What is common law, and what is its origin?
Judge-made law that originated in England from decisions shaped according to prevailing custom. Decisions were applied to similar situations and gradually became common to the nation.
What does the term "stare decisis" mean?
To stand on decided cases; the judicial policy of following precedents established by past decisions
What are statues?
Laws enacted by legislatures such as criminal codes, commercial laws, and laws covering a variety of other matters.
How many court systems are there in the U.S. today?
Federal courts only have jurisdiction in what two types of cases?
Cases that involve:
1. Federal question
2. Diversity of citizenship
What the the 3 tiers of the federal court system?
1. U.S. district courts and various specialized courts of limited jurisdiction
2. Intermediate U.S. courts of appeals
3. The United States Supreme Court
What types of courts are district courts and what type of jurisdiction do they have?
Trial Courts - Courts in which trials are held and testimony is taken. General Jurisdiction - meaning they can hear cases involving a broad array of issues.
How do proceedings in appellate courts differ from those of trial courts?
The appellate court does not conduct another trial when it reviews a case decided in a district court. they do a panel of 3 or more judges
When did the Supreme Court come into existence, and how many judges did it originally have?
1789- 5 justices
What is the FISA Court and how do they differ from regular courts?
Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act - established to heat requests for warrants for the surveillance of suspected spies. recent amendments changed the wording to "a significant purpose" meaning that warrants may not be requested to obtain evidence that can be used in criminal trials. also not has the authority to approve physical as well as electronic searches without warrant.
What is amicus Curiae Brief?
A brief filed by a third party who is not directly involved in the litigation but who has an interest in the outcome of a case. "Friend of the court."
What is a class-action lawsuit?
A lawsuit filed by an individual seeking damages for "all persons similarly situated"
How are cases picked as far as which ones are reviewed?
- whether a legal question has been decided differently by various lower courts and needs resolution by the highest court
- whether a lower court's decision conflicts with an existing Supreme Court ruling
- whether the issue could have significance beyond the parties to the dispute
What is the solicitor general?
A high-ranking presidential appointee within the Justice Department represents the national gov. before the Supreme Court and promotes presidential policies in the federal court. Decides what cases the gov. should ask the Supreme Court to review and what position the gov. should take in cases before the court.
What is a writ of certiorari?
An order issued by a higher court to a lower court to send up the record of a case for review. The court will not issue a writ unless at least 4 justices.
What happens if a case is remanded?
It is sent back to the courts that originally heard it.
court opinion or determination on which all judges agree
court opinion reflecting views of majority of judges
separate opinion prepared by judge who supports decision of majority but wants to clarify a point.
separate opinion where judge disagrees with conclusion and expands on their views.
What power of the Supreme Court is their most important because it lets them check the power of the other two branches?
using powers to check the activities of gov. bodies when those bodies exceed their authority.
Defer decisions made by elected reps of people in the legislative and executive branches.