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Federal Courts (8.1&2)


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Overview of the Federal Court System For use with Sections 8.1&8.2

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Federal Courts (8.1&2)

  1. 1. For Use with Chapter 8.1 & 8.2
  2. 2.  Role of the Courts  courts use the law to settle civil disputes  to help ensure that equal opportunities are available to all people  courts use the law to decide the guilt or innocence of people accused of crimes
  3. 3.  What Happens  both sides come to the court and present their position  the court applies the law to the facts that have been presented and makes a decision in favor of one or the other Overview of a Criminal Trial  each side presents witnesses  witnesses present evidence  a jury or judge delivers the verdict
  4. 4.  Equal Treatment  “Justice is Blind”  the goal of the legal system is to treat every person the same regardless of who they are  every person has the right to have a public trial with a lawyer  the accused who cannot afford their own lawyer will have one appointed  defendants are innocent until proven guilty
  5. 5.  Equal Treatment is Difficult to Achieve  Although “Justice is Blind” the people involved in the justice system are not  judges and juries are not free from personal prejudices  wealth determines the quality of lawyer a defendant can afford
  6. 6.  “The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”  US Constitution, Article III, section 1
  7. 7.  Judiciary Act of 1789  created federal district courts and circuit courts Judiciary Act of 1891  Congress establishes the system of federal appeals courts
  8. 8.  Jurisdiction 1. The Constitution  a person who believes a Constitutional Right has been violated can be heard in federal court 2. Federal Laws  people accused of federal crimes are tired in federal courts  also civil cases involving federal laws 3. Disputes Between States  disputes between two state governments  Supreme Court has original jurisdiction 4. Citizens from Different States  two people from different states have a lawsuit
  9. 9.  Jurisdiction 5. The Federal Government  if the federal government is part of a lawsuit  if the federal government takes a person or company to court 6. Foreign Governments, Ambassadors, and Treaties  Supreme Court has original jurisdiction 7. Admiralty and Maritime Laws  any crimes or incidents that take place on the high seas / international waters involving a US vessel 8. US Diplomats
  10. 10.  Types of Jurisdiction 1. Exclusive Jurisdiction  only the federal courts may hear the case 2. Concurrent Jurisdiction  the case can take place in either the state or the federal
  11. 11.  US Courts of Appeals  also called federal appeals courts, circuit courts of appeals, circuit courts, appellate courts  have appellate jurisdiction  do NOT conduct trials  each has from 6 to 28 judges (based on how busy it historically has been)  review procedure from a case in federal district court  may review actions of federal regulatory agencies
  12. 12.  Organization of US Courts of Appeals  there are a total of 13 federal appeals courts  12 circuit courts that hear appeals from their geographic area (or circuit)  1 Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit located in Washington, DC that hears special cases that cover the entire nation
  13. 13.  Decisions of the US Courts of Appeals  the goal is to make sure that a defendant received a fair trial  after reviewing the procedure of a case appealed to it, appeals courts may: a) uphold the lower court’s decision b) reverse the lower court’s decision c) remand the case back to the district court (often times with changes that need to be made)
  14. 14.  Decisions of the US Courts of Appeals  opinion is the official decision of the appeals court  it sets out how the court feels about the way the lower court handled the case  any rulings it makes in the opinion becomes precedent
  15. 15.  Precedent  the Supreme Court and appellate courts can not seek out an issue and have both sides bring it to court, it must wait for people themselves to take someone to court over the issue  precedents are not new laws but help clarify existing laws Common Law  decisions from higher courts must be followed by lower courts  an opinion by the Supreme Court must be followed by everyone
  16. 16.  US District Courts  federal trial courts  federal lawsuits begin here  have original jurisdiction  there are 94 US District Courts  conduct trials complete with witnesses and evidence, and a jury that gives a verdict  every state has at least one federal district court
  17. 17.  Federal Judges  president appoints, Senate approves  typically, the president chooses someone with the same ideas about politics, justice and issues  Life Tenure: federal judges may have their job for life, unless removed by the impeachment/removal process  the goal have life tenure is to put judges above politics, instead of having to please voters with their ideas they can best serve the Constitution
  18. 18.  Magistrates  issue search and arrest warrants  hear preliminary evidence to determine if a case should be brought to trial  determine bail  may hear minor cases
  19. 19.  US Attorneys  a lawyer for the US government  they have at least one deputy  prosecute criminals  represents the US government in lawsuits  (appointed to 4-year term by the president with Senate approval)
  20. 20.  US Marshals  federal police officer  make arrests  collect fines  escort convicts to prison  protect jurors  keep order in federal courts  serve legal papers (such as subpoenas)
  21. 21. The US Supreme Court 1 Court ofAppeals for 12 USthe Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals 94 US District Courts
  22. 22. The US Supreme Court 1 Court ofAppeals for 12 USthe Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals 94 US District Courts
  23. 23.  Original Jurisdiction  Conducts trials  Witnesses testify  Evidence is presented  Juries hear cases and reach verdicts 94 US District Courts
  24. 24. 12 US Courts of Appeals94 US District Courts
  25. 25.  Appellate Jurisdiction  Can review a case if an individual who loses a case in district court believes the laws were applied unfairly  Does not determine guilt or innocence 12 US Courts of Appeals  Writes opinions detailing the reasons for their decision – establishes precedent  Three options: 1. Uphold the district court’s decision 2. Reverse the district court’s decision 3. Remand the case
  26. 26. The US Supreme Court 1 Court ofAppeals for 12 USthe Federal Circuit Courts of Appeals 94 US District Courts
  27. 27. 1 Court of  National JurisdictionAppeals forthe Federal  Can hear special cases of Circuit national importance