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Unformatted text preview: The Judiciary Litigious society Court cases to determine rights civil rights and affirmative action Types civil cases criminal cases Civil Law Civil cases individual rights responsibility; not guilt plaintiff and defendant are private parties initiated through use of petition preponderance of evidence side with best evidence wins suit Court remedy is compensation Based on English commonlaw judgemade law based on precedents Statutory law laws passed by legislative bodies written in code books (codified) include many commonlaw principles Types of cases: personal injury child custody breach of contract labor disputes Family law areas protected by civil law in Texas commonlaw marriage children born are legitimate need divorce Community property state divorce divide property alimony child support Custody visitation Homestead property bankruptcy unprotected tax liens home improvement loans mortgage loans home equity loans Protected home and 200 acres of land in rural areas home and 1 acre in city cemetery lots $30,000 personal property (includes 2 means of travel) Criminal Law Criminal cases crime against the public involves violation of penal code punishment fines imprisonment Concepts of behavior and morality as defined by law enter plea of guilty or not guilty Case initiated by government prosecutor on behalf of public Charges spelled out in grand jury indictment Strict rules of procedure to evaluate evidence Proof is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt Determination of guilt renders punishment Distinction between two types of cases is burden of proof Civil cases preponderance of evidence whichever party has more evidence or proof Criminal cases: burden of proof falls on prosecution must prove that defendant is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" evidence must be substantial to point to defendant's guilt Jurisdiction Original jurisdiction court initiating trial Appellate jurisdiction where trial can be appealed Concerns where cases should be heard Original jurisdiction try case being heard for the first time involves legal rules of procedure witnesses material evidence determination of guilt or responsibility Process Trial, verdict, or judgement judge oversees procedure jury evaluate evidence trial determination of fact and the application of law Appellate jurisdiction reviews the decisions of a lower court not a new trial review of application of law in original trial reversal does not mean innocent means that legal process was improper Person can be tried again not double jeopardy person waives that right when agreeing to an appeal Some cases can be both criminal and civil criminal for breaking the law civil for seeking damages Court Organization in Texas Numerous levels Complicated system Some overlapping of jurisdictions Local Trial Courts Municipal Courts (cities) Criminal misdemeanors with fines less than $500; no jail sentence Traffic violations Municipal ordinance** violations (Fines up to $2000) Some civil penalties for cases (dangerous dogs) Justice of the Peace Courts (counties) Civil actions under $5000 Small claims Criminal misdemeanors with fines less than $500 Established by county commissioners "people's court" County Trial Courts Constitutional County Courts Original jurisdiction in civil actions between $200 and $5000 Exclusive original jurisdiction over criminal misdemeanors (fines greater than $500 or jail sentence) Judges are elected Administrative responsibilities county commissioners' court governing body for Texas counties not a judicial entity not much time to handle judicial matters County Courts at Law Limited jurisdiction over civil matters, most under $100,000 Limited jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal matters Considered to be supplemental courts Have either civil or criminal** jurisdiction Probate Courts (State) Limited primarily to probate matters Property rights protected through will Intestate (no will) courts determine who inherits relatives if no relative, passes to state District Courts Original jurisdiction for civil actions over $200 divorce title to land contested elections contested probate matters Original jurisdiction for felony criminal matters Juvenile matters Some District Courts are named Criminal District Courts Considered to be Chief trial court of the state Some have concurrent powers with specified county courts Judges are elected 4 year terms Extremely heavy caseloads plea bargains (criminal cases) reduction in the sentence saves time and money raises questions of equity and justice Settlements (civil cases) negotiated between parties faster due to long time lag for trial State Intermediate Appellate Court of Appeals Intermediate appeals from trial courts 14 courts for civil and criminal cases Small number of cases appealed Judges elected for 6 year terms State Highest Appellate Court of Criminal Appeals Final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases Most cases decided in intermediate appellate court Court of Criminal Appeals presiding judge and 8 judges render deciding opinion Judges elected in for 6 years Strict qualifications Jurisdiction over automatic appeal in death penalty cases Texas Supreme Court Final appellate jurisdiction civil cases juvenile cases Power to make rules for the administration of justice civil practice and procedure licensing members of state bar Conduct proceedings for involuntary retirement or removal of judges Judges elected Strict qualifications Plays a policy making role for the state Politics of Judicial Selection
Texas Judges are elected not appointed in Texas "Texas has the best judges money can buy" Party identification: appellate judges make policy decisions party affiliation ideology Issues: campaign spending dramatically increased for judges 1998 6 seats $10 million raises questions about judges for sale may affect case decisions possible impropriety or bias Decisions of judiciary favor big business and professional groups medical association Texas Trial Lawyers Association oil and gas Reform measures campaign funding committee formed by Lt. Governor no clear acceptable alternative to all groups Chief Justice currently calling for reform ...
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This note was uploaded on 03/27/2012 for the course POLS 2306 taught by Professor Bezdek during the Spring '08 term at Texas A&M University, Corpus Christi.
- Spring '08
- Civil Rights