The Judicial Branch
• A court’s Ability to hear a case
• Types of federal cases
– Admiralty or Maritime Law
– Bankruptcy, Copyrights, and Patents
Types of Jurisdiction
• Original Jurisdiction- Ability to hear a case
for the first time
• Appellate Jurisdiction- Ability to hear a
case on appeal.
• Concurrent Jurisdiction- States and
federal courts share jurisdiction
US District Courts
US Circuit Courts
Federal Judge Appointment
• What does it Take?
Go to school to be a?
Where to get your Law Degree?
Make friends with influential
Make Sure The President Knows
Pass Senate Scrutiny.
The ―Good Life‖
Removal of Judges
• Impeachment-Treason, Bribery,and other
high crimes and misdemeanors.
– Samuel Chase—The first Supreme Court
Justice to be impeached. Was not convicted
by the Senate
– Harry E. Claiborne---District Court Justice—
Impeached and removed. Filing false tax
returns in 1979 & 1980.
• Removed from office
for corruption and
perjury. He is only the
6th federal judge to
be impeached and
removed from office
in American history.
• 69 for and 26
Federal Judge Salary and Perks
– Retirement is based on two factors: age and years of
– Age 65 and 15 years of service—full salary for the
rest of their lives
– Age 70 and 10 years of service also get full pay
– Critics argue that federal judges are not paid enough
and may judges have returned to private legal
practice where they may easily earn twice as much.
Federal Judge Salary Chart
Federal Judge Selection Process
• Presidents take great care in selecting
judicial appointments because they serve
• The Attorney General assists in the
selection process by creating a list of
candidates usually State Court Judges,
Law Professors, and outstanding lawyers.
Matching Criteria In a Federal
• The Attorney General looks for a
candidate whose political philosophies and
political party ties match the President’s.
• Political Groups and The Senate also
Our Current Supreme Court
Roberts, 50, a U.S. Appeals judge, was
sworn in as the 17th chief justice of the
U.S. Supreme Court hours after
senators voted 78-to-22 to confirm him
on Sept. 29, 2005. He is the first new
Supreme Court justice since 1994 and
has the potential of leading the court
John Paul Stevens, Associate
• Was born in Chicago, Illinois, April 20, 1920. He married Maryan
Mulholland, and has four children. Second Vice President of the
Chicago Bar Association in 1970. From 1970–1975, he served as a
Judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit.
President Ford nominated him as an Associate Justice of the Supreme
Court, and he took his seat December 19, 1975.
• Alito became the 110th member of the
Supreme Court on Jan. 31, 2006,
replacing Justice Sandra Day O'Connor, a
moderate conservative who retired. He is
expected to align himself with the court's
solidly conservative bloc and could affect
the outcome of votes on key social issues
such as abortion and civil rights.
Antonin Scalia, Associate Justice
• Was born in Trenton, New Jersey, March 11,
• President Reagan nominated him as
• an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court, and
he took his seat September 26, 1986.
• He received his A.B. from Georgetown
University and the University of
• Fribourg, Switzerland, and his LL.B. from
Harvard Law School, and was a Sheldon Fellow
• of Harvard University from 1960–1961.
Anthony M. Kennedy, Associate
• was born in Sacramento, California, July
• President Reagan nominated him as an
Associate Justice of the Supreme Court,
and he took his seat February 18, 1988.
David Hackett Souter, Associate
• was born in Melrose, Massachusetts,
September 17, 1939.
Clarence Thomas, Associate
• was born in the Pin Point community of
Georgia near Savannah June 23, 1948.
Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Associate
Was born in Brooklyn, New York, March
• 15, 1933.
Stephen G. Breyer, Associate
was born in San Francisco, California,
August 15, 1938.
Sandra Day O’Connor
Justice Political Ideology
Why Does Your Political Ideology
• What are some of the issues that may face
the court where ideology could play a
BRINGING A CASE TO THE
• CHANCES OF HAVING A CASE HEARD-
LESS THAN 1 IN 10,000
• THE SUPREME COURT HEARS ABOUT 150
CASES A YEAR.
