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Today: Warm Up Key Terms Structure of the Court System Supreme Court EQ: How does the structure and practice of our Judicial System support or undermine our democratic principal? . Good Morning Seniors!. Warm Up - . Select one of the questions below and answer it.

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good morning seniors


Warm Up

Key Terms

Structure of the Court System

Supreme Court

EQ: How does the structure and practice of our Judicial System support or undermine our democratic principal?

Good Morning Seniors!

warm up
Warm Up -

Select one of the questions below and answer it.

Why do we have laws?

What is the purpose of the justice system?

Punitive or Restorative? How could you develop a more punitive system? A more restorative system? What is the impact on society?


Brainstorm 2 systems of justice different from our own judge/jury/penal system.


Acquittal - A jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.

Affidavit - A written or printed statement made under oath.

Amicus curiae - Latin for "friend of the court." It is advice formally offered to the court in a brief filed by an entity interested in, but not a party to, the case.

Appeal/Appellate - A request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one or more issues that a higher court review the decision to determine if it was correct. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the "appellant;" the other party is the "appellee."


Burden of proof/Standard of proof - The duty to prove disputed facts. In civil cases, a plaintiff generally has the burden of proving his or her case. In criminal cases, the government has the burden of proving the defendant's guilt. The Standard of proof also differs in criminal and civil cases. In criminal cases, prosecutors must prove a defendant's guilt "beyond a reasonable doubt." The majority of civil lawsuits require proof "by a preponderance of the evidence" (50 percent plus), but in some the standard is higher and requires "clear and convincing" proof.

De facto vs. De jure – What the law says (de jure) vs. what actually happens in practice (de factor)


Double Jeopardy – Law which says you can’t be tried for the same crime twice.

Due process -  the constitutional guarantee that a defendant will receive a fair and impartial trial. In civil law, the legal rights of someone who confronts an adverse action threatening liberty or property.

Habeas corpus - Latin, meaning "you have the body." A writ of habeas corpus generally is a judicial order forcing law enforcement authorities to produce a prisoner they are holding, and to justify the prisoner's continued confinement. Federal judges receive petitions for a writ of habeas corpus from state prison inmates who say their state prosecutions violated federally protected rights in some way.

Jurisdiction - The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a certain type of case. It also is used as a synonym for venue, meaning the geographic area over which the court has territorial jurisdiction to decide cases.


Misdemeanor vs. Felony – A misdemeanor is a more minor offense punishable by one year of imprisonment or less . A felony is a worse crime.

Precedent - A court decision in an earlier case with facts and legal issues similar to a dispute currently before a court. Judges will generally "follow precedent" - meaning that they use the principles established in earlier cases to decide new cases that have similar facts and raise similar legal issues. A judge will disregard precedent if a party can show that the earlier case was wrongly decided, or that it differed in some significant way from the current case.

Remand – Send back - Return a case to be retried in a lower court.

Writ of certiorari - An order issued by the U.S. Supreme Court directing the lower court to transmit records for a case which it will hear on appeal.

happy block day y all
Happy Block Day Y’all!


  • Looking at the Supreme Court and Key Cases.
  • Statistics on Justice
  • After Innocence

EQ: What are the key roles of the Judicial System and how can the justice system better support equality, freedom and safety in society.

the supreme court
The Supreme Court

9 Justices (8 justices and 1 chief justice – Roberts)

Judges are nominated by the president, approved by the Congress and sit on the bench for life.

