gov test4 - GOV NOV 11 The Courts How the Judicial System...

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GOV – NOV 11 The Courts – How the Judicial System is Organized, How Justices are Chosen, What they consider their jobs to be, etc. History of Judicial System Articles of Confederation: didn't really have a national judicial system. Constitution changed this, but only set up a small part of the federal court system and left it to Congress to set up the rest. Some framers thought that the court system should be large and broad, others thought it should be small, so compromise was to set up a small one and leave it to Congress to expand it. Organization of Courts in the US Civil vs. Criminal Courts Basic Court Structures (each state has its own court system, but share a basic structure): o State trial courts are lowest level – everything starts out here, be it a speeding ticket or a murder. If those decisions are appealed, it goes to a State Intermediate Appellate Court of Appeals, and then a State Court of Last Resort. o Each state has a civil code, which regulates conduct between citizens (like if you get into a fender bender with someone, you owe them some compensation); and a criminal code, which governs conduct between a person and society. So if you commit a crime like a speeding ticket or a robbery, the case isn't an individual against you, it's the state against you in court. In the criminal code, it's the state pursuing recourse against you for a violation of state law, whereas in civil code it's another citizen seeking recourse against you for an individual wrong. Politics and the Courts: State vs. Federal o State courts are pretty politicized – judges run for “office” as a judge. Ordinary citizens usually don't care or pay attention, but interest groups sometimes come in and try to get someone thrown out of office or influence it. Example: In Iowa, judges run for reappointment – have to get 50% of the people to say yes, they should stay in office (don't have to run against someone else) Usually they get reappointed. But in Iowa the courts issued a few pro-gay rights decisions, and several out of state interest groups decided to get involved, and they actually got three supreme court justices thrown out., Federal Courts: all judges are appointed for lifetime service. o Federal courts start off with US District Courts, then up to US Courts of Appeals, then up to the US Supreme Court (Sup. Ct. doesn't have to take cases, by the way – if a case gets appealed to them, the vast majority of the time they say they won't hear the case. Not so in state courts and lower federal courts – those judges usually have to hear appeals cases). o Circuit Courts – the US is divided into circuits, federal courts where lower court cases can get appealed to. Supreme Court justices often held judge position in one of these courts first.
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o Federal courts different from state courts in that all judges are appointed for life. State judge positions often very politicized, with candidates having to raise
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gov test4 - GOV NOV 11 The Courts How the Judicial System...

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