The questions are fair. For students who blast through the class without absorbing many ideas, they will be quite challenging. However, if you have studied the material for a reasonable amount of time, you should be able to do just fine on the quizzes and exam. We recommend taking notes on the key ideas presented in each module. Students vary in how much they write down, but a half a page of notes per module would generate a 25-page outline when it comes time to study for the final exam, which seems about right. NEXT: In module 2, we take a look at a few more background ideas, this time related to court systems.
9/25/2018 Print canvas 6/216 Module 2: Court Systems There are thousands of courts large and small in the United States. This module takes a look at how they all fit together. In our legal system, we live under two distinct, and essentially separate, sovereign types of government— the state governments and the federal, or national, government. Each passes many laws that impact large numbers of people. The federal government might pass a law banning a specific type of discrimination in workplaces nationwide. A state’s government might criminalize a synthetic form of marijuana that is a bestseller in vapor shops. The federal government might raise or lower your income taxes, and your state’s government might restrict certain types of medical procedures within its borders. In addition to passing laws, both the one federal and many state governments maintain court systems. Each state, like Texas, California, and Florida, maintains its own system of courts. In addition, the national government maintains its own system of courts. We look at both types of systems below. State Courts Although court systems vary somewhat from state to state, most state courts fall into three general categories. From lowest to highest, they are (1) courts of limited jurisdiction, (2) general trial courts, and (3) appellate courts. 1. Very low level state courts: Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Every state has trial courts that are limited as to the kinds of cases they can hear and are called courts of limited jurisdiction , which means that they have limited authority and can hear only certain specific types of cases. Examples include justice of the peace courts, municipal courts, traffic courts, and domestic relations courts (handling divorce, custody, and child support cases). Because there are so many of them, these courts hear most cases that come to trial. 2. Low level state courts: General Trial Courts The most important cases involving state law, and the ones we will be most concerned with hereafter, commence in the general trial courts . These are courts of “general jurisdiction”; they are empowered to hear all cases except those expressly assigned by statute to the courts of limited jurisdiction. Virtually all important cases involving contract law, criminal law, and corporation law, for example, originate in the general trial courts. In most states these courts are called either district courts or superior courts . Whatever the specific name, one or more such courts normally exist in every county of every state.
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- Spring '08
- Common Law, Supreme Court of the United States, Appellate court, Trial court, State court