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Judicial Branch . Where did it come from?. Article Three “The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.” There are two basic levels of courts in the United States:

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where did it come from
Where did it come from?
  • Article Three
    • “The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”
  • There are two basic levels of courts in the United States:
    • Federal Courts: These courts derive their powers directly from the US Constitution and from federal laws.
    • *State Courts: These courts derive their powers from State Constitutions and State laws
jurisdiction the authority of a court to hear a case
Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear a case.
  • State courts have the authority to hear cases that involve State laws or a state’s constitution. The vast majority of court cases in the US are in the jurisdiction of State courts.
  • Federal courts have jurisdiction in cases that involve Federal law, treaties with foreign nations, interpretations of the US Constitution, ambassadors and other representatives of foreign governments, two or more state governments, the United States Government, a state and a citizen of another state, and a state or its citizens and a foreign nation or its citizens.
jurisdiction cont
Jurisdiction Cont.
  • It is possible for State courts and Federal courts to both have jurisdiction in a case at the same time, this is called concurrent jurisdiction.
  • Original Jurisdiction: This type of jurisdiction belongs to the court that hears a case first, usually a trial court.
  • Appellate Jurisdiction: When someone loses a case in a trial court they have the right to appeal the verdict to a higher court. The court that hears the appeal has what is called Appellate Jurisdiction.
  • Federal Court Jurisdiction
    • Federal courts deal with three types of law: civil law, criminal law, and constitutional law.
civil law
Civil Law
  • Settles disputes between two or more individuals or between individuals and the government. (In law, the term individual refers to not only an individual person, but also to businesses and other organizations.)
    • Plaintiff: the individual who brings charges in a civil suit.
    • Defendant: the individual whom the suit is brought againstin a civil case.
  • In civil cases individuals sue for two purposes, to try to collect monetary damages, or to prevent harmful action from taking place.
  • Cases that try to prevent harmful action from taking place are cases that deal with what is called equity law. Equity law is a system of rules by which disputes are resolved on the grounds of fairness.
    • In equity law cases plaintiffs ask the court to issue orders that forbid defendants from taking or continuing certain actions. These orders are called injunctions.
criminal law
Criminal Law
  • In a federal criminal law case the US Government charges an individual with breaking a federal law.
    • The individual who is charged with the crime in a criminal law case is called a defendant.
    • The federal government is the prosecutor.

*The most common federal crimes that are committed are bank robbery, tax evasion, mail fraud, kidnapping, and drug dealing

constitutional law
Constitutional Law
  • Federal courts hear cases that relate to the meaning and application of the United States Constitution.
  • Constitutional law cases can deal with either civil law or criminal law cases.
  • Whereas civil law cases and criminal law cases can be heard in either State or Federal courts depending on the jurisdiction, Constitutional law cases can only be heard in federal courts.
legal system principles
Legal System Principles
  • There are 4 basic principles that underlie the Judicial Branch of our government. These principles are equal justice under the law, due process of law, the adversary system, and presumption of innocence.
legal system principles1
Legal System Principles

Equal Justice Under the Law:

Due Process of Law:

This means that all laws must be applied equally to all people. Due process of law is defined and guaranteed in the 5th and 14th Amendments.

  • Refers to the goal of the American legal system to treat all people alike regardless of race, wealth, social status, gender, or age. The 5th, 6th, 7th, 8th, and 14th Amendments guarantee equal justice under the law.
legal system principles2
Legal System Principles

The Adversary System:

Presumption of Innocence:

All defendants in court cases in the United States must be viewed as being innocent of the crimes that they are charged with until they are found guilty in court of the crimes. It is the responsibility of the prosecution to prove the defendant guilty. If the prosecution can not prove a defendant guilty beyond the shadow of a doubt, regardless of how much evidence they may have against the defendant, the defendant must be found innocent

  • Our legal system is set up in a way that basically turns court cases into competitions between lawyers for the defense and lawyers for the plaintiff or prosecution with a judge basically acting as a referee.
lower federal courts
Lower Federal Courts
  • Congress has the Constitutional power to establish federal courts in the United States. Congress has established federal courts on all levels. The most numerous federal courts that have been established are called District Courts; these are the lowest level federal courts in the United States.
federal district courts
Federal District Courts:
  • These are the basic trial courts in federal court system for both criminal and civil cases. The United States is currently divided into 91judicial districts. Each state must have at least one federal judicial district; some of the larger states such as California, New York, and Texas have up to 4 federal judicial districts. There are currently close to 600 federal district court judges working in the federal court system today. Each of these judges are appointed for life by the President.
district courts use 2 types of juries in criminal cases
District Courts use 2 types of juries in criminal cases
  • Grand Jury: Made up of 16-23 people. These peopledecide whether there is enough evidence against a personaccused of a crime to hold that person over for trial. Ifthey decide there is enough evidence they issue anindictment which is a formal accusation charging a personwith a crime.
  • Petit Jury: Made up of 6, 9, or 12 people. This is a trialjury in civil and criminal cases. Their job is to weigh theevidence in a case and render a verdict. In criminal casesa jury will rule either guilty or innocent. In a civil case ajury will rule either in favor of the plaintiff or thedefendant.
slide15
Federal Officers of the CourtIn addition to district judges, the federal judicial districts have other officers that help the courts run.

United States Attorney:

United States Magistrate:

Issues federal arrest warrants, search warrants, and helps decide whether an arrested person should be held for a grand jury hearing. The US Magistrate is appointed by the President.