• PRESENTED TO THE COURT-
– ON APPEAL(10%)
– WRIT OF CERTIORARI - ORDER FROM THE
SUPREME COURT TO LOWER COURT TO SEND
RECORDS OF A CASE.
» EITHER PARTY OF CASE MAY PEITION THE
SUPREME COURT FOR A ―CERT‖
– Most DEAL WITH AN ISSUE OF CONSTITUIONALITY
OR ERROR IN LOWER COURT
REASONS FOR DENIAL
» CONSTITUIONALITY OF LAW- PERSON MUST
ACTUALLY BE HARMED
» WILL NOT RULE ON CONSTITUTIONALITY OF
» MOOT QUESTIONS- QUESTIONS THAT MAKE
» POLITICAL QUESTIONS THAT MAY BE
HANDLED BY THE EXECUTIVE OR LEGISLATIVE
– CAN BE EXPENSIVE
» COURT ALLOWS FREE CERTS
» PAYS AN ATTORNEY TO REPRESENT- IN
FORMA PAUPERIS ―IN THE MANNER OF A
– FILING BRIEFS- WRITTEN DOCUMENT ARGUING ONE
SIDE OF THE CASE
– DOCKET- ONCE BRIEF IS FILED, CASE GOES ON THE
– Oral Arguments- After a two week sitting, the court
recesses to conference to decide on cases
– Conferences-Each Justice is called upon to present his/her
view and then they put the case to a vote. Six justices
must be present to vote. In case of a tie, the lower court
– After the justices vote they issue a short statement of their
decision or more lengthy written opinion.
Parts Of a Supreme Court Case
• Facts of the Case
• Question Presented
• Precedent Set
How to report on A Supreme Court
Facts of the Case
• John Tinker(15) and his Mary Beth
Tinker(16) protested the Vietnam War in
School by wearing black arm bands in
school. To prevent disturbances, the
Principals within the Des Moines School
District ordered the students to remove
them or face suspension.
• Does the barring of wearing of armbands
in school constitute a violation of free
speech by the First Amendment?
7-2 in favor of Tinker
Majority Opinion/ Opinion of the
• Wearing black arm bands in protest of a
government action( Vietnam War) where
the exercised their 1st Amendment rights
(symbolic speech) in this setting where the
Principals lacked justification (no threats of
violence in the school against other
students), the court upheld Tinker’s
• Justice Harlan and Black felt the School
Board should make that decision.
Precedent—What does it do for
• Let the decision stand.
• Legal Precedents- Once the Supreme
Court makes a ruling on one case it
becomes a model for future cases that are
• Judicial Activism- Belief that Judges should take an
active role in policy making even if it means going
beyond the actions of elected officials. Earl Warren’s
court(1953-1969) was considered an activist court
because of Miranda vs. Arizona and Brown vs. Board
• Judicial Restraint-The view that judicial decisions
should not contradict the wishes of elected members
of government unless the Constitution is clearly
violated. Felix Frankfurter ―One’s own opinion
about the wisdom or evil of a law should be excluded
altogether when one is doing one’s duty on the
Why are Supreme Court Justices
appointed for life.
• Judges are expected to:
– Be Independent
– Be Unbiased
– Be Protectors of the Constitution
– However, they are human and read the
newspaper and can never ignore public
opinion. Ex. Minersville school District vs.
Gobitis upheld compulsory flag salute laws.
Public criticism followed and led to a complete
turnaround in West Va. vs. Barnette
American Law and the legal
Sources of American Law
– Statutory Law
– Common Law
• Powers of the Government
• Rights of Individuals
• Written Laws passed by legislatures and
other lawmaking bodies.
• Federal lawmaking bodies and state
lawmaking bodies enact statutes and local
lawmaking bodies enact ordinances.
