Who was Clarence Darrow?
Very flamboyant, Scopes monkey trial.
Most famous trial: Two wealthy teen boys, wanted to see what it would be like to kill someone, lured a 10
year old boy into car, beat him to death, tried to cover the crime scene. Tracked one boys glasses back to
them, got a confession.
Argued for 12 hours for the boys’ lives.
Civil vs. Criminal Law
Civil laws are concerned with the definition, regulation, and enforcement of rights in noncriminal cases in
which both the person who has the right and the person who has the obligation are private individuals.
The burden of proof is a preponderance of the evidence (greater weight of the evidence) in civil cases, as
opposed to beyond a reasonable doubt. Unlike criminal cases, private parties must initiate civil cases.
A private wrong that causes often times physical harm to another
You’ve been harmed, want compensation.
Determine whether a defendant is guilty.
Decide the sentence for those who are guilty.
This is done within and according to a complex and ewerchanging network of laws, personnel, and political
Criticisms of Courts
Police – offenders are treated too leniently Corrections – lack of room for new inmates and severe sentences.
Public – unfathomable machine that fails to provide justice when lawbreakers are released on technicalities.
Legislators – unable to provide resources to handle huge case loads.
Offenders/victims – do not believe the court is dispensing justice in a fair manner.
Taking the Blame
Courts have no control over –
How they are financed
How many cases are sent
Available resources to carry out sentences
Dual Court Systems
The political division of jurisdiction into two separate systems of courts; federal and
state. In this system, federal courts have limited jurisdiction over state courts
Everyone manages cases in their own jurisdiction. Federal cannot just come in and overrule states. (Weed
State supreme court
Intermediate Appellate Court
Court of appeals. If appealed from there, goes to state supreme court.
Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
Most states have at least a threetiered system; trial, appellate and state supreme courts.
Colorado’s intermediate appellate court consists of 16 judges serving eightyear terms. The court sits in
threemember divisions to decide cases.
US Supreme Court
US Courts of Appeals
Federal District Courts
State Court Development—Early Court Systems
Massachusetts Bay Colony “General Court”
Pennsylvania Referee System
Original Jurisdiction vs. Appellate Jurisdiction
The authority of a given court over a specific geographic are or over particular types of cases. This is
referred to as “falling within the jurisdiction”.
Not always geographicalCertain courts have jurisdiction involving children, military, etc.
The lawful authority of a court to review a decision made by a lower court. State Court Systems Today
State Trial Courts
Lower Courts – Limited Jurisdiction Municipal / County Courts hearing relatively minor cases involving
misdemeanors, traffic, etc.
Trial Court – General Jurisdiction – District Courts having jurisdiction to hear any criminal case. May allow
defendants to have a Trial de Novo upon appeal from a lower court.
State Appellate Courts
Authority to review the proceedings and verdicts of general trial courts for judicial errors and other
Most states have an appellate division which is an intermediate appellate court or Court of Appeals and a
highlevel appellate court or state supreme court (court of last resort).
A request that a court with appellate jurisdiction review the judgment, decision, or order of a lower court and
set it aside or modify it.
Can appeal on any procedural violation, due process violation, basically process violation. Cannot just
appeal because youre innocent.
Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
State courts of original jurisdiction that are not courts of record, such as traffic courts, municipal courts, or
State Courts of General Jurisdiction
Also called general trial courts.
State courts of original jurisdiction that hear all kinds of criminal cases. Federal Court Systems
Highest court in the U.S. judiciary system. The court rules on the constitutionality of laws, due process
rights, and rules of evidence. The rulings are binding on all federal and state courts. Final say in the
interpretation of the Constitution.
US Courts of Appeal
US District Courts
The Federal Court System is the threetiered structure of federal courts, involving US District courts, US
courts of appeal, and the US Supreme Court.
U.S. Supreme Court cases that mark significant changes in the interpretation of the U.S. Constitution.
Virtually changes the way we do business within the CJ system.
Miranda Case, Terry v Ohio, etc.
Clearer guidance for system
The Supreme Court of the US
Chief Justice of the US:
Serve for life
President selects Supreme court justices, confirmed by senate, who can not confirm, doesn’t happen often.
The US Supreme Court