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Federal and State Courts
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Federal and State Courts


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  • 1. The Federal Courts• Original Jurisdiction: Court hears cases for the first time.• Appellate jurisdiction: Court hears cases on appeal, or cases that have been heard by a lower court in the past.
  • 2. U.S. District Courts (lowest level of federal courts)Total: At least 1 per state (89 total) ORIGINAL JURISDICTION ONLY—ONLY HEAR CASES FOR THE FIRST TIME Jury? Yes, this is the only federal court with a jury. Number of judges? At least 2 judges per court. Who appoints the judges? The president of the U.S. appoints and the U.S. Senate confirms. How much are they paid? $169,300 How long do they serve? Lifetime tenure. Types of Cases Heard: 300,000 criminal and civil cases per year. Criminal cases include mail fraud, income tax evasion, bank robbery and treason. Civil cases include disputes involving labor relations, public lands, copyright and patent laws, and civil rights.
  • 3. In NJ, we have 3 district courts:• Newark• Camden• Trenton The U.S. District Court in Trenton
  • 4. U.S. Court of Appeals• Appellate jurisdiction onlyJury? No, only a panel of judges—trials are not held here, rather a panel of 3+ judges hears arguments from attorneys on either side and reviews the lower court trial records.Number of judges? 6-27 judges per courtWho appoints the judges? The U.S. President appoints and Senate approvesHow much are they paid? $179,500/yearHow long do they serve? Lifetime appointmentHow do the judges decide on a case? (hint: 1 of 3 rulings) 1. uphold the lower court’s verdict 2. return the case to the lower court for a new trial 3. overturn the lower court’s verdict
  • 5. THE U.S. SUPREME COURTMostly APPELLATE Jurisdiction (cases from lower federal and state courts) AND ORIGINAL JURISDICTION (cases with foreign diplomats and cases involving a state)How do they choose their cases? Cases that pose significant legal or constitutional questions or are of great public interest and concern.How many petitions vs. cases heard? 6,000 petitions, 150 chosen for a full hearing.Define: Judicial Review: the Court can review any federal or state law to see if it is in agreement with the Constitution. If the Court finds that a law is unconstitutional, it can nullify (cancel) the law.How many justices? 9—8 associate judges and 1 chief justiceHow much are they paid? $213,900 Associate Judges and $223500 for Chief JusticeHow long do they serve for? Lifetime
  • 6. Current US Supreme Court Justices
  • 7. US Tax Court• Hears appeals dealing with federal tax laws• Hears cases from taxpayers who have a dispute with the IRS
  • 8. US Court of Federal Claims• Citizens who sue the government for money• If the citizen wins the case, Congress must appropriate money to pay the claim
  • 9. US Court of Military Appeals• Appeals court for military trials
  • 10. US Court of Int’l Trade• Trade and tariff laws.
  • 11. State Court• Misdemeanor:“lesser” crime, one punishable with incarceration for one year or less• Felony: a serious crime
  • 12. Misdemeanor or Felony?
  • 13. Municipal Court• Type of Jurisdiction: Original• Other names for this type of court?Justice court/ police court• What types of cases do these courts hear? Traffic violations, disturbing the peace, civil cases involving small sums of money• Where are these courts found?Towns, cities, small communities
  • 14. General Trial Court• All different types, depending on the state, but mostly original jurisdiction for felonies• How is innocence or guilt determined in this type of court?• Juries of 12 hear and decide cases. A judge guides the jury and does the sentencing• What types of cases do these courts hear?• Felonies• Where are these courts found?• Depends on the state. In NJ, each county has a general trial court
  • 15. Essex County Courthouse
  • 16. State Appellate Courts• Appellate jurisdiction only (cases from trial court)• Why would an appellate court review a case/hear an appeal?• Usually because the trial court violated one of the defendant’s constitutional rights to a fair trial.• Who works in this type of court?• No jury, panel of judges reviews the records of the trial court’s proceedings.
  • 17. State Supreme Court• Mostly appellate jurisdiction• Who works in this type of court? How do they get their job?No jury, panel of judges, usually elected by voters (in NJ, appointed by governor)• How do they hear cases in this type of court?• The judges hear arguments from lawyers on both sides and decides the case by majority vote
  • 18. NJ State Supreme Court