  • Each district has a US Attorney’s office. The job of the US Attorney’s office is to represent the US government in all civil cases involving the federal government, and to prosecute the accused in all federal criminal cases. Each districts US Attorney is appointed by the President.
united states marshall
United States Marshall:
  • The US Marshall’s office executes warrants, makes federal arrests, secures jurors for federal cases, and insures order is kept in federal courtrooms. The US Marshall is appointed by the President.
slide17
Other Federal CourtsBesides the District Courts, the United States Judicial Branch employs other courts for different reasons.
  • Federal Circuit Court of Appeals: The United States is divided into 12 federal judicial circuits with one court of appeals for each circuit.
  • There is a 13th court that has national jurisdiction and that usually handles very serious cases.
  • The job of these courts is simply to hear appeals cases of other federal courts. A panel of at least three judges hears and decides all federal appeals.
  • The appeals court has the power to make one of three decisions: reverse the original decision, uphold the original decision, or order the case to be sent back to lower court for a re-trial. All together there are 13 Federal Courts of Appeals. The decisions made by all 13 of these courts are final decisions unless they are appealed to, and accepted by the US Supreme Court, making these courts the second highest courts in the United States.
slide18

US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit: This is a special court of appeals with national jurisdiction. This court is set up to hear appeals brought to it by the US Claims Court, the Court of International Trade, the US Patent Office, and several federal agencies.

  • The Court of International Trade: This court has original jurisdiction over cases that deal with international tariffs. The US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears all appeals from this court.
slide19

United States Claims Court: This court has original jurisdiction over cases that deal with lawsuits against the Federal government. US Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit hears all appeals from this court.

  • United States Tax Court: This court has original jurisdiction over all cases that deal with federal taxes. One of the 12 US Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals from this court.
slide20

US Bankruptcy Court: Each federal judicial district has a special court set up to hear and decide bankruptcy cases. One of the 12 US Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals from this court.

  • The Court of Military Appeals: This court hears appeals cases involving members of the US Armed Forces convicted of a crime. The US Supreme Court hears appeals from this court.
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Territorial Courts: These courts hear federal civil and criminal cases in the US Territories of The Virgin Islands, Guam, the Northern Marianas Islands, American Samoa, and Puerto Rico. One of the 12 US Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals from this court.

  • Courts of the District of Columbia: Since Washington DC is a federal district; all local courts in that city are part of the federal judicial system. One of the 12 US Circuit Court of Appeals hears appeals from these courts.
united states supreme court
United States Supreme Court

Back row (left to right): Sonia Sotomayor, Stephen G. Breyer, Samuel A. Alito, and Elena Kagan. Front row (left to right): Clarence Thomas, Antonin Scalia, Chief JusticeJohn G. Roberts, Anthony Kennedy, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg

supreme court
Supreme Court
  • The Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. It has final authority in any case involving the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties with other nations.
  • Most of the cases the Supreme Court hears are appeals from lower courts making the Supreme Court mostly an appellate court. The decisions of the Supreme Court are binding on all lower courts.
  • The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction in cases involving representatives of foreign governments, and in certain cases where one of the States is a party (usually in lawsuits where one state is suing another state.)
supreme court1
Supreme Court
  • Many cases are appealed to the Supreme Court, too many for the Court to actually hear. The Supreme Court has the luxury of choosing which cases it will hear. The court chooses what cases it will hear based primarily on the case’s importance to the Constitution of the United States.
  • The decisions of the Supreme Court are final and cannot be overturned by any other court, Congress, or the President. There are only two ways to change a Supreme Court decision.
  • Supreme Court decisions can be overturned by other Supreme Court decisions.
  • An amendment to the Constitution can overturn a Supreme Court Decision.
who can be a supreme court justice
Who can be a Supreme Court Justice?
  • In order to be a Supreme Court Justice one must be a citizen of the United States, be appointed by the President, and have the appointment confirmed by the US Senate.
  • The Supreme Court is made up of a Chief Justice, and eight Associate Justices for a total of 9 justices.
  • Currently the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court is John Roberts. In addition to the normal duties of a Supreme Court Justice the Chief Justice also presides over the Supreme Court, and acts as the chief administrator of the nations court system.
  • The duties of Supreme Court Justices include deciding which cases to hear each session, making decisions on the cases the court hears, and each Justice is assigned one of the 12 Circuit Courts of Appeal to preside over (3 Justices preside over 2 Circuits.)
opinions
Opinions
  • Whenever a decision is made by the Supreme Court, one or more of the Justices writes what is called an opinion. There are two types of opinions.
  • Majority Opinion: This is an explanation of why the Court voted the way that it did in a case. The Majority Opinion is written by one of the justices that voted with the majority. If the Chief Justice is in the majority he will either write the opinion himself or assign the opinion to one of the Associate Justices; if the Chief Justice is not in the majority the longest serving Associate Justice in the majority will determine who writes it.
  • Dissenting Opinion: This is an explanation of why the members of the Court who voted against the decision voted that way. The Dissenting Opinion is written by one of the justices that voted against the decision. If the Chief Justice is one of the dissenters he will either write the opinion himself or assign the opinion to one of the Associate Justices; if the Chief Justice is not a dissenter the longest serving Associate Justice who dissents will determine who writes it.
famous supreme court cases
Famous Supreme Court Cases
  • MARBURY v. MADISON (1803)
  • DRED SCOTT v. SANFORD (1857):
  • PLESSY v. FERGUSON (1896):
  • BROWN v. BOARD OF EDUCATION (1954)
  • ROE v. WADE (1973)
  • Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)
  • Miranda v. Arizona (1966)
  • Furman v. Georgia (1972)