Gov: Judicial System

citizenship-test    Judicial Branch Pre-test


Government: Judicial System

Federal-vs-State     The United States judicial system has two systems of courts: federal courts and state courts.

State courts are the workhorses of the judicial system, handling several million cases a year. State court systems vary in structure, however, most states have four general levels of courts: trial courts of limited jurisdiction, trial courts of general jurisdiction, intermediate appellate courts, and courts of last resort.

Trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Local courts that specialize in relatively minor criminal offenses or civil disputes handle most of the cases filed each year. Their hearings are generally informal and do not involve jury trials. Cases heard in these courts may be appealed to trial courts.

Trial courts of general jurisdiction. General trial courts handle most serious criminal cases and major civil disputes. In rural areas, general trial court judges may have to travel within a large circuit to try cases. In urban areas, general trial court judges may specialize in criminal, family, juvenile, civil, or other types of cases.

Intermediate appellate courts. Intermediate courts of appeals hear appeals from general trial courts. Though the structure varies from state to state, most state appeals courts employ three-judge panels to hear and decide cases.

Courts of last resort. The name of the appeals court at the top of the state system varies from state to state. The most common name is state supreme court. Their jurisdiction includes all matters of state law. Once a state supreme court decides a case, the only avenue of appeal left is the U.S. Supreme Court. Such appeals are limited to cases that present a constitutional issue.

Congress has established special federal courts to deal with specific categories of cases. Staffing these courts are judges expert in a particular area, such as tax or trade law. These special courts include both lower and appeals courts. The United States has also set up military tribunals to try members of enemy forces. A military tribunal is a court in which officers from the armed forces serve as both judge and jury.

Ninety-four district courts occupy the lowest level in the federal judiciary. These ninety-four courts include 89 federal court districts throughout the country, with at least one district in each state. Each district court is a trial court with original jurisdiction in its region. District courts are where most cases in the federal system begin. District court cases are tried before a jury, unless a defendant waives that right.

Thirteen appellate courts occupy the second level of the federal judiciary. These midlevel courts are known as U.S. courts of appeals. Only a fraction of the cases decided in district courts are reviewed by appeals courts. Their primary job is to review district court cases to determine whether the district judge made an error in applying the law in that one trial. Sometimes their decisions have a broader application than the specific case before them.

The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in the federal judicial system. The Supreme Court has both original and appellate jurisdiction. However, only a handful of original jurisdiction cases are filed each term. Majority of the cases reaching the Supreme Court are appeals from cases that began in lower courts.

Government Homework:
1. Read Chapter 15.2 pp.282-285
2. Amendments Quiz II – close Wed 10/30
3. Constitution Unit Test – Fri 11/1



Honors Gov: Political Socialization

Social Science Analysis: Health Care Quiz

Online Quiz1     Good luck – Health Care Quiz I       Paw - Integrity_sm


Honors Gov: Political Socialization

Political Socialization     The formation of political beliefs and values begins early in life and continues throughout adulthood. This process is called political socialization. To socialize an individual means to teach that person to be a fit member of society. Political socialization involves learning about the values, beliefs, and processes that underlie a political system in order to participate in it effectively.

The process of political socialization is important because no democracy could survive if its citizens did not share some fundamental beliefs about how their government should operate. However, this process does not produce millions of people who think exactly alike. Political socialization involves all of the experiences that lead us to view political issues the way we do. And those experiences are never the same from one person to the next. There are many agents, or forces, play a part in political socialization. They include family, schools, peers, media, and church.

Honors Gov Homework:
1. Judicial Unit Test – Fri 11/1
2. SSA Health Care Paper – due Turnitin on Friday 11/8