Marbury vs. Madison – Judicial Review

Strict vs. Loose Construction - Judicial Activism

Opinions –





criticisms of the supreme court
Criticisms of The Supreme Court
  • Judicial activism – legislating from the bench
  • Federal vs. State power
  • Interference in political disputes
  • Failing to protect individual rights
  • Too much power – poor balance of power
  • Sit for life – Lifetime tenure
  • Don’t review enough cases.
  • Divided along politics
major court cases
Major Court Cases
  • Marbury vs. Madison (1803)Judicial Review

“It is emphatically the province and duty of the judicial department to say what the law is. Those who apply the rule to particular cases, must of necessity expound and interpret that rule. If two laws conflict with each other, the courts must decide on the operation of each”.— Chief Justice John Marshall

McCulloch vs. Maryland (1819) National Supremacy

". . . Although, among the enumerated powers of government, we do not find the word "bank" or "incorporation," we find the great powers to lay and collect taxes; to borrow money; to regulate commerce; to declare and conduct a war; and to raise and support armies and navies . . . But it may with great reason be contended, that a government, entrusted with such ample powers . . . must also be entrusted with ample means for their execution. The power being given, it is the interest of the nation to facilitate its execution. . . . " —Chief Justice John Marshall


Dred Scott v. Sandford (1857) Slavery, Due Process, the Missouri Compromise

" . . . We think they [people of African ancestry] are . . . not included, and were not intended to be included, under the word "citizens" in the Constitution, and can therefore claim none of the rights and privileges which that instrument provides for and secures to citizens of the United States. . . ." — Chief Justice Roger B. Taney, speaking for the majority

Plessy v. Ferguson (1896) "Separate but Equal," Equal Protection

"The object of the [Fourteenth] Amendment was undoubtedly to enforce the absolute equality of the two races before the law, but in the nature of things it could not have been intended to abolish distinctions based upon color, or to enforce social, as distinguished from political, equality, or a commingling of the two races upon terms unsatisfactory to either." —Justice Henry Billings Brown, speaking for the majority

Korematsu v. United States (1944) Japanese Internment, Equal Protection

"As long as my record stands in federal court, any American citizen can be held in prison or concentration camps without trial or hearing. I would like to see the government admit they were wrong and do something about it, so this will never happen again to any American citizen of any race, creed, or color." —Fred Korematsu (1983), on his decision to again challenge his conviction 40 years later 


Brown v. Board of Education (1954)

School Segregation, Equal Protection

"We conclude that the doctrine of 'separate but equal' has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." —Chief Justice Earl Warren

Gideon v. Wainwright (1963) Right to Counsel, Due Process

"If an obscure Florida convict named Clarence Earl Gideon had not sat down in his prison cell . . . to write a letter to the Supreme Court . . . the vast machinery of American law would have gone on functioning undisturbed. But Gideon did write that letter, the Court did look into his case . . . and the whole course of American legal history has been changed." —Robert F. Kennedy

Miranda v. Arizona (1966) Self-Incrimination, Due Process

". . . the prosecution may not use statements, whether exculpatory or inculpatory, stemming from custodial interrogation of the defendant unless it demonstrates the use of procedural safeguards effective to secure the privilege against self-incrimination."—Chief Justice Earl Warren, speaking for the majorit

statistics on incarceration
Statistics on Incarceration

The U.S. has the highest incarceration rate in the world.

  • Drugs 50.7%
  • Public-order 35.0%,
  • Violent 7.9%
  • Property 5.8%
  • Other .7%

Why do you think we have more people in jail than any other country?

What values make us construct our society in such a way?


Violent crime in the United States has been in decline since the 1950’s. With a minor spike during the crack epidemic during the late 80’s early 1990’s.


The rate of incarceration for men of color is significantly higher than for whites and women in general.

Why might this be?

While violent crime rates over-all in the United States have been declining – incarceration rates for drug offenses have more than quadrupled since the start of the drug war in 1980.


In spite of dropping crime rates, the number of juveniles in adult facilities remains high.

What might impact of placing juveniles in adult facilities be?

Being that most research suggests that prison is JUST punishment and either has NO EFFECT or a NEGATIVE EFFECT on recidivism (people’s return to prison) – what might the implications of juvenile incarceration in adult prisons be?

after innocence
After Innocence -

What should the purpose of our justice system be?



  • Warm up: Restorative Justice in School.
  • Criticisms of the Justice System
  • What can we learn from other countries?

