Course Court Systems and Practices

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1 Course Court Systems and Practices Unit I Criminal Justice System Essential Question What are the history, structure, and function of the state and federal courts and criminal procedure? TEKS (c) (1)(A) Prior Student Learning None Estimated Time 3 to 6 hours Criminal Justice System and the Courts Rationale Understanding the history, structure, and function of the state and federal courts and criminal procedure is pertinent to students seeking careers in law and public safety. Objectives The students will be able to: 1. Describe the historical foundations of the federal and state court systems 2. Identify the levels and functions of the federal and state court systems 3. Describe the criminal cases heard in the various courts Engage Select three short videos to watch from Federal Pathways to the Bench : (at least one magistrate, one district-court judge, and one appellate judge). Then use the following questions for discussion: What do all of the judges have in common? Did any of their judgeships fall into their laps? How did each of these judges view education? Use Discussion Rubric for assessment. Key Points I. Key Terms A. Civil Law the body of law that defines private rights and remedies to govern conflicts between private individuals or entities B. Criminal Law the body of law that defines crimes and punishments through rules, regulations, and statutes; what is prohibited by the government because it threatens public safety and welfare C. Marbury v. Madison an 1803 case that established the power of judicial review by the US Supreme Court; the power was later extended to the federal courts D. Circuit Riders Judges who rode from place to place in many different locations of states or federal territories to hold trials on a regular basis, once a month or once every few months II. History of the federal court system A. Article III of the US Constitution established a federal court system B. Congress created Article III on Sept. 24,

2 C. Congress passed the Judiciary Act of 1789, which established 13 courts, one for each of the original states D. Since 1789 there have been numerous Judiciary Acts passed that continue to define the American Court System E. The Supreme Court originally had 6 justices F. Originally, there were only three circuit courts with judges being circuit riders III. Structure of the federal court system A. The structure of the federal court system begins with the magistrate courts and ends with the Supreme Court: 1. Supreme Court 2. Appellate Courts 3. Trial Courts 4. Magistrate Courts B. Magistrate Courts 1. Created by the Federal Magistrate s Act of Magistrates are appointed by a district court judge a) Full-time magistrates are appointed to an 8-year term b) Part-time magistrates are appointed to a 4-year term C. Trial Courts 1. Are also known as US district courts 2. There are 94 US district courts covering the US and its territories 3. The judges are appointed by the US President a) Serve a life term b) Consent from Congress is required D. Court of Appeals 1. Are also known as Appeals Court, Appellate Court, and Circuit Courts 2. There are 12 US Regional Circuit Courts of Appeal and one US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and approximately 165 federal courts of appeals judges 3. The court does not conduct a jury trial but is made up of a panel of judges, usually three 4. The judges are appointed by the US President a) Confirmed by the Senate b) Serve a lifetime appointment E. US Supreme Court 1. Is the highest court in the US 2. Consists of nine justices 3. A decision of the Supreme Court is final and cannot be overruled 4. The judges are nominated and appointed by the US President a) Confirmed by Senate b) Serve a lifetime appointment 2

3 IV. Function of the federal court system (Criminal Law) A. Magistrate Courts 1. Assist the US district courts 2. May conduct trials in misdemeanors and petty offenses, along with performing in felony cases pretrial duties, such as preliminary hearings, pretrial motions, and conferences B. US District Courts 1. Conduct trials in which there have been violations of federal criminal laws 2. Conduct arraignments, pleas, and felony trials C. Court of Appeals 1. The appellate courts hear appeals from the US district courts 2. Defendants can appeal their cases based on a claim that they were denied a fair trial or the law they were convicted under was unconstitutional 3. The court must determine: a) If the district judge made a judicial error b) If the error could have substantially affected the court s decision c) If the answer is no to both questions, the appeal is dismissed d) If the answer is yes to one of the above questions, the court will review the appeal and issue a ruling D. US Supreme Court 1. As a general rule, agrees to decide on cases where there is a difference of opinion among the courts of appeals, or where there is an important constitutional question or issue of federal law that needs to be clarified 2. Decides which cases it will hear 3. Is the legal mediator for lawsuits between states, and between the US and foreign countries 4. Is the final authority for legal opinions binding on the federal government 5. Must review cases when a) A federal court has held an act of Congress to be unconstitutional b) A US court of appeals has found a state statute to be unconstitutional c) A state s highest court of appeals has ruled a federal law to be unconstitutional d) An individual s challenge to a state statute on federal constitutional grounds is upheld by a state s highest court of appeals 6. Once the court makes a ruling, the lower courts, including state courts, have to fall in line with that ruling 3

