Conflict! • What is conflict? • Conflict within this course deals with controversial topics that are discussed and handled in the public arena. • Community advocates work to solve community problems through new laws, and public policies. • Who are community advocates? • You are! • Your teachers • Your parents • Anyone really
Methods for solving disputes • Negotiation, Mediation, and Arbitration are the three most common ways to settle disputes. • Negotiation: • The most informal of the three • When you and the people you are in conflict with just discuss your issues • Try to reach a reasonable solution to the problem • Sometimes people hire attorneys to negotiate for them and you can agree to a settlement to prevent the case from going to trial.
Arbitration • Who is an arbitrator? This person acts like a judge. • What is the process like? It is less formal than an actual trial but in the decision of the case the parties must follow the decision of the arbitrator, unless it is not binding arbitration. • Think PG&E lawsuit. It was binding arbitration and labor union and employer dispute. • Why would you do this? It is quicker than a long trial.
Mediation • Who is a mediator? A mediator is a neutral third party b/w two parties. • Is it voluntary? Yes. • Community mediation- helps to solve issues b/w tenants and landlords, or husbands and wives. • What is an ombudspersons? An ombudsperson is a person who investigates complaints and then help the parties reach some agreement. For example, if you accuse a professor of wronging you in class at a university it is possible the university would use this. Think honor code board.
Activity • Come up with a personal experience where you have used either negotiation or mediation to settle a dispute. • Put this in your notes but be prepared to share in class.
C.5 The Court System
Trial Courts • What does a trial court do? They listen to testimony, consider evidence, and decide the facts in disputed situations. • Two sides to everything! • In a criminal case there is the plaintiff which is always represented by the prosecution which is represented by the state or federal government. • In both civil and criminal cases the party responding to the plaintiff is the defendant. • Once a decision has been made the losing party may try to appeal the decision in an appellate or appeals court.
What type of trial system to we use? • In the United States we use an adversarial system. • What is an adversarial system? It is a trial system where it is essentially a contest b/w two parties. The theory is that the trier of the fact (jury/judge) will be able to determine the truth if the opposing parties present their best arguments and show the weaknesses of the other side’s case.
Inquisitional system • This a trial system used in some European countries. For example, France uses this system today. • In this system the judge is active in the trial proceedings and can call witnesses, gather and present evidence, and question witnesses. • In reality there are few cases where the judge actually intervenes in the case. Of the 1.1 million cases tried in France in 2005 only 33, 000 cases had judges intervening.
Criticism of the Adversarial System • Some argue that this method is flawed due to the fact that both sides are trying to “beat” each other not actually present the real facts of a case. • “Victory, not truth” is the goal of this process. It is like a battle b/w the lawyers. • Even with its drawbacks it is still the cornerstone of the American legal system.
Steps in a trial • Go to page 49 in your text and copy the 12 steps of a trial into your notes. You may have done this before your midterm so if you have it just wait patiently for your classmates to finish.
Appeals Courts • The point of an appeals court is for one party to ask the court to review a decision made in a lower trial court. There are no juries or witnesses and no new evidence is presented. • When can you be granted an appeal? • When there is evidence of an error of law at the trial court level • For example, if a jury hears evidence that the judge should not have allowed. • If the judge’s error is minor and did not change the outcome of a case it will not be allowed as a reason for an appeal • Read page 52 “Taking a Car by Mistake”
Appeals courts and precedents • When an appeals court makes a decision it is setting precedent for all further trial courts with similar cases. • This means all the lower courts in the area where the precedent was made must follow the precedent set in the opinion of the appellate judges.
Opinions of the Court • In appellate courts the judges will write what are called opinions or the decisions in a case. They will write one of the three types of opinions: • Majority Opinion-the decision in the case • Dissenting Opinion-the opposite of the decision or the disagreeing opinion • Concurring opinion-the opinion of the judges who agree with the majority but for different reasons. • Plessy v Ferguson, 1896 • This US Supreme Court case had a dissenting opinion stating that “separate but equal” was constitutional and this opinion became the basis for Brown v. Bd. of Education of Topeka Kansas, 1954 case’s majority opinion stating that “separate but equal” was unconstitutional and that schools should be integrated.
Federal Court System 9 Justices
NC State Court Trial Courts
How does the Court system work in the U.S. • Look at the graphic on page 53 in your text.
State Courts • North Carolina like most states has specialized courts to deal with specific legal areas • Examples include family, traffic, criminal, and small claims courts. • For example, my vehicular negligence tort was tried in a small claims court at the NC District Court in Wake County (Raleigh). • Criminal courts are typically divided b/w felonies and misdemeanors.
Federal Courts • Article III of the United States Constitution established a Supreme court and the Judiciary Act of 1789 established the lower federal courts. • Congress created 94 federal judicial districts in 12 regional circuits each of which has a court of appeals • We live in the 4th district
The Supreme Court of the United States • All courts must follow the rulings of the SCOTUS that is why it is so important. • There are 9 SCOTUS justices with life long appointments • The justices decide which cases they will hear. There are around 8000 cases appealed to them every year but they will only hear about 80 cases. • There are no appeals to their rulings • Justices are appointed by the POTUS and confirmed by the US Senate
US Supreme Courthttp://www.supremecourt.gov/about/biographies.aspx
U.S. Supreme court continued • More than ½ of the cases appealed to the Supreme Court come from inmates. • Most cases are requesting a petition of certiorari, which is request of a lower court to send up its records to the Supreme Court. • 99% of these cases are denied • The court will typically choose cases that appeal to their agenda or where there is a difference of opinion in the lower courts. For example, the overturning of the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996
Famous Supreme Court cases • Roe v. Wade, 1973 • Brown v. Board of Education Topeka, Kansas, 1954 • Plessy v. Ferguson, 1896 • Texas v. Johnson, 1984 • Tinker v. Des Moines, 1969 • Bush v. Gore, 2000
International Courts • International courts are set up to deal with international law • There are universal laws that apply to everyone in the world • For example it is illegal to wage genocide against a group of people • The most important international court set up by the UN (United nations) is the International Court of Justice which is referred to as The Hague in the Netherlands. • International Criminal Court was created by the UN in 1998 and began operating in 2003. • It was not ratified by the United States