EQ: How can we improve our criminal justice system?

warm up1
Warm Up

Restorative Justice in Schools

  • What is the goal here?
  • What are some criticisms you have?
  • Why do you think punishment is so popular?
criticisms of the justice system
Criticisms of the Justice System
  • The quality of your lawyer is almost completely dependent on your wealth.
  • Most cases don’t even go to trial – defendants are intimidated into taking pleas.
    • Fewer than 10% of cases went to trial last year
  • The job of prosecutors is to win cases not to find the truth.
  • Police, Lawyers, Judges and Jurors don’t recognize their own biases.
  • People just return to jail – they are unable to assimilate into society.
  • Ironic contradictions in personal responsibility in criminal vs. civil cases (criminals are completely responsible for their actions, individuals can easily sue doctors, teachers, business owners when they are unhappy with service)
what can we learn from others
What can we learn from others?

"In the 1970s, Finland had the highest incarceration rate among the West-European countries. Costs were high, and overcrowding caused serious problems for inmates and the enforcement agencies. In addition nothing in our crime situation indicated that Finland should have two-to-three times more prisoners than our Nordic neighbors. In response, our legislators invested in public programs that improve communities and prevent justice involvement, and stopped choosing incarceration when other, less-restrictive options were appropriate. Now, Finland’s incarceration rate is just 60 people per 100,000. Finland and the other low-imprisonment Nordic countries, stand as an example of policies that have successfully replaced custodial interventions by community- and social prevention programs.”

- TapioLappi-Seppälä, director of the National Research Institute of Legal Policy in Finland stated,


Suggested Changes in the criminal Justice System

Provide more treatment for more people outside the criminal justice system:

Treatment for drug addiction should be widely available outside the criminal justice system and affordable for people who need it. In cases in which the offense is related to the personal use of drugs, treatment should be the first response rather than incarceration.

suggested changes in the criminal justice system
Suggested Changes in the criminal Justice System

Scale back sentence lengths, especially for drug offenses: 

No other comparison nation has mandatory sentencing for possession of small amounts of illegal substances. Such broad sentencing structures are significant contributors to the number of people in prison in the U.S. and are not the best or most cost-effective way to protect public safety.


Suggested Changes in the criminal Justice System

Improve reentry services: 

Other nations successfully put into practice an approach to reentry that includes both mental and behavioral health, as well as sociological factors like housing, employment, and education. Such a holistic approach could be cost effective in terms of keeping people from returning to prison and improving life outcomes.


Suggested Changes in the criminal Justice System

Raise the age of criminal responsibility- end transfers to adult court

Other nations don’t consider children as young as six to be mature enough to be criminally responsible for their actions; raising the U.S. age would reduce the number of youth in secure custody in the U.S. and reinforce the concept that youth are not developmentally the same as adults and therefore should not be treated as such. Also, no other comparison nation transfers as many youth adult criminal courts as the United States at such young ages. This has a negative impact on community and individual well-being, as it decreases the chance a youth will be able to avoid future justice involvement and increases the risk of harm while in custody.


Suggested Changes in the criminal Justice System

Consider responses other than incarceration: 

Germany and Finland both use a day fine system based on the seriousness of the offense and apply proportional punishment on all people, regardless of socio-economic status. The fine is generally levied based on the amount of money a person earns on a given day and is meted out over a specified number of days.

Invest in positive institutions: 

The U.S. would do well to prioritize spending on strengthening and expanding institutions like education and employment, especially as they have been shown to not only decrease incarceration, but also improve public safety.

restorative justice societal level
Restorative Justice – Societal Level

What are you initial reactions to this idea?

What are some criticisms you have?

What are some questions you have?

further questions around punishment
Further Questions around punishment
  • Do you think that solitary confinement is justice or torture?
  • Do you think that the United States should keep the death penalty?
final reflection
Final Reflection

Community vs. Individual Responsibility

We in the United States place a high value on individual responsibility – how is this value reflected in our justice system?