4 V. History of the state court system A. The Texas Supreme Court was established in 1836 after the Texas Revolution B. In 1845 the Supreme Court was restructured, and in 1850 the offices of the Supreme Court were filled by elections C. In 1876, to relieve the case load of the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals was created to deal with criminal cases; it was later renamed the Court of Criminal Appeals D. In 1980 the previously established courts, the Courts of Civil Appeals, were renamed Courts of Appeals and were designed to relieve the Court of Criminal Appeals caseload VI. Structure of the state court system A. Began with the justice or municipal courts and ended with the Texas Supreme Court or the Court of Criminal Appeals: 1. Texas Supreme Court or Court of Criminal Appeals 2. Courts of appeals 3. District courts 4. County courts 5. Justice courts or municipal courts B. Justice or municipal courts justice courts* a) 819 judges* municipal courts* a) 1,559 judges* 3. Justices of the Peace a) Are elected b) Do not have to be licensed attorneys 4. Municipal judges are hired by the city they serve C. County courts courts* a) 254 constitutional county courts (1 per county) b) 237 statutory county courts* c) 18 statutory probate courts 2. Judges are elected 3. Judges do not have to be licensed attorneys D. District courts courts* judges* districts contain one county* districts cover more than one county 5. Judges are elected 6. Judges must be licensed attorneys E. Courts of Appeals courts by region justices 3. Justices are elected 4

5 F. Courts of Last Resort for Texas State Courts 1. Texas Supreme Court a) 1 court in Austin b) 9 justices c) Are elected 2. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals a) 1 court in Austin b) 9 judges c) Are elected VII. Function of the state court system (Criminal Law) A. Justice courts 1. Class C criminal misdemeanors punishable by fine only (no confinement) 2. May issue search or arrest warrants 3. These courts can also handle civil issues, such as issuing marriage licenses and settling small-claims suits B. Municipal courts 1. Class C criminal misdemeanors punishable by fine only (no confinement) 2. May issue search or arrest warrants 3. Municipal ordinance offenses: a) Punishable by a fine not to exceed: (1) $2,000 for ordinances that govern fire safety, zoning, and public health; or (2) $500 for all others C. County courts 1. Constitutional county courts a) Preside over Class A and Class B Misdemeanors b) Fines greater than $500 or jail sentence 2. Statutory county courts a) Preside over Class A and Class B Misdemeanors b) Fines greater than $500 or jail sentence 3. Statutory probate courts a) Primarily probate matters D. District courts 1. All Felony criminal cases E. Courts of Appeals 1. Intermediate appeals from trial courts within district F. Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals 1. Texas Supreme Court a) Has final appellate jurisdiction in civil cases and juvenile cases b) Responsible for licensing attorneys and attorney discipline 2. Texas Court of Criminal Appeals a) Has final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases b) Hears appeals of death sentence cases 5

6 *Totals are as of March Activities 1. Court Research and Presentation. Have the students select one court outlined in this lesson and research the career of a judge or justice for that court. The students must include the judge or justice s qualifications, means of taking office, and discipline. They must pick an actual judge/justice about which to present a biography, salary, and any other pertinent information. Along with writing a research paper, students should present the information to the class by creating a poster board or by using computer-based presentation software. Use the Research Rubric and Presentation Rubric for assessments. 2. The Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle. Have the students complete the Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle. Use The Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle Key for assessment. Assessments Criminal Justice System and the Courts Exam and Key Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle and Key Discussion Rubric Individual Work Rubric Presentation Rubric Research Rubric Materials Criminal Justice System and the Courts computer-based presentation Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle and Key Computer-based presentation software or posters and drawing materials Computers and Internet Projector and screen Resources Prentice Hall, Criminal Courts: Structure, Process, and Issues (2nd Edition), 2007, Dean John Champion, Richard D. Hartley, & Gary A. Rabe United States Courts 6

7 ure_chart.pdf Texas Courts Online Outline of the U.S. Legal System, Bureau of International Information Programs, United States Department of State, 2004, Accommodations for Learning Differences For reinforcement, the students will create a flowchart of the different courts, from the lowest to the highest. They will list the court, along with its jurisdiction, and show how the system moves from the municipal to highest state courts. Use the Individual Work Rubric for assessment. For enrichment, students will interview a judge or justice from one of the courts listed in the lesson. Students will write a paper regarding their interview. Use the Individual Work Rubric for assessment. State Education Standards Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills for Career and Technical Education Court Systems and Practices (One to Two Credits). (1) The student examines the structure of the legal system in the United States. The student is expected to: (A) trace the history, structure, and function of state and federal court systems and criminal procedure; College and Career Readiness Standards Social Studies Standards V. Effective Communication A. Clear and coherent oral and written communication 1. Use appropriate oral communication techniques depending on the context or nature of the interaction. 7

