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Chapter 2 The Court System

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  1. Chapter 2The Court System

  2. §1: The Judiciary’s Role in American Government • Judicial Review was established in Marbury v. Madison (1803): “It is emphatically the province and duty of the Judicial Department to say what the law is….” • Today the judicial power is exercised by both federal and state courts.

  3. § 2: Basic Judicial Requirements • “Juris” (law) “diction” (to speak) is the power of a court to hear a dispute and to “speak the law” into a controversy and render a verdict that is legally binding on the parties to the dispute.

  4. Types of Jurisdiction-State • In Personam Jurisdiction. • In Rem Jurisdiction. • Quasi In Rem Jurisdiction. • Subject Matter Jurisdiction. • Amount in Controversy. • Concurrent.

  5. Jurisdiction Over Persons • Power of a court to compel the presence of the parties (including corporations) to a dispute to appear before the court and litigate. • Courts use long-arm statutes for non-resident parties based on “minimum contacts” with state. • Case 2.1:Cole v. Mileti (1998).

  6. Jurisdiction over Property • In Rem jurisdiction is the power to decide issues relating to property, whether the property is real, personal, tangible, or intangible. • A court generally has in rem jurisdiction over any property situated within its geographical borders.

  7. Other Jurisdiction • Courts can also exercise jurisdiction over: • The Subject Matter of the Case (e.g., bankruptcy, family or criminal cases). • The Amount in Controversy (the amount of damages) • Original and Appellate. • Exclusive vs. Concurrent jurisdiction.

  8. Federal Court Jurisdiction • “Federal Question” cases involve rights or obligations of a party that are created or defined by some federal law. • “Diversity” cases exist where: • The parties are not from the same state, and • The amount in controversy is greater than $75,000.

  9. Jurisdiction in Cyberspace • “Sliding Scale” Standard • Case 2.2:Bird v. Parsons (2002). Substantial Business Interaction NoYes PassiveWebsite

  10. Venue • Venue is concerned with the most appropriate location for the trial. • Generally, proper venue is whether the injury occurred.

  11. Standing • In order to bring a lawsuit, a party must have “standing” to sue. • Standing is sufficient “stake” in the controversy; party must have suffered a legal injury.

  12. Texas Courts Federal Courts Ct. Criminal Appeals Supreme Court U.S. Supreme Court Court of Appeals Circuit Courts of Appeals District Court County Court Justice Court Municipal Court U.S. District Court § 3: State and Federal Court Systems

  13. State Court System: Trial Courts • “Courts of record”-court reporters. • Opening and closing arguments. • Juries are selected. • Evidence, such as witness testimony, physical objects, documents, and pictures, is introduced. • Witnesses are examined and cross-examined. • Verdicts and Judgments are rendered.

  14. Appellate Courts • Middle level of the court systems. • Review proceedings conducted in the trial court to determine whether the trial was according to the procedural and substantive rules of law. • Generally, appellate courts will consider questions of law, but not questions of fact.

  15. Supreme Courts • Also known as courts of last resort. • The two most fundamental ways to have your case heard in a supreme court are: • Appeals of Right. • By Writ of Certiorari.

  16. The Federal Court System • U.S. District Courts are the ‘Trial’ courts of the federal court system. • U.S. Courts of Appeals. • United States Supreme Court. • Writ of Certiorari (Rule of Four). • Typically, involve important constitutional questions.

  17. American and English court systems follow the adversarial system of justice. §4: Judicial Procedures: Following a Case through the Court

  18. Procedural Rules Court systems developed around the common law concept of “due process” which requires adequate notice and a fair and impartial hearing.

  19. Stages of Litigation • Pleadings • Discovery • Pre-Trial • Trial • Post-Trial

  20. Litigation- Pleadings 1st2nd 3rd 4th5thPleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  21. Pleadings • Consult an Attorney. • Prepare Pleadings. • File Petition/Complaint. • Court acquires jurisdiction over subject matter and Plaintiff. • Facts: what happened? • Prayer: Court relief.

  22. Pleadings-Service of Process • Defendant served with Complaint and Summons. • Court acquires Personal Jurisdiction over Defendant (person or corporation). • Corporate Defendants are served via Registered Agent. • Case 2.3:Rio Properties v. Rio International Interlink (2002) [service by e-mail].

