the District of Columbia b. U. S. courts of appeals i. Currently there are thirteen U. S. courts of appeals ii. Also referred to as “U. S. circuit courts of appeals” iii. Decisions of the circuit courts of appeals are final unless a further appeal is pursued and granted, then the matter is brought before the United States Supreme Court c. The United States Supreme Court i. Reviews a tiny percentage of the cases decided in the U.S. each year ii. Impact of the Court’s decisions on the criminal justice system is profound 182
1. Gideon v. Wainwright 2. Miranda v. Arizona 3. Furman v. Georgia 4. Gregg v. Georgia
iii. Makes criminal justice policy in two ways 1. Through judicial review 2. Through its authority to interpret statutory law iv. Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court 1. Consists of nine justices—a chief justice and eight associate justices 2. Court has original or trial jurisdiction only in rare instances 3. Rarely does a case originate at the Supreme Court level v. Which cases reach the Supreme Court? 1. Thousands of cases are filed with the Supreme Court each year; on average the Court hears fewer than one hundred 2. With a writ of certiorari, the Supreme Court orders a lower court to send it the record of a case for review 3. More than 90% of petitions for a writ of certiorari are denied a. The Court will not issue a writ unless at least four justices approve it (rule of four) b. Unless justices feel that the case addresses important federal law or constitutional issues, they will vote to deny the writ of certiorari vi. Supreme Court decisions 1. Normally does not hear any evidence 2. Decision is based on the written record of the case and the written arguments that the attorneys submit 3. Attorneys can also present oral arguments 4. Justices discuss the case in conference 5. When a decision has been reached, the chief justice assigns the task of writing the Court’s opinion to one of the justices a. Opinion outlines the reasons for the Court’s decision, the rules of law that apply, and the decision b. One or more of justices who agree with the opinion may do so for different reasons and they may write a concurring opinion and one or more of the justices who disagrees with the opinion may write a dissenting opinion. VI. Judges in the Court System a. The roles and responsibilities of trial judges i. Before the trial 1. Determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to issue an arrest or search warrant 2. Determine whether there is sufficient probable cause to authorize electronic surveillance of a suspect 3. Determine whether enough evidence exists to justify the temporary incarceration of a suspect 4. Determine whether a suspect should be released on bail, and if so, the amount of bail 5. Determine whether to accept pretrial motions by prosecutors and defense attorneys 6. Determine whether to accept a plea bargain 7. Judge often takes on the role of negotiator ii. During the trial 1. When the trial starts, the judge takes on the role of referee 180
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