8 Name Date Criminal Justice System and the Courts Exam 1. What article of the US Constitution established a federal court system? A. Article I B. Article II C. Article III D. Article IV 2. What did Congress pass that established 13 courts for the original 13 states? A. Judiciary Act of 1786 B. Judiciary Act of 1787 C. Judiciary Act of 1788 D. Judiciary Act of How many justices did the US Supreme Court originally have? A. 6 B. 7 C. 8 D What are also known as Circuit Courts? A. Trial Courts B. Supreme Court C. Appellate Courts D. Magistrate Courts 5. What are also known as US District Courts? A. Trial Courts B. Supreme Court C. Appellate Courts D. Magistrate Courts 6. How many US District Courts are there? A. 84 B. 94 C. 104 D Which federal court s decisions cannot be overruled? A. Appellate Court B. Trial Court C. Magistrate Court D. Supreme Court 8

9 8. How many federal Circuit Courts are there? A. 12 B. 13 C. 14 D How many justices make up the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals? A. 6 B. 7 C. 8 D What federal court is usually made up of a panel of three judges? A. Magistrate Court B. Trial Court C. Supreme Court D. Appellate Court 11. What federal court decides which cases it will hear? A. Magistrate Court B. Trial Court C. Supreme Court D. Appellate Court 12. Which federal court determines if the district judge made a judicial error that could have substantially affected the court s decision? A. Trial Court B. Magistrate Court C. Appellate Court D. Supreme Court 13. Which federal court is the legal mediator for lawsuits between states and between the United States and foreign countries; is the final authority for legal opinions binding on the federal government; and is the court that other courts have to fall in line with when it makes a ruling? A. Trial Court B. Magistrate Court C. Appellate Court D. Supreme Court 9

10 14. Which federal court generally only agrees to decide cases where there is a difference of opinion among the courts of appeals, or where there is an important constitutional question or issue of federal law that needs to be clarified? A. Magistrate Court B. Trial Court C. Appellate Court D. Supreme Court 15. Which federal court tries Class A misdemeanors and petty offenses along with performing duties such as issuing warrants and arraignments? A. Appellate Court B. Supreme Court C. Magistrate Court D. Trial Court 16. Which federal court hears appeals from defendants whose cases are based on a claim that they were denied a fair trial or the law they were convicted under was unconstitutional? A. Trial Court B. Appellate Court C. Magistrate Court D. Supreme Court 17. When does the Supreme Court have to review a case? A. When a federal court has held an act of Congress to be constitutional B. When an individual s challenge to a state statute on federal constitutional grounds is upheld by a state s highest court of appeals C. When a U.S. Court of Appeals has found a state statute to be constitutional D. When a state s highest court of appeals has ruled a federal law to be constitutional 18. When was the Texas Supreme Court established? A B C D What year was the Court of Criminal Appeals originally established? A B C D

11 20. Which state court has final appellate jurisdiction in civil cases? A. District Court B. County Court C. Court of Criminal Appeals D. Texas Supreme Court 21. What year was the Court of Appeals given its new name and designed to relieve the Court of Criminal Appeals caseload? A B C D Which state court handles civil issues such as issuing marriage licenses and settling small-claims suits? A. Magistrate Court B. District Court C. Justice Court D. Courts of Appeals 23. Which state court has final appellate jurisdiction in criminal cases? A. District Court B. County Court C. Courts of Appeals D. Court of Criminal Appeals 24. Which state court presides over Class A and Class B Misdemeanors? A. County Court B. District Court C. Courts of Appeals D. Court of Criminal Appeals 25. Which state court has intermediate appellate jurisdiction in criminal and civil cases? A. District Court B. County Court C. Court of Criminal Appeals D. Courts of Appeals 11

12 Criminal Justice System and the Courts Exam Key 1. C 2. D 3. A 4. C 5. A 6. B 7. D 8. B 9. D 10. D 11. C 12. C 13. D 14. D 15. C 16. B 17. B 18. C 19. B 20. D 21. D 22. C 23. D 24. A 25. D 12

