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The U.S. Judicial System

Judicial branch

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  • 1. The U.S. Judicial System

2. Introductionto SystemsThe judicial system in theUnited States is actuallymade up of two differentcourt systems: the federalcourt system and thestate court systems.Each court system isresponsible for hearingcertain types of cases,however neither iscompletely independentof the other, and thesystems often interact. 3. The Structure of Federal Courts SystemsU.S.Supreme Court U.S. Courts Of AppealU.S. District Courts 4. U.S. District Courts There are 94 U.S. DistrictCourts in the United States.Every state has at least one district court, and some large states, such as California, have as many as four. Each districtcourt hasbetween 2 and28 judgesU.S. District Courts hear both civil and criminal cases, where the judgedetermines issues of law,while the jury determines findings of fact. 5. U.S. Courts Of AppealU.S. Courts Of AppealThere are 13 U.S. CourtsThese courts willWith the exception ofof Appeal in the Unitedexamine the trial recordcriminal cases in which aStates. These courts are for only mistakes of law, defendant is found notdivided into 12 regional i.e. the FACTS that have guilty, any party who iscourts and sit in various already been determined dissatisfied with thecities throughout the by the U.S. District Court.judgment of a U.S.country. When hearing Therefore, the courtDistrict Court may appeal cases, these courts usually will neither to the U.S. Court of usually sit in panels ofreview the facts of the Appeal in his/her three judges.case nor take anygeographical district.additional evidence. 6. U.S. Supreme CourtThe Supreme Court of the United Statessits at the apex of the federal court system. It is made up of nine judges,known as justices, and is presided over by the Chief Justice. Each year, the Court accepts between 100 and 150 of the some7,000 cases it is askedParties who are notto hear for argument. satisfied with theThe cases typically fit decision of a U.S. Courtwithin general criteriaof Appeal or a statefor oral arguments.supreme court can ask Four justices must the U.S. Supreme Courtagree to hear the case.to hear their case. The Court decides whetherto accept such cases. 7. The Structure of State Courts SystemsStateSupremeAppellate CourtsCourts Trial Courts 8. Trial Courts Trial Courts are the main trial courts in the statesystem. These involve both civil and criminal cases.One judge (often sitting with a jury) usually hearsthem. In such cases, the judge decides issues of LAW, whilethe jury decides issues of FACT (In other words, thejudge deals with the rules of law, while the jurydeals with evidence, witnesses, and lawyers todecide if the suspect is guilty or not). 9. Intermediate Appellate Courts Any party, who is not satisfied with the judgmentof a state Trial Court, may appeal the matter to anappropriate Appellate Court.Such appeals are usually aThese courts addressmatter of right (meaning theonly allegedMany, but not all, court must hear them). procedural mistakesstates have Appellateand errors of LAW Courts between themade by the Trial Trial Courts and theCourt. They willState Supreme Court. usually neither These courts usually review the FACTS ofsit in panels of two or the case, which have three judges.been establishedduring the trial, nor Appellateaccept additionalevidence.Courts 10. State Supreme Courts Like the AppellateAll states have some sort ofCourts, appeals takenstate supreme courts. In states usually allege a with Appellate Courts, the mistake of LAW and State Supreme Courts usually NOT FACT.have discretionary review as towhether to accept a case or not. In states without These courts often sitAppellate Courts, appeals may in panels of three,usually be taken to the State State Supremefive, seven, or nine Supreme Court as a matter of Courts judges/justices.right (meaning the court musthear them).In addition, many State Supreme Courts have original jurisdiction in certain matters. For example, the highest courts in several states have original jurisdiction overcontroversies regarding elections and the reapportionment of legislative districts. 11. Jurisdictions of Federal Courts Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction because they can hear only two main types of cases:1. Diversity of Citizenship: Federal courts can have jurisdiction over a case of a civil nature in which parties are residents of different states and the amount in question exceeds the amount that is set by federal law (currently $75,000). The federal courts are often required to apply state law when dealing with these cases since the issues concern matters of state law. The fact that the parties are from different states and that the amount in question is high enough is what manages to get such cases into federal court. 12. 2. Federal Questions:Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases that arise under the U.S. Bankruptcy Constitution, the laws of the United States, and the treaties made under the authority of the United States. These issues are the onlyadvantage of the federal courts and include:Patent,copyright,Suits andbetween trademarkstates: Casescases. in which two or more states are a party. Federal crimes: Crimes defined by or mentioned in the U.S. Constitution orthose defined and/or punished by federal law. Such crimes include treason against the United States, piracy, counterfeiting, and crimes against the law of nations. However, most crimes are state matters. 13. Jurisdictions of State CourtsThe jurisdiction of the state courts extends to basically any type of case that does not fall within theexclusive jurisdiction of the federal courts. State courts are common-law courts. This means thatthey not only have the authority to apply or interpret the law, but they often have the authority tocreate law if it does not yet exist to solve a specific legal problem. Examples of cases within thejurisdiction of the state courts include the following:State criminal offenses: Crimes defined and/or punishedCases involvingby the state constitution or Election issues:the state applicable state statute. Mostconstitution:crimes are state criminal offenses. The law They include offenses such as concerning voterCases involving themurder, theft, breaking and registration,interpretation of aentering, and destruction of voting in general,state constitution. legislativeproperty.reapportionment, etc. Contract law:Family: Agreements betweenThe body of law dealingtwo or more partieswith marriage, divorce,creating obligations adoption, child custody that are eitherand support, and enforceable ordomestic-relations otherwise recognizedissues. as law. 14. Joint Jurisdiction Between Federal & State CourtsFederal Question:Diversity of Citizenship:Any state court may interpretIn civil cases involving citizensthe U.S. Constitution, federalof two or more states in which statute, treaty, etc., if the the dollar amount in question applicable Constitutionalexceeds $75,000, a state courtprovision, statute, or treaty has may hear the case if the direct bearing on a casedefendant in the case does notbrought in state court under a ask to have the case removedstate law. However, byto federal court. Furthermore,interpreting the U.S.if a civil case involves two orConstitution, federal statute,more citizens of differentor treaty, the state is states but the amount insubjecting itself to federalquestion does not exceedreview. This means that after a$75,000, the case must be State Supreme Court has actedheard by a state court. on a case, the U.S. SupremeCourt may review it.