Pols 255- Section 2 Outline 1

Pols 255- Section 2 Outline 1 - POLS 255-002: The Politics...

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POLS 255-002: The Politics of Crime and Justice Supplement for Courts, Judges, and the Administration of Justice I. The Dual Court System The judicial system in the United States is called a dual court system because it is based on the principle of federalism: One set of federal courts and 50 state courts. II. The State Courts: A. Trial Courts (District and Superior Courts): 1. These are “courts of original jurisdiction.” “Limited” jurisdiction (municipal courts, police, justice of the peace, juvenile, magistrates, etc. that cover municipal, county, and state jurisdictions….there are 14,000 of them in the U.S.- none in MA) “General” jurisdiction (these are called “district” or “superior” courts and deal with criminal, civil, and probate issues….they are called “superior” in CT, MA, and RI….there are a total of 2,600 of them in the U.S.) Unlike federal courts which deal mainly with drug offenses and white collar crimes, these types of courts deal mainly with street crimes. 2. This means that these courts have the authority to hear or act upon a case from its beginning to its end. 3. These courts try the facts. 4. There are judges and juries (unless the defendant waives his/her right to a jury) at this level. Judges render decisions . A decision is made when a judge ascertains the facts of the case and measures them up against existing law (facts + law = decision). B. Courts of Appeals: 1. The loser of a dispute at the lower level may appeal . Prosecutors cannot appeal “not guilty” verdicts. Criminal appeals are rarely successful. Only 1 out of 16 succeeds. Moreover, out of those that do succeed, half of the defendants are convicted a second time (remember Miranda ). One study (of appeals in Louisiana) also showed that defendants who were convicted of nonviolent offenses and received lenient sentences were more likely to win on an appeal than those convicted of violent offenses and sentenced to lengthy prison terms. 2. That loser will argue that a mistake was made in how the judge applied the law. For instance, one may argue that he/she did not have his/her rights read to him/her during an arrest. One may argue that the evidence admitted at the trial was not obtained by a reasonable search and seizure. 3. No new facts should arise at this level. POLS 255-002 (Spring 2008) Supplement to Outline on Courts for March 4 1
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4. The judges at this level determine whether the law was applied properly at the lower level. 5. There are no juries at this level. 6. Judges at this level usually sit in panels of three. Connecticut has a total of 9 appellate judges. 7. They hear oral arguments and then provide written opinions . 8.
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Pols 255- Section 2 Outline 1 - POLS 255-002: The Politics...

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