Constitutional Courts • Article III – judicial power • Supreme Court • Appeals Court • District Court
Organization of the Federal Court System Supreme Court 13 Circuit Courts – Appeals Ct. 94 District Trial Courts
Jurisdiction • authority of a court to hear a case • Types of Cases for Federal Court • Subject matter • Constitutionality or federal law • drug trafficking • Parties involved • United States is a party • Schenck v United States (1919) • Two or More States • New Jersey v New York (1998)
Federal District Courts • Federal District Courts have original jurisdiction – the authority to hear cases for the first time • Determine facts of the case • Witnesses testify • Evidence is presented • Jury deliberates • Verdict is given
Circuit Court of Appeals • They don’t decide innocence/guilt! • There are 12 regional circuit courts – PA is in the 3rd
Circuit Court of Appeals • Circuit courts have appellate jurisdiction – the authority to review the fairness of the cases. • Did the judge admit evidence correctly? • Did the judge interpret the law wrong?
Rulings in Appeals Courts • A panel of judges reviews the records from the trial court and listens to the lawyers argue to ensure the trial was fair. They can: • Uphold the decision (keep it!) • Reverse it (change it!) • Remand it (send it back to be retried) Their decision is FINAL unless the Supreme Court decides to consider it.
Opinions • Opinions are the rulings of the Appeals and the Supreme Court. It is an explanation of the legal thinking behind the court’s decision.
Decision Making on the Court Types of Opinions • Majority – decision of the court • Concurring – agrees with court decision with different reasoning • Dissenting – disagreement with the court decision
United States Supreme Court • jurisdiction of the US Supreme Court • both original and appellate • overwhelmingly cases are heard through appellate jurisdiction
Other Court Officials • Magistrate – determine if there is enough evidence to have a trial • US Attorney – prosecute people accused of breaking federal law • US Marshall – make arrests, collect fines, and take convicted people to jail. They also issue subpoenas – a court order requesting a person to appear in court