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Here Comes the Judge!. Article III: The Judicial Branch. Role of the Courts. Make up the 3 rd branch of the federal government Use the law to settle civil disputes (between people, companies or organizations)

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here comes the judge

Here Comes the Judge!

Article III: The Judicial Branch

role of the courts
Role of the Courts
  • Make up the 3rd branch of the federal government
  • Use the law to settle civil disputes (between people, companies or organizations)
  • Applies the law to the facts presented to determine the guilt or innocence (Criminal)
equal justice under the law
Equal Justice Under the Law
  • Means that all the laws are applied equally to every person
  • Constitution guarantees trial by jury, presumption of innocence, right to council, right to appeal
  • Why is equal justice hard to achieve?
federal courts
Federal Courts
  • Under the Articles of Confederation there were no federal courts
  • Each State had its own system
  • What does this mean for equal justice under the law?
  • Supreme Court only court mentioned in the Constitution
  • Article III Gives Congress the power to establish “inferior courts”
federal court system
Federal Court System
  • District or Circuit Courts-federal cases start here
  • Appeals Court-when either party questions the ruling of the lower court or (district court)
  • Supreme Court- has final authority over legal matters
what type of cases go to a federal court
What type of cases go to a federal court?
  • Constitutional issues
  • Breaking Federal laws (tax evasion, kidnapping)
  • Disputes between states ex: water rights
  • Disputes between citizens of different state
  • Federal Government ex: when the Feds bring a case against someone or entity
what type of cases go to a federal court1
What type of cases go to a federal court?
  • Foreign governments and treaties ex: When any foreign government is involved in a dispute with a US citizen, company or government
  • Admiralty or Maritime Laws – crimes on the open seas
  • US Diplomats: Example Ambassadors breaking laws
types of jurisdiction
Types of Jurisdiction
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction: only feds hear the case
  • Concurrent Jurisdiction: feds and state courts may hear case
us district courts
US District Courts
  • Where all federal trials and lawsuits begin-known as “original jurisdiction”
  • Witnesses testify and juries hear cases
us court of appeals
US Court of Appeals
  • Other names: Appellate Courts, Circuit Courts
  • Reviews the decisions of the lower courts which is “appellate jurisdiction”
  • No jury a panel of 3 judges reviews and makes a decision
  • 12 US courts of appeals has jurisdiction over a specific region
  • Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has nationwide authority
decisions of the court of appeals 3 options
Decisions of the Court of Appeals 3 Options
  • Upholding the findings of a lower court
  • Reversing the findings of a lower court
  • Remanding to send the case back to a lower court for a retrial
  • Rulings are only on whether any of the defendants rights have been violated
  • Opinion of the Court is an explanation of the ruling
  • Opinion often based on Precedent-prior rulings
so you want to be a judge
So You Want to be a Judge
  • The President along with the advise and consent of the Senate appoints federal judges
  • It’s a political thing/usually the same party and like philosophy of the Prez
  • A job for life!
other jobs
Other Jobs
  • Magistrates take care of the minor judicial duties (issue warrants, determine whether a case should go to trial, set bail)
  • US Attorneys: Each district court has 1 US Attorney and several deputies-they prosecute people who are accused of breaking federal laws
  • US Marshalls: Collect fines, make arrests, serve legal papers
jurisdiction of the supreme court
Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court
  • Can preside over disputes between states and cases involving foreign countries
  • Otherwise it hears cases on appeal from lower courts
  • Gets to choose the cases it hears
  • Refusal to hear a case means the decisions of the lower court stand
about the court
About the Court
  • 8 Associate and 1 Chief Justice
  • Main duty is to decide on cases/ but also make policy indirectly
  • President nominates a justice and the individual must be confirmed by the Senate
  • Appointed for life
  • No constitutional requirements to be a justice
powers of the court
Powers of the Court
  • Executive and Legislative Branches must follow the decisions of the court
  • Judicial Review: The court can review any federal, state or local law or action to make sure it is constitutional
    • Judicial Review was established in the case of Marbury v. Madison in 1803 (page 260)
limits to power
Limits to Power
  • Court relies on the executive branch and local officials to carry out its decisions (think desegregation)
  • Congress can change or tweek laws deemed unconstitutional
the workings of the court
The Workings of the Court
  • Meets from the first Monday in October- until the business of the court is complete usually late June/early July
  • 4 of the 9 Justices must agree to hear a case before it is placed on the court docket
  • Many cases are appealed to the Supreme Court only a small fraction are heard and even a smaller percentage get full hearings
how do they decide what to hear
How do they decide what to hear?
  • Major constitutional issues
  • Cases must deal with real people and events
  • Legal rather than political issues
  • Writ of Certiorari- “make more certain” directs a lower court to send its case records to the Supreme Court
the process to deciding a case
The Process to Deciding a Case
  • Written Arguments: Briefs explain each sides position in a case
  • Lawyers present oral arguments (30 min) justices then ask questions
  • Conferences in secret to discuss the merits of the case- 5 need a majority of justices
  • Opinions
  • Announcement of Opinions
types of opinions
Types of Opinions
  • Majority Opinion: written by one justice presents the view of the majority of justices
  • Concurrent Opinion: Justices may agree with the majority but have different legal reasons for doing so
  • Dissenting Opinion: Justices who oppose the majority opinion
  • Unanimous Opinion: All Agree
influences on the justices opinions
Influences on the Justices’ Opinions
  • The Law based on the concept of “stare decisis” let the decision stand
    • Precedent matters
  • Social and Political Conditions- while mostly immune from these pressures, court reinterprets laws based on social norms think Plessy v. Ferguson and Brown v. Board of Education
  • Differing Legal Views: Activist v. Constitutionalist
  • Personal Beliefs