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Covering Courts. Civil and Criminal cases. U.S. Court Processes - Civil. Civil cases, called lawsuits, involve someone or a group suing a person, group, business, the government Plaintiff files the suit against the Defendant

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covering courts

Covering Courts

Civil and Criminal cases

u s court processes civil
U.S. Court Processes - Civil
  • Civil cases, called lawsuits, involve someone or a group suing a person, group, business, the government
  • Plaintiff files the suitagainst the Defendant
  • Civil lawsuits usually ask for money to pay for damages alleged caused by Defendant
  • Includes Contract disputes, Divorce, Libel, Doctor malpractice
u s court processes criminal
U.S. Court Processes- Criminal
  • Criminal cases are about crimes alleged committed by a Suspect, who may become the Defendant in a criminal court
  • Homicide, rape, assault, robbery, burglary, are FELONY crimes, stiff penalties, jail, fine, probation
  • Property damage, fighting, reckless or drunk driving are MISDEMEANORS, lesser crimes
u s court system
U.S. Court System
  • FEDERAL COURTS (national courts) hear cases about Federal law, breaking national laws, or if someone sues another under a federal law
    • U.S. District Courts are in districts within every state, hear federal law cases first
    • U.S. Appeals Courts, groups of states, hear cases appealed in District Court
    • U.S. Supreme Court, 9 members, final judgment on federal law cases, Washington, D.C.
state and local courts
State and Local Courts
  • States have District Courts, hear violations of state laws or state civil lawsuits, suc as FELONY criminal cases
  • Municipal Courts hear cases involving county or city law cases, mostly MISDEMEANOR cases
  • Family Courts, recently created for Divorces and child custody cases
  • Jury Trials or trial by Judge
processes of cases
Processes of Cases
    • MISDEMEANOR: Arrest, Booking, Arraignment, Jury or Judge set, Trial, Sentencing if Guilty
    • FELONY: Arrest, Booking, Arraignment, Preliminary hearing, Jury or Judge, Trial, Sentencing if Guilty
    • CIVIL LAWSUIT: Suit is filed, Attorneys file Motions, Jury or Judge, Trial, Verdict, Damages awarded if Plaintiff wins
covering the courts
Covering the Courts
  • Court cases can take weeks, months, or years
  • Importance of the Nut Graf to explain the case, high up in the story, 3rd or 4thgraf
  • One day’s story might be on ONE side of the cases, another the other side of the case
  • Gather information from court documents, interviews, background research
  • Write about the Charges, What Happened, the Defendants, Victims, Location, Jury, Lawyers
court stories
Court Stories
  • Summary Lead – tell what happened, 5Ws, H
  • Describe reaction of the Defendant if convicted, and/or of victims
  • Good Quote
  • Nut Graf, offering background of case
  • More reactions, what happened in court
  • Quotes, details about the judge, jury, lawyers’ reactions, if plans to appeal, more background
court stories cont
Court Stories, Cont.
  • Background – highlights of the trial
  • Describe colorful parts of the trial
  • Discuss key testimony that established guilt or innocence
  • Try to end with a Kicker quote, i.e. by someone in the Defendant’s or the victims’ family, based on your interviews after the hearing
types of court stories
Types of Court Stories
  • Advance stories – telling readers about an interesting upcoming trial
  • Motions, Opening statements, Evidence, Jury deliberations (can take days), Final verdict, Sentencing, Appeals, Prison visit by Defendant
  • Try to look for the interesting Feature angles of the court case, can be tragic or comical
guilty verdict in movie script murder
Guilty verdict in 'movie script' murder
  • April 13, 2011
  • By Tony Blais, QMI Agency
  • EDMONTON - Mark Twitchell got life in prison with no chance of parole for 25 years after a jury convicted him of first-degree murder Tuesday in the “horrific" killing of Johnny Altinger.
  • The victim’s mother gasped as the verdict was read out, following five hours of deliberation, and she later smiled through her sobs while nodding her thanks to the jurors.
  • Twitchell, 31, stood with his hands in front of him, staring straight ahead, as his fate was sealed and he later declined an opportunity to address the court.
  • As the convicted killer left the courtroom, Altinger’s mother, Elfriede, and her supporters called out to him from the front row, saying “bye” and “have fun.”
  • In her victim impact statement, Elfriede told Twitchell she hopes he dies a “slow death every day of his life” for the “unforgivable and horrific” things he did to her son.
  • Outside court, Elfriede told reporters she was “so glad” and “relieved” it was finally over and thanked the jury for doing “the right thing.”
  • The two Crown prosecutors, Lawrence Van Dyke and AvrilInglis, gave kudos to the police for their “extraordinary” investigation and praised the jurors for going through an “immense” amount of “disturbing” evidence.
guilty verdict in movie script murder cont
Guilty verdict in 'movie script' murder Cont.
  • Homicide Det. Bill Clark, who interviewed Twitchell and first accused him of the Oct. 10, 2008, dismemberment-slaying, called him a “psychopath” who “underestimated the police” and “ultimately got caught” by his own lies.
  • “It was lucky that he was a very poor serial killer and was caught on his first one,” said Clark. “He should never walk the streets of Canada ever again.”
  • The Crown alleged Twitchell used an Internet dating service to lure Altinger, 38, to a rented garage on the pretext of a date or possible sexual encounter.
  • Once there, he hit him on the head with a pipe and used a hunting knife to stab him to death before dismembering his body and disposing of his remains down a city sewer.
  • During the three-week trial – which garnered international attention – the jury heard Twitchell, a married father, was an aspiring filmmaker who had a fascination with Star Wars, weapons and TV serial killer Dexter Morgan.
  • Court heard Twitchell juggled the life of being a young dad with having a girlfriend on the side and a female American online pal with whom he shared dark secrets.
mcdonald s manager in brazil wins obesity lawsuit
McDonald's Manager in Brazil Wins Obesity Lawsuit
  • By LegalZoom
  • Created 11/2/10
  • Posted November 2nd, 2010 by LegalZoomLegalZoom News Sources
  • A Brazilian court has ordered fast-food chain McDonald's to pay $17,500 to a former manager who claims he gained a significant amount of weight while working at a franchise, Consumer Affairs reports.
  • According to the lawsuit, the employee claims he went from approximately 155 to 231 pounds during the time he spent with the company. He claimed the presence of "mystery clients," who visited franchises to test food quality and customer service, made him feel obligated to sample some food every day.
  • The employee, whose identity was not made public, also charged that McDonald's free lunch offering to workers increased his daily caloric intake. The offerings mostly consisted of hamburgers, french fries and ice cream, according to the lawsuit.
  • In June, the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) served McDonald's with a notice that it would file a lawsuit unless the company stopped selling its famous "Happy Meals," which CSPI termed "unhealthy junk food."