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Federal Court System


        How was it created?
Article III

Section 1. (Courts & Terms of Office)

Section 2. (Jurisdiction)

Section 3. (Treason)
              US Court Systems
   There are two court systems in the United
       National Judiciary (spans the country)
       State Courts (run by each of the 50 States)

   Different court systems are needed in order to
    allow each level to interpret their laws
    (remember federalism)

   The constitution gives certain rights to the
    federal government while reserving other rights
    for the state
                Court Systems
Federal                        State
   Created by the                Different in each state
    Constitution                  Deal with issues of law
   Deals with issues of law       relating to those matters
    relating to powers             that the US Constitution
    granted in the                 did not give to the federal
    Constitution                   government or deny to
                                   any state
            Criminal vs. Civil Law
    Criminal Law

   Concerns offenses against the
    authority of the state
   Violation of a law
   Punishment- Jail or prison, fine,
    death penalty
   Burden of Proof- is on state
   Defendant is innocent until
    proven guilty
   Must prove guilty beyond
    reasonable doubt (98-99%)
           Criminal vs. Civil Law
    Civil Law
   Law that determines private rights
    and liabilities
   Relates to human conduct and
    disputes between private parties
   Punishment- Only reimbursement for
    plaintiff’s losses
   Burden of Proof- On Plaintiff, prove
    more than 50% that defendant
    caused injury
     State or Federal Court???
   Read the scenarios and figure out if the
    case belongs in the federal or state court
    and why.
              National Judiciary
   The Constitution created the Supreme Court
    and left Congress to establish the inferior
    courts—the lower federal courts.

   There are two types of federal courts:
       Constitutional Courts
       Special Courts
                 Federal Courts
   Constitutional Courts
       Supreme Court
       Appeals
       District/Trial Courts

   Special Courts
       Military, tax court, veterans affairs etc.
       More specific and narrow cases
       Created by Congress
             What court hears the case?

       Authority of a court to hear (try and to decide)
        a case

   Article III, Section 2 of the Constitution
    provides that the federal courts may hear a
    case because either:
    (1) the subject matter or
    (2) the parties involved in the case.
               Types of Jurisdiction
           Exclusive and                 Original and Appellate
     Concurrent Jurisdiction                   Jurisdiction
   Some cases can only be            A court in which a case is
    heard in federal courts. In        first heard is said to have
    that case, federal courts          original jurisdiction over
    have exclusive                     that case.
    jurisdiction.                     A court that hears a case
   Many cases may be tried in         on appeal from a lower
    a federal court or a State         court has appellate
    court. In such an instance,        jurisdiction over that
    the federal and State courts       case.
    have concurrent                   The Supreme Court
    jurisdiction.                      exercises both original and
                                       appellate jurisdiction.
                 Appointment & Terms
   Federal judges and Supreme Court Justices are
    appointed by the President
      Subject to the approval of the Senate.

      Most federal judges are leading attorneys, legal
       scholars and law school professors, former members
       of Congress etc.

   Federal Judges Appointed For life (resign, retire, or die)
       Removal by impeachment (13 federal judges, 7 convicted)
       Own will

   Special Courts Appointed For 4-15 years

   Congress Determines salaries


Inferior Courts
 Chapter 18 Section 2
                The District Courts
    Federal Judicial                    District Court Jurisdiction

        Districts                       have original jurisdiction over
                                         most cases that are heard in
   The 94 federal judicial              federal courts.
    districts include at least          The district courts hear a
    one district in each State,          wide range of criminal
    the District of Columbia,            cases and civil cases.
    and Puerto Rico.                    A criminal case, in the federal
   Larger and more populous             courts, is one in which a
    States are divided into two          defendant is tried for
    or more districts, reflecting        committing some action that
                                         Congress declared by law to
    the larger amount of
                                         be a federal crime. A federal
    judicial work done there.
                                         civil case is one which
                                         involves noncriminal matters.
            The Courts of Appeals
The courts of appeals were created in 1891 to handle
much of the burden that the Supreme Court faced in
              ruling on appealed cases.