13 Name Date Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle Across 4. The highest court in the federal system 7. There are 254 of these in Texas 11. Document that created the judicial branch 14. Type of case that deals with an individual s private rights 15. Court system that deals with United States laws 16. Type of case when someone is accused of committing a crime 17. There are 18 Statutory Courts in Texas 18. Court that hears felony cases in Texas 19. Means by which federal judges are placed in office Down 1. The Court of Criminal Appeals hears these appeals in the state of Texas 2. There are two courts of last in Texas 3. Hears cases of city ordinance violations 5. The Texas Supreme Court is located here 6. The Supreme Court's authority to decide what is constitutional, as decided in Marbury v. Madison 8. Means by which judges in Texas are placed in office 9. Justice of the Peace does not have to be a licensed one of these 10. Court system that deals with state laws 12. Number of Supreme Court justices 13. What an appellate court hears from a lower court 18. Two court systems in the United States 13

14 Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle Word Bank Appeal Appointed Attorney Austin Civil Constitution Counties Criminal Death Penalty District Dual Elected Federal Judicial Review Municipal Court Nine Probate Resort State Supreme Court 14

15 Criminal Justice System and the Courts Crossword Puzzle Key Across 4. The highest court in the federal system Supreme Court 7. There are 254 of these in Texas Counties 11. Document that created the judicial branch Constitution 14. Type of case that deals with an individual s private rights Civil 15. Court system that deals with United States laws Federal 16. Type of case when someone is accused of committing a crime Criminal 17. There are 18 Statutory Courts in Texas Probate 18. Court that hears felony cases in Texas District 19. Means by which federal judges are placed in office Appointed Down 1. The Court of Criminal Appeals hears these appeals in the state of Texas Death Penalty 2. There are two courts of last in Texas Resort 3. Hears cases of city ordinance violations Municipal Court 5. The Texas Supreme Court is located here Austin 6. The Supreme Court's authority to decide what is constitutional, as decided in Marbury v. Madison Judicial Review 8. Means by which judges in Texas are placed in office Elected 9. Justice of the Peace does not have to be a licensed one of these Attorney 10. Court system that deals with state laws State 12. Number of Supreme Court justices Nine 13. What an appellate court hears from a lower court Appeal 18. Two court systems in the United States Dual 15

16 Name Date Objectives 4 pts. Excellent Discussion Rubric 3 pts. 2 pts. Needs Some Good Improvement 1 pt. Needs Much Improvement N/A Pts. Participates in group discussion Encourages others to join the conversation Keeps the discussion progressing to achieve goals Shares thoughts actively while offering helpful recommendations to others Gives credit to others for their ideas Respects the opinions of others Involves others by asking questions or requesting input Expresses thoughts and ideas clearly and effectively Total Points (32 pts.) Comments: 16

17 Name Date Objectives Follows directions Student completed the work as directed, following the directions given, in order and to the level of quality indicated Individual Work Rubric 4 pts. Excellent 3 pts. Good 2 pts. Needs Some Improvement 1 pt. Needs Much Improvement N/A Pts. Time management Student used time wisely and remained on task 100% of the time Organization Student kept notes and materials in a neat, legible, and organized manner. Information was readily retrieved Evidence of learning Student documented information in his or her own words and can accurately answer questions related to the information retrieved *Research/Gathering information (if relevant) Student used a variety of methods and sources to gather information. Student took notes while gathering information Total Points (20 pts.) Comments: 17

18 Name: Date: Presentation Rubric Objectives Topic/Content Topic discussed completely and in-depth Includes properly cited sources (if used) Creativity/Neatness Integrates a variety of multimedia effects to create a professional presentation (transition and graphics) or appropriate visual aid used Title slide, table of contents, bibliography are included, using acceptable format Mechanics Grammar, spelling, punctuation, and capitalization are correct Image and font size are legible to the entire audience Oral Presentation Communicates with enthusiasm and eye contact Voice delivery and projection are dynamic and audible Audience Interaction Presentation holds audience s attention and relates a clear message Clearly and effectively communicates the content throughout the presentation 4 pts. Excellent 3 pts. Good 2 pts. Needs Some Improvement 1 pt. Needs Much Improvement N/A Pts. Total Points (20 pts.) Comments: 18

19 Name Date Objectives Question/goal Student identified and communicated a question or goal of the research 4 pts. Excellent Research Rubric 3 pts. Good 2 pts. Needs Some Improvement 1 pt. Needs Much Improvement N/A Pts. Research/Gathering information (if relevant) Student used a variety of methods and sources to gather information. Student took notes while gathering information Conclusion/Summary Student drew insightful conclusions and observations from the information gathered. Information is organized in a logical manner Communication Student communicated the information gathered and summary or conclusions persuasively. Student demonstrated skill in the use of media used to communicate the results of research Reflection Student reflected on the importance of the research and its potential application Total Points (20 pts.) Comments: 19

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