• Federal-------The Family and Medical Leave Act of
1993 (FMLA) entitles a covered employee to take up
to 12 weeks of leave in a 12-month period for the
birth or adoption of a child, or the "serious health
condition" of the employee or the employee's child,
spouse, or parent. To protect this right, the FMLA
prohibits an employer from interfering with an
employee's attempt to exercise his leave right or
retaliating against an employee for opposing
practices made unlawful under the FMLA. If an
employer engages in these prohibited acts, the
FMLA allows any one or more employees to bring
suit for damages.
– New Teen Driving Laws
– Speed Limit
• Develops from court cases(case law).
– Example Abortion laws
• Roe v. Wade
• System to prevent wrongs from being
• Honoring Contracts
Two areas of Law
• Private– Actions initiated by individuals to
• Public---Actions initiated the government
to benefit the people as a whole.
• Also known as Civil Law
– Disputes between individuals dealing with:
• Family Relations
– Real Estate
• A Legal agreement between two or more
• Child Custody
• Wrongful act that injures a person or property.
• There are three categories of Tort:
– Intentional—A willful act carried out with malice.
– Negligence---- Failure to do something that a
normal reasonable person would do and results in
injury (personal or property)
– Strict Liability– Accidents for which someone can
be held liable even if there is no negligence.
• Assault– Intentionally causing someone to
fear for his/her own life.
• Battery– Physically harming someone.
• False imprisonment– Intentionally
preventing someone from going where
they have a legal right to go.
• Trespass– Illegally entering another’s real
Crimes against people(felonies)
• Homicide—Killing a person
– 1st Degree – Intentional and planned
– Felony Murder—Killing that takes place during the
commission of felonies such as arson rape or burglary.
Most states consider this to be first degree murder
regardless of whether premeditation exists.
– 2nd Degree—Intentional but unplanned
– Voluntary Manslaughter—Killing that would otherwise be
murder, but occurs after the victim does something to the
killer that would cause the average person to lose self
– Involuntary Manslaughter—Unintentional and unplanned
killing that results from recklessness.
– Negligent Homicide—Killing resulting from negligence.
– Noncriminal homicide—Justifiable or excusable
Crimes against the person cont.
Kidnapping--Taking or carrying away a person
Mayhem—Intentionally maiming or disfiguring
Robbery– Taking of another persons by violence or
Crimes against property
• Arson– Burning another persons property
• Vandalism (malicious mischief)—Willful destruction
or damage to the property of another.
• Burglary—Breaking into another person’s property
with the intent of committing a crime
• Forgery– Providing false information to secure
unfair or unlawful gain
• Larceny--Taking another person’s property without
• Embezzlement—Unlawful taking of property by
someone whom it was entrusted.
• Extortion(blackmail)—The use of threats to obtain
the property of another.
• Receiving stolen property—To buy or ereceive
property that you have reason to believe is stolen.
Criminal codes vary between states
• Concerns relationship between the
government and its citizens.
– Administrative Law---Rules and regulations
made by agencies.
– Constitutional Law
Steps In The Trial Procedure
– Peremptory Challenge
– Hung Jury
– Issue Subpoenas- Command Evidence to be
delivered or order witnesses to appear in
court to testify.
• Failure to appear or provide evidence could result
in being held in contempt which is a serious
criminal charge punishable by a $2500 fine and up
to two years in prison.
– Witnesses are asked to give depositions
• A formal interview given under oath before the trial
• Pre trial Motions– Both sides may file
• Exclude illegally obtained evidence
• Move for a change in venue
• Have the defendant evaluated by a psychiatrist
• They often serve as the basis for later appeals
• Choosing Jurors
– Potential jurors are selected from voter
registration lists, taxpayer lists, Motor vehicle
registrations, and telephone lisitngs.
How is my name Chosen?
• The process of selecting jurors begins
when a computer randomly chooses
names from the per capita tax rolls. If a
person's name is chosen then a
questionnaire is sent which includes
questions that allow for a determination if
the person may be qualified for jury duty.
