Chapter 12 The Courts. The Common Law Tradition Dates from 1066 and William the Conqueror’s Curiae Regis and Year Books
They have general jurisdiction: They can hear a wide variety of cases.
There are other lower courts of specialty. They have a limited jurisdiction: They can try cases involving only certain types of claims.
There is at least one federal district court per state. Currently, there are 94 district courts in the nation, including one in Yosemite National Park.
If you lose your case here, you can appeal it to the next highest court: The U.S. Court of Appeals or appellate court.U.S. District Courts
We live in the 9th Circuit in Sacramento.
Twelve of these hear appeals from their respective circuits, including the Court of Appeal for the District of Columbia.
The 13th Circuit or Federal Circuit has NATIONAL Appellate jurisdiction over certain cases such as patent law, and where the U.S. government is named as a defendant in a case
These are not Trial Courts like U.S. District Courts, they have panels of three or more judges that review the record of the case. (transcripts)
These Courts do not look at questions of fact, but questions of law.
If you lose here, you can appeal this ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court.U.S. Courts of Appeal
Nine Justices since 1837
Original Jurisdiction: A trial court in cases affecting foreign diplomats and those in which a state is a party.
Appellate Jurisdiction: Hears cases from federal appellate courts and state Supreme Courts. It can review a state supreme court decision ONLY IF a federal question is involved.
Sup. Ct. term begins on the first Monday in October and usually adjourns in June or July. Special sessions can be held.
It hears less than one-half of one percent of all cases decided every year.U.S. Supreme Court
Defendant: Party against whom the lawsuit is brought.
Special Interest group lawsuits have increased over the years because they litigateor bring an issue to trial…1/3 of all business cases, and nearly all civil liberties cases.
Interest groups file Amicus Curiae: “Friend of the Court” briefs.
Interest groups also bring class-action suits: Decisions that affect members of a class.
State and federal courts have established procedural rules that are followed in court. Parties must comply, or they either commit civil contempt: failing to comply with a court’s order for the benefit of another party to the proceeding, or criminal contempt: usually obstruction of justice.Parties and Procedures
Which Cases Reach the Supreme Court? – a subjective process, but certain factors increase a case’s chances
More than 90 percent of them are denied.
“Rule of Four”
Denial is not meant to be a decision
Court does not hear evidence either
Court considers abstracts, the record, and briefs
Attorneys give Oral Arguments
These are given Mon. through Wed. and sometimes Thurs. for seven two-week sessions from the first week in Oct. to the end of April or the beginning of May.
Justices then meet, discuss, and vote in conference in private each Wed. and Friday throughout the term.
They are look at new petitions at this time.Granting Petitions for Review
Life Tenure (resign, retire, die, impeached).
Nominations are suggested to the president by senators, DOJ, other judges, interest groups, lawyers, candidates themselves.
Factors to consider: character, politics, competence, gender, ethnicity. Procedure: President nominates, Senate confirms or rejects with help from the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Federal District Judgeships: Senatorial Courtesy – A constraint on the president by nominees own senator.
FDJ nominations begin with a senator from the state and of the president’s party. The president works with the senators.
For Circuit Court of Appeals Judges: The president consults the Circuit Judge Nominating Commission list of nominees as candidates.
For the Supreme Court: The president nominates a candidate.
Most candidates have been in private practice or state/federal judges.
Ideology is considered important in order to institutionalize a president’s political views long after they are gone from office.
The Senate has rejected about 20 percent of nominees due to ideology.Selection of Federal Judges