Judicial Branch:

The Federal Court System


Judicial Branch:. The Federal Court System. About our Courts. Dual Court System State Courts Deal with state and local issues Federal Courts Hear cases dealing with an array of different FEDERAL issues Confusing? People commit crimes that break both Federal and State laws - PowerPoint PPT Presentation

Transcript of Judicial Branch:

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The Federal Court System

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Dual Court System◦ State Courts

Deal with state and local issues

◦ Federal Courts Hear cases dealing with an array of different

FEDERAL issues

◦ Confusing? People commit crimes that break both Federal and State laws Rodney King Beating – Broke state and federal laws

Officers acquitted by the state – 2 were found guilty Federal

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District Courts – Lowest level on the triangle◦ 94 Scatter across the country◦ 80% of the federal caseload (300,000 a year)◦ 1st to hear most federal cases◦ Number of judges for each court◦ Runs like most courts you see on TV – judge, jury


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Cases they hear FIRST◦ Federal Crimes, Bankruptcy, Maritime disputes

and Civil suit between 2 or more people from separate states concerning $50,000.00 or more

PA – 3 District Regions◦ http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Pages/district.htm◦ http://www.paed.uscourts.gov/index.htm◦ http://www.pamd.uscourts.gov/default.htm

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13 Appellate Courts◦ 12 courts cover specific regions◦ 1 covers special issues

No jury, no witnesses and no evidence Panel of judges

◦ Make sure lower court proceedings were done correctly Reverse lower court Affirm lower court

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Washington D.C. Highest Court in the land Final court of appeals 2001 – 9176 cases were brought to S.C. – Only

88 were heard Cases of Original Jurisdiction – 1st to hear

◦ Treaties◦ People vs. State◦ US vs. State ◦ State or Federal law is unconstitutional◦ 2 states are in a dispute ◦ Foreign ambassadors or diplomats

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Federal Judges – District and Circuit Courts Justices – 9 total – Supreme Court

◦ $190,000 - $200,000 a year

No specific qualifications – age, or schooling◦ Usually former federal judges

President appoints all of the judges and justices ◦ Approved by the Senate

Serve for LIFE!

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Civil Court◦ Settle

Disagreements Divorce Broken Contracts Property Damage

◦ Result = Money◦ Players

Plaintiff – brings a complaint forward


Criminal Courts◦ Decide whether a

law was broken◦ Result = Fine,

prison, probation, community service

◦ Players Prosecution – brings

forth the criminal charges “The people”


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Get your case to the Supreme Court◦ Appeal it from lower courts◦ Original Jurisdiction cases

State vs. Citizen US vs. State

◦ Usually only hear cases that involve controversial issues

Decisions◦ Let lower court decision stand◦ Writ of Cert

Court decides to hear the case

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Study Briefs◦ 100’s of pages – document evidence, testimony

and lower court rulings Hear arguments

◦ 2 Lawyers – one representing each side◦ 30 minutes – Plead your case

Discuss case in private Take a vote – privately Release their rulings to the public

◦ Opinions

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Majority Opinion◦ Winning opinion

Concurring Opinion◦ Agreed with the majority but for other reasons

Dissenting Opinion◦ Losing Opinion

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Precedents – influence the lower court rulings◦ A Supreme Court ruling is as powerful as a law

Judicial Review – Ability to rule on whether laws – state or federal – and other actions by government officials are constitutional

◦ they have defined what free speech means and what our other rights “really” are

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Debate◦ Judicial Restraint – laws are to be created by

Congress and the president, not the Supreme Court Roe v Wade – No federal law allowing abortion but we

know the highest court said it was a women’s right◦ Judicial Activism – Take active role in policy

making through the courts So what should the courts do???

◦ Be Active or let Congress and the President decide◦ Same sex marriage◦ What is torture?

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Flag Burning Student Rights

◦ Free speech and expression Civil Rights

◦ Segregation – School, and public transportation Soon

◦ Hand guns◦ Death penalty

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Often cases that go to the Supreme Court are issues that involve people claiming they both had rights◦ Drive in showing nudity and the neighbor that

complained◦ Young girl under the age 18 raped and killed –

news station releases name

◦ The human cannonball and the news station

◦ The newspaper that was sued for not offering equal coverage for candidates

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Why did your case go to the Supreme Court?◦ Which case did the Supreme Court have original

jurisdiction over?

Are these cases criminal or civil court cases◦ Remedy

Who is the plaintiff in each case?

Can a case be won by the plaintiff in a district court, lost in the appellate court and then won in the Supreme Court?

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Edwards v Aguillard - 1987◦ Louisiana - Balanced Treatment = Evolution +

Creation in the classroom◦ Establishment Clause of the 1st Amendment –

Government cannot advance or deny religious beliefs

◦ Lower Courts – Louisiana was promoting religion◦ Supreme Court – 7/2 promoted religious

indoctrination Dissenting – Students will not become religious…

They should have the opportunity to learn all sides

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Kitzmiller v Dover Area S.D. – 2005◦ Did they forget the Edwards case???◦ No, they just changed the wording

Edwards – Creation Dover – Inteligent Design

◦ District Court – Middle District of PA http://www.pawd.uscourts.gov/Pages/district.htm

◦ Parents sued the School – School Board had required religion be part of curriculum

◦ Teachers refused ◦ School board members in favor were NOT re-elected◦ Ruled in favor of the parents

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How much control do students have over the school newspaper?

Pregnant students story is removed and a story about students who had divorced parents

Students get mad Rulings

◦ http://www.landmarkcases.org/hazelwood/diagram.html

Supreme Court rules in favor of the school◦ Dissenting – newspaper is a forum for expression

St. Louis paper runs story for the kids

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Oregon passes Death with Dignity Act◦ Physician assisted suicide

Terminal illness – 6 months Another doctor confirms illness Mental evaluation 2 witnesses Wait 15 days and request again

Control Substance Act 1970◦ Federal government has authority over drugs –

both legal and illegal◦ Federal government can regulate the way doctors

prescribe drugs

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Government did not try to make this a moral issue

Argued that the use of the specific drugs by physicians was not a valid

Lower Courts ruled in favor of Oregon

Supreme Court◦ The drugs they wanted to use were legal ◦ It is not the federal government’s place to decide

what states want to do with them!

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