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Critical Thinking Questions Journals

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Often times people who are found guilty, are usually retried for the same crime by being granted an appeal. Although, if a person is found not guilty they cannot be tried again for that crime (5th Amendment) Is this fair? Why do you think the court system is set up in this manner?

Which of the following court cases would most likely be heard in a civil court?
a. b. c.


A speeding ticket for going 45 in a 35 A person stealing a tv from a local vendor An employee being wrongly removed from his/her job A person committing arson on a building in town

Lower Federal Courts
Unit 6

Constitutional Courts

Those courts established by Article III of the constitution
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Federal District Courts Federal Court of Appeals US Court of International Trade

Federal District Courts

Originally drawn with state boundaries Today every state has at least 1 Federal Court, some have more . . .

California, New York, and Texas have 4

Federal District Courts

District Courts are both criminal and civil
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Criminal cases: murder, felonies, etc. Civil cases: One person sues another – money is involved
Grand Jury – 16-23 people: These people decide if there is sufficient evidence against a person to suspect them of a crime.
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Two Types of Juries

If Yes: indictment – formally charging someone with a crime If No: the charges are dropped 6 to 12 people: listen to a trial and decide if a person is guilty of a crime or not
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Petit Jury

Criminal: Civil:

unanimous decision to determine guilty or not guilty majority decision to determine guilt

Critical Thinking Journal

Is it fair that someone can be found not guilty in criminal court, however liable in civil court?

Officers of the Court

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US Attorney – prosecutes the crime US Magistrate – issues warrants US Marshal – making arrests and securing jurors Clerks – paper work Bailiffs – order in the courtroom Stenographer – types out what is being said in the trial

Federal Court of Appeals

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If you lose a district case you can appeal your case to the court of appeals Each appeals court has 3 judges Judges go over the appeal and can rule in 1 of 3 ways:
1. 2.


Uphold the original decision Reverse the original decision Send the case to be tried again in lower courts

Court of International Trade

Hears cases that deal with tariffs

What is a tariff?

Legislative Courts

Courts created by congress to help itself exercise its powers

Legislative Courts

United States Claims Court

Anytime a person sues the government it is heard in this court Hears cases that dispute the IRS or treasury department (ex. Being unfairly taxed) Hears cases that are appealed from the military courts

United States Tax Court

Court of Military Appeals

Legislative Courts

Territorial Courts

Handle Civil, Criminal, and Constitutional cases within the territories of the US (ex. Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands, and Puerto Rico)
DC is not a state, so it is governed by Congress, and this court handles criminal and civil cases in DC Hears civil cases that deal with Veteran claims and veteran problems

Courts of the District of Columbia

Court of Veterans’ Appeals

Selection of Federal Judges

Article 2, Section 2, of the Constitution

Federal Judges are selected by the President Approved by the Senate

Judges are appointed for life

Critical Thinking Journal

Hypothesize (make guesses) as to why judges would be appointed for life? Do you think this is right?

Selection of Federal Judges

Party Affiliation

Presidents typically appoint judges who share the same political party as themselves
Gerald Ford: 81%  Ronald Reagan: 99%

When the same party is in control of the congress and Presidency the judicial system expands
Congress creates new positions  President appoints new judges

Selection of Federal Judges

Judicial Philosophy

Presidents appoints judges who feel strongly on the same political issues as they do.

(ex. Abe Lincoln on the emancipation of slaves)

Selection of Federal Judges

Senatorial Courtesy

Before naming Federal Trial courts within specific states, the President will present the names to the 2 senators from that state. If either of the 2 senators do not like the nomination, the President will usually choose a different person. Once a different person is approved, it is then given to all of the Senate for approval

Selection of Federal Judges

Background of Federal Judges

Most have had legal training
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Law school professors Congress members Attorneys State Court Judges (1/3rd of all appoints) Lyndon Johnson appointed Thurgood Marshall to the supreme court – first African American Ronald Reagan appointed Sandra Day O’Connor to the supreme court – first female

Very few women and minorities