Chapter 5 Dual Court System

The United States Judicial System

  • Federal Court Systems
    • Under Article III of the constitution, the judicial branch was given the authority to hear cases based on Jurisdiction
    • Jursidiction-power and authority given to a specific court to hear a case and make proper judgement.
    • Federal Courts have Jursidiction over:
      1. cases in which the US or state is a party (except between a state and its own citizens)
      2. cases that question the interpretation of the constitution or federal law itself Diversity of Citizenship cases; actions between citizens of different states in excess of $50,000
      3. cases regarding the seas, patent-rights, copyrights, and bankruptcy
    • 3 Tiers of the Federal Court System:
      1. US District Courts
        • Have Original Jursidiction– to hear federal cases for the first time
        • Considered the Trial Courts for criminal and civil actions in the federal system
        • There is at least One District Court in each state which based on the population size of the state. Total of 95 District Courts
      2. US States Court of Appeals “Intermediate Courts”
        • Has Appellate Jurisdiction in the federal court system-it hears cases on appeal from the US District Courts
        • Federal Appellate Circuit Court System divided into 13 Circuit Courts that are arranged geographically throughout the US. Each Circuit has one Circuit Court of Appeals and several District Courts.
      3. US Supreme Court “Highest Court in the Land”
        • US Supreme Court has both Appellate and Original Jurisdiction in hearing cases.
        • Its Original Jurisdiction deals primarily with cases involving Ambassadors, public officials, and cases which involve a state
        • Its Appellate Jurisdiction is its main function, hearing cases that question the Constitutionality of the Law
    • Structure of the State Court Systems:
      1. Local Trial Courts
        • Limited Jurisdiction Court- have the authority to only hear minor cases, misdemeanor and civil actions involving small amounts of money
          • purpose is to settle petty offenses (traffic, police, municiple)
      2. General Trial Courts
        • General Jurisdiction Court- jurisdiction over all cases involving major crimes, felonies, and crimes involving large amounts of money. Typically known as county courts. Riverhead Criminal Court Building hears these cases of general jurisdiction
      3. Special Courts
        • Courts specially designed to hear cases such as family or domestic relations, property, law, juvenile court issues
        • jurisdiction for these courts are limited to the courts specialization
      4. Intermediate Appellate Courts and 5. State Supreme Courts
        • New York States highest court
        • Final ruling
        • generally have appellate jurisdiction from the states lower court system only, although special cases must be heard for the first time in Appellate Courts
        • Appellate court only review cases in which the law is in question, not the facts of the case itself
        • Appellate judges only hear oral arguments from attorneys in cases in which there is evidence that a judge or jury has been prejudiced in some way

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