HGov: Jury Duty

jurystamp_000 One of the few obligations you have as a citizen is jury duty. An obligation is a direct duty you have with the government, like paying taxes. Jury duty is not only an obligation. It is a privilege and a right. It is easy to forget how important the jury really is. The right to be a juror is one of the fundamental rights guaranteed to all citizens. The right to trial by jury helped spark the American Revolution and was quickly adopted at the Constitutional Convention. It is the only right that appears in both the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. But for most, a jury summons is an unwelcome inconvenience. There is no more vital work a citizen can perform in the exercise of self-government than honest and conscientious jury duty. Service as a juror is as important as that of the judge and a trial juror should take great personal satisfaction in the fact that an important service has been rendered.

Jury Service



Casey Anthony Jury Selection


Potential Casey Anthony Juror Found in Contempt


Casey Anthony Defense Objects To Jury Selection Process


Instructions to Casey Anthony Jurors


Casey Anthony Trial Opening


Casey Anthony Trial Spectator Found in Contempt


HGov: Judicial System Structure


Today we began our study of the judicial branch. The United States judicial system has two systems of courts: federal courts and state courts. The 50 state court systems derive from state constitutions and laws. The federal system consists of federal district courts, where most federal cases begin. Above them are the federal courts of appeals, which review cases appealed from the lower courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is the nation’s highest court. Each state has its own court system. In this dual-court system, state courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state law. Federal courts have jurisdiction in cases that involve U.S. laws, treaties with foreign nations, interpretations of the Constitution, bankruptcy, and maritime laws. The federal courts also hear cases if the parties involved are ambassadors, state governments, the federal government, or citizens of different states.  Federal and state courts have concurrent jurisdiction in some civil cases.

Econ: Earn a Living Activity

Earning a Living

We participated in a simulation called Earning a Living. The activity helps us understand the relationship among households and business firms. In the simulation, households sell to business the resources it must have to produce a product. Households use the income they earned from selling resources to buy from business the goods and services their households requires. These goods and services are called ECONOS. You can satisfy all your household needs and desires by purchasing ECONOS, which are the products produced by business. Business firms supply to households the goods and services they desire, and to earn a profit in the process.

The activity helps us understand the relationship among consumers and producers. The economic relationship between households and businesses in often said to create a circular flow of economic activity. In a market economy, households are the owners of of resources and supply land, labor, and capital to businesses in exchange for income in the form of wages, rents, interest, and profits. Households then use their income to purchase finished goods and services supplied by businesses. Businesses then use the money from sales to pay resource owners for the services businesses receive by employing the resources. This relationship forms an interdependent economic system. The circular flow helps to explain and prove the assumption that voluntary trade creates wealth. It also shows how trade is influenced by the economic system in which people participate.

Circular Flow Earnig a Living

HGov: Judicial System


The president appoints all federal judges, including Supreme Court justices, who then must be approved by the Senate. Judges who are appointed to the district courts, the courts of appeals, and the Supreme Court serve for life. Political considerations often affect a president’s choice of a nominee to the Court. Presidents want someone with their own political beliefs to sit on the Court. The attorney general, the American Bar Association, interest groups, and even sitting justices advise the president on whom to nominate to the Court. The First African American member of the Court was Thurgood Marshall. Sandra Day O’Connor was the first woman on the Court. One early chief justice, John Marshall, was a very influential member of the Court. His opinion in the case of Marbury v. Madison outlined one of the Court’s most important powers, judicial review. With this power the Court can determine whether or not acts of Congress or executive orders are constitutional.

The Constitution gives the president the power to appoint federal judges with the “Advice and Consent of the Senate.” Presidents look for candidates who have distinguished themselves as attorneys in the state where an opening exists. They also tend to look for candidates who share their political ideology. The president submits a nomination to the Senate. The nomination goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for study.

Once a candidate has been selected, the nomination goes to the Senate Judiciary Committee for review. The committee holds public hearings, during which it takes testimony from the nominee and from witnesses who support or oppose the appointment. The Judiciary Committee then recommends, by majority vote, whether the full Senate should confirm or reject the nomination. Finally, the full Senate votes on the nomination.

Senatorial courtesy allows a senator to block a nomination to a federal court in his or her home state. Nominations are blocked through a process known as the blue-slip policy. When the Senate Judiciary Committee receives a nomination, it notifies the senators from the nominee’s state by sending them an approval form on a blue sheet of paper. If a senator fails to return the blue slip, this indicates his or her opposition to the appointment. As a courtesy to the senator, the Judiciary Committee then kills the nomination by refusing to act on it.

If approved by the committee, the nomination is submitted to the full Senate for a confirmation vote. Nominees who make it through the confirmation process remain in office, as Article III states, “during good Behaviour.” This means they are judges for life or until they choose to retire.

