opinion.

  • Judicial Review:Examination by the court to examine whether or not a law is counter to the constitution. If the court finds the law unconstitutional, it is nullified.

  • Judicial Activism:The belief that the court has a responsibility to sometimes make policy in order to keep the Constitution evolving, relevant and applicable.

  • Judicial Restraint: is the idea that the courts should avoid making policy and should only overturn the will of Congress in matters that run directly counter to the principles of the Constitution.


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