  23. Pleadings-Answer • The Answer is the Defendant’s response to the allegations stated in the Plaintiff’s Complaint. • In the Answer, the Defendant must specifically admit or deny each allegation in the Complaint.

  24. Pleadings-Answer • Defendant’s Answer: • May state General Denial. • Move for Change of Venue. • Allege Affirmative Defenses. • Counter Claim against Plaintiff.

  25. Dismissal and Judgments Before Trial • Defendant can move the Court to dismiss the Action for various reasons, such as: • The Court lacks jurisdiction. • The Plaintiff has failed to make all of the allegations, in his Complaint, that the law requires (i.e., the plaintiff has failed to state a cause of action).

  26. Dismissal and Judgments Before Trial • Motion to Dismiss. • Motion for Judgment on Pleadings. • Motion for Summary Judgment.

  27. Litigation- Discovery 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  28. Discovery • Discovery is the process by which parties obtain information from the opposing party prior to trial. Various tools are used: • Depositions & Interrogatories. • Requests for Admissions. • Requests for Production of Documents, Object and Entry.

  29. Litigation- Pre-Trial 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  30. Litigation-Pre-Trial • Mediation-Arbitration. • Disposition Without Trial: • Default Judgments. • Dismissals (With/Without Prejudice). • Summary Judgment. • Settlement. • Pre-Trial Orders (ex:TRO, In Limine).

  31. Litigation- Trial 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5th Pleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  32. The Trial • Trial is fundamentally an evidence presentation and authentication procedure. • To prevail, Plaintiff must introduce a preponderance of competent, relevant evidence with respect to each disputed allegation in order to prove it.

  33. The Trial [2] • The Defendant will attempt to introduce a preponderance of competent evidence to disprove at least one of the disputed allegations. • Hearsay is inadmissible.

  34. The Trial [3] • Bench Trial (no jury). • Jury Selection process involves: • Voire Dire; • Challenges to biased jurors; • Pick and Impanel the Jury; and • Selection of an Alternate Juror.

  35. The Trial [4] • Opening Statements (Plaintiff first). • Plaintiff’s Case--Evidence: • Witnesses- Direct examination vs. Cross X. • Admissibility of evidence decided by judge. Parties object to admission of evidence and judge decides, as a matter of law, whether evidence may be admitted into the trial.

  36. The Trial [5] • Plaintiff’s Case (cont’d). • Party may impeach the testimony or credibility of opposing witness by showing prior inconsistent statements and/or perjury. • Defendant’s Case is next. • Closing Arguments (Plaintiff first). • Jury Instructions, Deliberations and Verdict.

  37. The Trial [6] • Jury’s Verdict: • Criminal case--burden of proof is “beyond a reasonable doubt” and the verdict (for guilty or acquittal) must be unanimous. If not, mistrial/hung jury. • Civil Cases—generally, burden of proof is by “preponderance” of the evidence and a majority of jurors must agree on verdict. If not, then mistrial/ hung jury.

  38. Litigation- Post Trial 1st 2nd 3rd 4th 5thPleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  39. Post Trial • Judgment: Jury verdict is entered by the Clerk of Court. • A party may move for a New Trial. • Case 2.4:LeBlanc v. American Honda (1997). • A party may file a Motion for Judgment N.O.V.. • Sentencing (criminal).

  40. Post Trial-Enforcement • Once a judgment becomes final (i.e., subject to no further judicial review) the defendant is legally required to comply with its terms. • Defendants who will not voluntarily comply with a judgment can be compelled to do so by seizure and sale of the Defendant’s assets.

  41. Post Trial-Appeal • A party may appeal not only the jury’s verdict by any legal issue, motion or court ruling during the trial. • The party filing the appeal (Appellant) files a brief that contains a short statement of the facts, issues, rulings by the trial court, grounds to reverse the judgment, applicable law and arguments on Appellant’s behalf. • Appeals court can affirm (agree with) or reverse (disagree with) the lower court’s decision.

  42. Law on the Web • Federal Rules of Evidence at Cornell U. • National Center for State Courts. • Michigan Cybercourt. • U.S. Supreme Court. • Federal Court System. • Legal Research Exercises on the Web.

  43. Complaint Return

  44. Summons Return