- Slides: 9
The Judicial Branch THE FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM LESSON 2
The Lower Courts
District Courts/Trial Courts • District Courts are the lowest level of the federal system (94 & at least 1 in every state) • Original Jurisdiction - authority to hear cases for the first time • take both criminal and civil cases. • Criminal = innocent/guilty based on evidence presented • Civil – at fault or not • witnesses testify and a jury hears the case and reaches a verdict.
The Role of the Jury • The jury listens to the evidence during a trial, decides what facts the evidence has established, and draws inferences from those facts to form the basis for their decision. • The jury decides whether a defendant is "guilty" or "not guilty" in criminal cases, and "liable" or "not liable" in civil cases. What if there were no such thing as jury trials? What would the justice system look like in the United States?
Circuit Courts of Appeals • Also called appellate courts • They do not decide on the guilt or innocence of a person in a criminal case nor which party should win a lawsuit. • They have Appellate Jurisdiction or the authority to review the fairness of a case appealed from the lower court. • Cases may be appealed if the lawyers feel the district court judge made a mistake (based on how the law was applied by the judge) • Congress created 12 United States courts of appeals in 1982
Rulings • Appellate courts do not hold trials, 3 or more judges who review the record of the case from the trial court. • Listen to a brief argument made by lawyers for both sides • The decision is then made by majority vote. • The Judges decision is known as a ruling Types of Rulings: 1. Judges can uphold the result of the trial, which leaves the verdict in that trial unchanged. 2. Judges can reverse the result of a trial. 3. Judges can remand the case. This means sending the case back to the lower court to be tried again (only if they think the original trial was not right in some way)
Federal Judges • The chief decision makers in the Judicial branch • They are the final authority in the Federal Courts • There are more than 650 district court judges • There are 6 -28 appeal court judges. • The Supreme Court has nine judges also known as Justices
Appointing Federal Judges • president appoints all federal judges • Appointees must be approved by the Senate • No qualifications required by the Constitution • Once appointed federal Judges have their jobs for life (can be impeached)
Other Court Officials • Clerks, secretaries, court reporters, and other workers help judges carry out their duties