Federal courts

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Federal courts

  1. 1. The Federal Court System Authority of the Courts
  2. 2. Two Levels of Courts • Federal Courts • powers derive from: • U.S. Constitution • federal laws • State Courts • powers derive from: • state constitutions • State laws (Note: sometimes called “dual court system”)
  3. 3. Jurisdiction of the Courts • Federal Court Jurisdiction • Concurrent Jurisdiction • Original and Appellate Jurisdiction
  4. 4. Federal Court Jurisdiction • Jurisdiction basically = authority to hear certain kinds of cases • In dual court system, state courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state laws and federal courts over cases involving federal laws • Sometimes jurisdiction overlaps • Two factors determine jurisdiction of fed courts • Subject matter of a case • Parties involved in case
  5. 5. Federal Court Jurisdiction (con’t) • Federal Courts try cases that involve: • U.S. laws, treaties with foreign nations, or interpretations of the Constitution • Cases involving maritime law (law of the sea), including ships, their crews, and disputes over actions and rights at sea • Cases involving bankruptcy
  6. 6. Federal Court Jurisdiction (con’t) • Federal courts hear cases if the following persons or parties are involved: • Ambassadors and other reps of foreign governments • Two or more state governments • The U.S. government or one of its offices or agencies • Citizens of different states • A state and a citizen of a different state • A citizen of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states • A state or its citizens and a foreign country or its citizens
  7. 7. Concurrent Jurisdiction • In most cases, difference between jurisdictions is clear • When both state and federal courts seem to have jurisdiction, situation known as concurrent jurisdiction • $ amount being sued for must be at least $50K • Suit can be tried in state court if agreed upon by both parties, but must be tried in federal court if at least one party insists
  8. 8. Original and Appellate Jurisdiction • Original jurisdiction: held by the court in which a case is originally tried • State level: trial court • Federal level: U.S. District Court • Appellate Jurisdiction: held by the court in which appeals may be heard • State level: Appellate courts • Federal level: U.S. Courts of Appeal
  9. 9. Federal State U.S. Supreme Court Supreme Court U.S. Court of Appeals Appellate Courts U.S. District Courts Trial Courts
  10. 10. Federal Court Organization • One Supreme Court • 13 U.S. Circuit Courts (Courts of Appeal) • Country divided into 11 circuits, Court of Appeals for D.C. , and Federal Circuit Court of Appeals • FL located in 11th Circuit w/ GA and AL • 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, but occasionally hears cases in Jacksonville, Miami, Mobile, and Montgomery • FL has 3 District Courts: Northern, Middle, and Southern District Courts • Although the Middle District Court HQ is in Orlando, there is a Tampa Division at the Sam M. Gibbons U.S. Courthouse on N. Florida Ave.
  11. 11. 3 Types of Law in Federal Court • Civil • Criminal • Constitutional
  12. 12. Civil Law • Represent most cases in federal courts • Disputes between: • 2 or more individuals • Individuals and the government • Plaintiff brings charges against a defendant • Usually suing for damages and court costs • Equity law…resolved on grounds of fairness • Plaintiff often seeks injunction or writ of mandamus
  13. 13. Criminal Law • U.S. government charges someone with breaking a federal law • Government is always the prosecution • May involve crimes such as tax fraud, counterfeiting, selling narcotics, mail fraud, kidnapping, driving a stolen car across state lines
  14. 14. Constitutional Law • Relates to the meaning and application of the U.S. Constitution • Usually involves deciding limits of the government’s power and the rights of the individual • May deal with either civil or criminal law • If a lower court’s decision is appealed, the Supreme Court makes the final ruling
  15. 15. Legal System Principles • Equal Justice Under the Law • Goal of court system to treat everyone alike • Spelled out by 5th thru 8th Amendments • Due Process of Law • Means a law must be applied in a fair manner • The Adversary System • Lawyers do their best to represent their clients • The courtroom is like an arena
  16. 16. Legal System Principles • Presumption of Innocence • Person is presumed innocent until proven guilty • Burden of proving an accusation falls on prosecution • Unless prosecution succeeds in proving accusation, court must declare the defendant not guilty • Burden of proof: • Criminal case: beyond a reasonable doubt • Civil case: by a preponderance of the evidence

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