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Chapter 2 The Court System. §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….”

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1 the judiciary s role in american government
§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.
2 b asic judicial requirements
§ 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.
types of jurisdiction state
Types of Jurisdiction-State
  • In Personam Jurisdiction.
  • In Rem Jurisdiction.
  • Quasi In Rem Jurisdiction.
  • Subject Matter Jurisdiction.
  • Amount in Controversy.
  • Concurrent.
jurisdiction over persons
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).
jurisdiction over property
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.
other jurisdiction
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.
federal court jurisdiction
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.
jurisdiction in cyberspace
Jurisdiction in Cyberspace
  • “Sliding Scale” Standard
  • Case 2.2:Bird v. Parsons (2002).

Substantial Business Interaction



  • Venue is concerned with the most appropriate location for the trial.
  • Generally, proper venue is whether the injury occurred.
  • 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.
3 state and federal court systems

Texas Courts

Federal Courts

Ct. Criminal




U.S. Supreme


Court of



Courts of


District Court

County Court





U.S. District


§ 3: State and Federal Court Systems
state court system trial courts
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.
appellate courts
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.
supreme courts
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.
the federal court system
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.
procedural rules
Procedural Rules

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

stages of litigation
Stages of Litigation
  • Pleadings
  • Discovery
  • Pre-Trial
  • Trial
  • Post-Trial
litigation pleadings
Litigation- Pleadings

1st2nd 3rd 4th5thPleadings // Discovery // Pre-Trial // Trial // Post

  • Consult an Attorney.
  • Prepare Pleadings.
  • File Petition/Complaint.
    • Court acquires jurisdiction over subject matter and Plaintiff.
    • Facts: what happened?
    • Prayer: Court relief.
pleadings service of process
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].
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.
pleadings answer24
  • Defendant’s Answer:
    • May state General Denial.
    • Move for Change of Venue.
    • Allege Affirmative Defenses.
    • Counter Claim against Plaintiff.
dismissal and judgments before trial
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).
dismissal and judgments before trial26
Dismissal and Judgments Before Trial
  • Motion to Dismiss.
  • Motion for Judgment on Pleadings.
  • Motion for Summary Judgment.
litigation discovery
Litigation- Discovery

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

  • 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.
litigation pre trial
Litigation- Pre-Trial

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

litigation pre trial30
  • Mediation-Arbitration.
  • Disposition Without Trial:
    • Default Judgments.
    • Dismissals (With/Without Prejudice).
    • Summary Judgment.
    • Settlement.
  • Pre-Trial Orders (ex:TRO, In Limine).
litigation trial
Litigation- Trial

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

the trial
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.
the trial 2
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.
the trial 3
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.
the trial 4
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.
the trial 5
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.
the trial 6
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.
litigation post trial
Litigation- Post Trial

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

post trial
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).
post trial enforcement
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.
post trial appeal
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.
law on the web
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.