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Courts and Adjudication notes

Courts and Adjudication notes - COURTS AND ADJUDICATION In...

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COURTS AND ADJUDICATION In America we have a dual court system, which includes the state and federal courts. Both have trial and appellate courts. American courts are strikingly decentralized. Except for a few states with centralized court systems, courts operate under the state penal code, but are staffed and funded by county or city government. This leads to political influence and community values shaping courts and their decisions. Federal Courts There are 94 District Courts: trial courts where cases are first filed and heard. There are 12 U.S. Courts of Appeals, 11 with jurisdiction over a geographic area and one for the District of Columbia, which hears cases involving federal agencies. The U.S. Supreme Court has original (trial) jurisdiction over only a few kinds of cases (e.g., lawsuits between states). Nine justices have great discretion to decide which cases they will hear that arrive from lower federal and state courts. Federal judges and U.S. Supreme Court justices are appointed to the bench by the president and are confirmed by the Senate to serve life terms. District courts are federal courts. State Courts Their basic structure reflects inheritance from English roots; in the United States, efforts were made to make sure courts were responsive to the local community, so legislatures created court systems that were decentralized, linked to local political systems, and dependent for resources on the non-judicial branches of government (recall our earlier discussions concerning Federalism ). Growth of commerce and population in the 19 th century generated new types of disputes requiring judicial attention. States and localities responded to these developments by creating courts with particular legal or geographical jurisdiction: small claims, juvenile, family, and other kinds of courts. They also created a rather confusing structure of multiple courts with varying jurisdictions, overlapping responsibilities, and intercounty differences. States courts are organized into four tiers: 1. Trial courts of limited jurisdiction : limited to hearing formal charges against accused persons, holding preliminary hearings, and perhaps trials for minor offenses. 2. Trial courts of general jurisdiction : trials in all cases, criminal and civil. Often referred to as felony courts. 3. The third tier is Appellate courts : Hears appeals from the lower courts. Intermediate appellate courts often lack discretion to decline to hear cases and
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usually sit in panels of three judges. Remember: The Appellate courts do not hear trials—they review what happened in a lower court to ensure Constitutional compliance. 4. The fourth tier is the State Supreme Courts (also known as courts of last resort) often have significant discretion to choose which cases they want to hear.
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