    Appellate Court Judges                  Appellate Court
   Altogether, 179 circuit                   Jurisdiction
    judges sit in the 12 appeals      The courts of appeals only
    courts.                            have appellate jurisdiction,
   A Supreme Court justice is         hearing cases on appeal
    also assigned to each of           from lower federal courts.
    the circuits.
        Other Constitutional Courts
           The Court of International Trade
   The Court of International Trade hears civil cases
    arising out of tariff and other trade-related laws.

    The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
   This appellate court has nationwide jurisdiction and
    hears cases from several different courts.
   Most cases heard arise from the U.S. Court of
    International Trade, the U.S. Court of Federal
    Claims, and the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans
           Supreme Court

The Justices of the Supreme Court of the United States as of 2007. Top row (left to
right): Stephen G. Breyer, Clarence Thomas, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, and Samuel A. Alito.
Bottom row (left to right): Anthony M. Kennedy, John Paul Stevens, Chief Justice John
G. Roberts, Antonin G. Scalia, and David H. Souter.
     Supreme Court- What?

   Only court sanctioned by the Constitution

   Power of Judicial Review:
       Determine if a law is constitutional

   Jurisdiction:
       Both Original & Appeal
           Supreme Court
3 tools to decided cases
1. Constitution

2. Precedent (Stare Decisis)

3. Society
                Judicial Review
   Judicial review
       power of a court to determine the
        constitutionality of a government action
   First asserted power of judicial review in
    the case of Marbury v. Madison (1803).
   The Court’s decision laid the foundation
    for its involvement in the development of
    the American system of government.

                                    Chapter 18, Section 3
      Supreme Court Jurisdiction
   Both original and appellate jurisdiction.

   The Court has original jurisdiction over cases
    involving two or more States and all cases
    brought against ambassadors or other public

   Most cases heard by the Court are appeals
    cases. The Court hears only one to two cases in
    which it has original jurisdiction per year.

                                    Chapter 18, Section 3
     How Cases Reach the Supreme Court
For a case to be heard by the Court, four of nine judges must
    agree that it should be placed on the Court’s docket.

      Writ of Certiorari                 Certificate
    Most cases reach the          Cases can reach the
     Court via writ of              Court by certificate
     certiorari, an order to        when a lower court
     a lower court to send a        asks for the Court to
     record in a given case         certify the answer to a
     for its review.                specific question in the
    Cert Denied, court             matter.
     refuses to hear case
                                       Chapter 18, Section 3
Chapter 18, Section 3
 How the Supreme Court Operates
Oral Arguments
   • Once the Supreme Court accepts a case, it
     sets a date on which lawyers on both sides
     will present oral arguments.
   • Briefs are written documents filed with the
     Court before oral arguments begin.
The Court in Conference
   • The Chief Justice presides over a closed-door
     conference in which justices present their
     views on the case at hand.
                                Chapter 18, Section 3
               Opinions of the Court
       Once the Court finishes its conference, it
     reaches a decision and its opinion is written.
          Majority Opinion                            Precedents
The majority opinion, formally          The majority opinions stand as
called the Opinion of the Court,        precedents, or examples to be
announces the Court’s decision in a     followed in similar cases as they
case and its reasoning on which it is   arise in the lower courts or reach the
based.                                  Supreme Court.

       Concurring Opinions                      Dissenting Opinions
Concurring opinions are                 Dissenting opinions are often
sometimes authored by justices to       written by those justices who do not
add or emphasize a point that was       agree with the Court's majority
not made in the majority opinion.       opinion.
     How cases reach the Supreme
   “Rule of Four”: 4/9 judges agree for a
    case to be put on the Court’s docket

   “Writ of certiorari”: “To be made more

   Certificate: Lower court is not clear

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