• The United States and Pennsylvania
Constitutions GUARANTEE THE RIGHT
TO A TRIAL BY JURY. THE
EFFECTIVENESS OF THE JURY
SYSTEM DEPENDS UPON CITIZENS'
WILLINGNESS TO SERVE, AS WELL AS
JURORS' ABILITY TO BE FAIR AND
IMPARTIAL WHILE DECIDING THE
FACTS AND APPLYING THE LAW.
Who can be a juror?
• 18 years old
• American Citizen
Who cannot be a juror?
• You cannot speak or understand English
• You have been convicted of a felony during the past
seven years OR you are a defendant in a felony case
• You are in jail or prison.
• You are a State Senator or Representative and the
legislature is in session.
• You are a judge of the Superior Court, Appellate
Court or Supreme Court, or you are a federal court
• Physical or mental infirmity that you believe would
impair your capacity to serve as a juror
• Do you have any other reason for excusal?
Dauphin County Jurors Creed
• I am a juror. I accept the position not only as an honor but as my solemn duty.
• I will remember the men who died to give us, and retain for us, the right of trial by
jury, and I will reflect upon the fate of those people whose government gives them no
• I will act with the realization that the success of the jury system depends upon the
willingness of men and women of integrity and intelligence to accept jury service, and
upon the fidelity with which they discharge that responsibility.
• I will respect the judge, his or her education, training and experience.
• I will listen attentively to all the evidence, the arguments of counsel, and the judge's
instructions, and will thoughtfully and impartially weigh the issues.
• During the trial, I will not discuss the case with others nor permit others to discuss it
with me; neither will I read about it in the newspapers, nor listen to broadcasts about
• While hearing a case I will keep an open mind until the case is finally submitted to the
• I will observe the legal procedure not as red tape, but as a device developed through
thousands of years of protection of the people.
• I will consider all of the evidence fully and fairly uninfluenced by friendship, sympathy,
bias or prejudice.
Jury pool Selection
• Jurors receive summons
• Complete questionnaires
• Arrive at Courthouse in the morning
• Another Questionnaire
• Number assignment
• Draw numbers
• If your number is drawn you travel to the
• The judge reviews your questionnaires and asks
if anything on there will affect your impartiality
Jury Selection Cont’d
• The attorneys review your answers and
each side decides who they want to
• Jurors appear in court.
• Pre-trial questioning of jurors by both sides
to determine their qualifications to serve.
– Do you know either of the litigants?
– Do you know anything about the case at
• Must be open to both sides
• Any potential juror can be challenged (for
reason) due to a bias against one of the
• Peremptory juror challenge allows either
side to disqualify a potential without
• The jury may be sequestered if the judge
• Opening--statement by the prosecution
– Outlines evidence to be presented as proof
that the defendant did commit the crime.
• Opening statement by the defense.
– Outlines the evidence to support the
The Trial Cont’d
• Prosecution calls witnesses and presents
– Direct Examination
• The defense cross examines the
prosecution’s witnesses an attempts to
challenge and discredit the evidence
• Opportunity for redirect
The Trial Cont’d
• After the prosecution presents their
evidence, the defense may move for
dismissal. If the judge agrees that the
prosecution has failed to prove their case,
the judge may dismiss the case.
The Trial Cont’d
• The Defense calls their witnesses and
presents their evidence
– Direct Examination
• The Prosecution cross examines
• Opportunity for redirect
• Misrepresentation Objection– If either side feels
the witness is misrepresenting their character.
• Leading Questions– Prosecutors must allow
their witnesses to tell their own stories and not
lead them through.
• Immaterial and irrelevant– Testimony is not
closely related to the case.
• Opinions and conclusions– Unless the witness is
an expert, they cannot testify in an expert
• Non-responsive answer—The witness is not
answering the question.
The Trial Cont’d
• Closing Arguments– Each side outlines
the evidence they have presented in a way
to make the jury believe that they proved
• Discuss and weigh evidence.
• Decision must Be ______________.
• Not Guilty
• Hung Jury
• Defendant may appeal
• Defendant is free to go
• Just like a Mistrial
• Another Trial is schedules at a later date.