The Courts by pengtt

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									     The Courts

What reporters need to know
            Civil and criminal
 Criminal law covers harms done against the
  people.
    Examples: Murder, theft, reckless driving
    Crimes are punishable by fines and/or incarceration
 Civil law covers harms done against a person
    Examples: Wrongful death; breach of contract; libel
    They are punishable by payment to the injured party,
     called “damages”
                Terminology
 In a criminal trial, the person accused of (“charged
  with”, not “arrested for”) the crime is called a
  defendant.
 In a civil trial, the person accused of doing the
  harm is the defendant; the person allegedly
  harmed is the plaintiff. The plaintiff “sues” the
  defendant.
 The term “person” includes corporations, which
  have the legal status of persons under U.S. law.
   Guarantee of trial by jury
 Michigan’s Constitution guarantees…
   … Criminal defendants legal assistance and a
    speedy, public trial before an impartial jury.
      Defendant may waive jury trial and be tried before a
       judge.
   …. Parties to a civil suit a trial by jury if either
    party requests it.
      Otherwise, civil suits are tried by a judge.
            Role of the jury
 The job of the jury is to
   Hear the evidence
   Determine the facts
   Reach a verdict based on the facts after being
    instructed on the law by the judge.
             Role of the judge
 In a jury trial
    See that a fair trial is held
    Instruct the jury on the applicable law
 In a non-jury trial
    See that a fair trial is held
    Determine the facts and the law
    Reach a verdict
 In case of a guilty verdict
    Pass sentence
             Role of attorneys
 U.S. courts operate on the basis of an “adversarial
  system”
 Defense
    Provides the defendant every legal protection the law
     allows, including presumption of innocence.
    Does its damndest to get an acquittal
 Prosecution
    Does its damndest, within the law, to get a conviction
    Michigan’s court system I
 Trial Courts
   District Court
   Circuit Court
   Probate Court
 Hear evidence and reach verdicts in civil
  and criminal cases.
    Michigan’s court system II
 Appellate Courts
    Court of Appeals
    Supreme Court
 Review trials (and rulings by lower appeals
  courts) for legal errors; they do not hear evidence
 They can uphold or overturn a verdict, or
  “remand” it back to the trial court for a new trial.
                Circuit Court
 Trial court with broadest powers
    Tries civil cases >$25,000
    Tries criminal cases >one year in prison (felonies).
    Can carry out any function normally handled by district
     or probate courts.
 Family Division
    Divorce
    Juvenile delinquency
    Adoption etc.
            District Court I
 “The People’s Court”
   Tries most traffic violations
   Tries civil cases <$25,000
   Tries criminal cases < one year in jail
    (misdemeanors).
   Serves as intake court for felonies
           District court II
 Arraigns all criminal defendants >17
 Defendant is brought before a judge
 Judge explains
   The charges
   The defendant’s rights
   The possible consequences if convicted
 Judge sets bail
             District court III
 For felonies and misdemeanors
   Conducts preliminary examination to determine
      Was a crime committed?
      Is there probable cause to believe the defendant did it?
   If so, and the crime is a misdemeanor, a trial date is set.
   If so, and the crime is a felony, the defendant is “bound
    over” to circuit court for trial.
   Defendant can waive preliminary examination and
    plead guilty.
           District Court IV
 Small claims division
   Handles civil suits <$3,000
   Parties not represented by attorney
   Can be heard by judge or “magistrate” (a
    lawyer appointed by the court to hear minor
    cases).
   Decision is final if reached by a judge; can be
    appealed if reached by a magistrate.
            Other trial courts
 Probate Court
   Handles wills, estates, guardianship decisions.
 Court of Claims
   Based in Ingham County
   Handles civil claims against the state of Michigan
 Municipal Courts
 Michigan Tax Tribunal
         Appellate Courts I
 Court of Appeals
   Appeals to this court are guaranteed to all
    convicted criminal defendants.
   Courts can decide whether to take appeals from
    those who pleaded guilty or “no contest,” as
    well as appeals of civil cases.
   Decisions are final except for cases accepted by
    the Supreme Court.
         Appellate Courts II
 Michigan Supreme Court
   Comprises seven “justices” (not judges).
   Decides whether to accept appeals, criminal or
    civil.
   Generally only accepts appeals that involve
      Constitutional issues
      Matters of public significance
     Questions?
Today’s PowerPoint design is ‘Wood’
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