Each state has its own method of choosing the judges who preside over state courts. There are three basic routes to a judgeship: judicial election, judicial appointment, or merit selection.

The oldest method of choosing state judges is through the election process. This method of choosing judges is not without its pitfalls. First, to fund their campaigns, judicial candidates must often seek contributions from lawyers and business that may eventually appear before them in court. This may interfere with their ability to be impartial. Second, voter turnout for judicial elections is notoriously low. Most voters simply do not know enough about judgeship candidates to cast a meaningful vote.

In a handful of states, judges are appointed by the governor or state legislature. This method relieves poorly informed voters of the responsibility of choosing judges. However, there are drawbacks. Governors often use their appointment power to award judgeships to those who have supported them politically. Similarly, state legislatures tend to appoint former lawmakers to be judges. Such appointees may or may not be highly qualified to serve as judges.

Merit selection and retention elections. Many judges are selected through a process that combines appointments and elections. Under this system, a committee nominates candidates for judgeships based on their merits, or qualifications. The governor then appoints judges from this list. After a fixed period, voters are asked to confirm or reject the appointment in a retention election. If a majority of voters answer yes, the judge remains in office for a longer term. If a majority says no, the judge is removed from office.

The judicial system’s job is to resolve conflicts peacefully in accordance with the law and in a manner most parties to the conflict will see as just or fair. The challenge of resolving conflicts in a just manner usually begins in trial courts, which focus on sorting through the facts of a case. Cases can be categorized by whether the dispute involves criminal or civil law. Criminal law refers to legal measures passed by a legislative body to protect the welfare of society and to provide punishments for those who fail to comply. People found guilty of violating criminal laws are punished through fines, prison sentences, probation, or similar penalties. Civil law refers to legal measures that govern conflicts between private parties or between a private party and the government. Conflicts can arise from various circumstances, including disputes over the ownership of property, injuries suffered in an accident, or questions about the terms of a contract. In most civil cases, one party sues another party for damages, or compensation of some sort.

Econ: US Economy Characteristics

US Econ Pillars

Americans describe their economy as a free enterprise system. In a free enterprise system, individuals own the factors of production and make decisions about how to use those factors within the framework of the law.

Economic freedom is the essence of the U.S. economic system. This is the ability of individuals to act in their own best interest in free markets. This means they can buy what they want and from whom they want. If they do not like what one firm is selling, they can take their business elsewhere. They are free to start businesses or to seek any job they choose. Firms are free to make what they want, hire whomever they choose, and set their own wages and prices.

Competition means anyone can enter the market at any time and many rival sellers usually vie for customers’ business. Competition provides an incentive for businesses to create new and better products and ways of serving customers. For consumers, this means more goods and services to choose from. Competition also encourages producers to use their resources efficiently in order to lower costs.

Equal opportunity means that Americans are born equal in terms of their rights, freedoms, and the opportunity to make the best of their talents and abilities.

Binding contract is an agreement between a buyer and a seller and are used in all kinds of economic transactions. In a free enterprise system, people are free to decide what contracts they want to enter into, but once agreed on, a contract is binding. That means both sides have to fulfill their ends of the deal.

Property rights are the rights of those who own land, buildings, or other goods to use or dispose of them as they choose. It also provides for the protection of intellectual property by empowering Congress to enact patent and copyright laws.

If any one force could be said to drive a free enterprise system, it is the profit motive. Profit is the money earned by a business after subtracting its costs of operation. The desire to make a profit is known as the profit motive. The profit motive is closely tied to the incentives-matter principle. Profits are our incentive to work or start businesses in the hope of making money for ourselves.

The final key characteristic of a free enterprise system is a relatively limited role for government in the economy. In the United   States, the government does not try to control firms. Nor does it often compete with firms. Government intervention in the economy is generally limited to seven areas.

  • Protecting property rights and contracts. The government enforces laws that protect property owners and patent and copyright holders.
  • Promoting the general welfare. The government funds projects and programs that benefit society as a whole.
  • Preserving competition. The government enacts laws that protect and preserve a competitive marketplace.
  • Protecting consumers, workers, and the environment. The government requires businesses to ensure that their products do not harm consumers. It also imposes regulations on firms to promote workplace safety and reduce pollution.
  • Stabilizing the economy. The government works to keep the economy growing steadily rather than alternating between periods of growth and recession

District Inservice


HGov: Current Events

Dog Taking Test   Constitution Quiz I  Good luck!


current events7

The recent war in Iraq has precipitated a nationwide debate on a longstanding Constitutional and political question: What are the respective roles and responsibilities of the executive and legislative branches in making war? In the course of this lesson, students will examine the constitutional, legal, political and historical sources of this debate and apply them to the current conflict in Iraq and to other situations both past and present.