Chapter 9: The Judiciary

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Terms in this set (...)

Civil Case
Concerns private rights and remedies and usually involves private parties or organizations (Garcia v. Smith), although the government may on occasion be a party to a civil case
Criminal Case
Involves a violation of penal law that is prosecuted by the state
Burden of Proof
The duty and degree to which a party in a court case must prove its position
Court (dis)Organization
*Fragmented
*Overlapping
Municipal Court
*Authorized by statute
*Cities may organize
*Cover city ordinances and minor state law violations
*No potential jail time cases at this level
*Most cases involve traffic and parking violations
*May be major source of revenue for cities
*80% traffic tickets
*Judges and salaries determined by city
Preponderance of the Evidence
Whichever party has more evidence or proof on its side should win the case, no matter how slight the differential is
Beyond A Reasonable Doubt
The standard used to determine the guilt or innocence of a person criminally charged. To prove a defendant guilty, the state must provide sufficient evidence of guilt so that jurors have no doubt that might cause a reasonable person to question whether the accused was guilty
Original Jurisdiction
The power to try a case being heard for the first time
Appellate Jurisdiction
The power vested in an appellate court to review and revise the judicial action of an inferior court
Brief
A written argument prepared by the counsel arguing a case in court that summarizes the facts of the case, the pertinent laws, and the application of those laws to the facts supporting the counsel's position
Double Jeopardy
A second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal in the first trial
How to "beat" the system in Municipal Courts
*Plead Innocent
*Appeal (case when proven guilty)
*New Trial in new court
Which court has exclusive jurisdiction to try violations of city ordinances?
Municipal Courts
De Novo
Latin for "anew"; a de novo trial is a new trial conducted in a higher court. In these cases, higher courts completely retry cases. On appeal, higher courts simply review the law as decided by the lower courts
Justices of the Peace
*Constitutionally required court, elected judges
*Every county must have at least 1, no more than 8
*Minor criminal and civil cases
*May also be the County Coroner
*Biased, untrained, incompetent
County Courts
*Constitutionally required
*Elected judges
*Also head of Commissioner's Court which governs the county
*Paid by County
*Can get jail time
District Courts
*Chief Trial Courts
*Single judge courts
*Jurisdiction in felony cases
*Heavy caseload
*457 courts exist
Plea Bargaining
Negotiations between the prosecution and the defense to obtain a lighter sentence or other benefits in exchange for a guilty plea by the accused
*over 90% of all cases are never heard
Courts of Appeals
*Hear immediate appeals in both civil and criminal cases from district courts and county courts
Court of Criminal Appeals
*Texas has dual system of courts of last resort
*Texas Supreme Court is highest state appellate court in civil matters
*Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is the highest appellate court in criminal matters
*Has exclusive jurisdiction over automatic appeals in death penalty cases
Supreme Court
*Final court of appeals in civil and juvenile cases
*Has power to establish rules for the administration of justice
*Makes rules governing licensing of members of the state bar
*Consists of 1 chief and 8 associate justices- all elected statewide
Grand Jury
*Consists of 12 people
*Determine whether sufficient evidence exists to try an individual and therefore return an indictment
*Does not determine the guilt or innocence of the accused but rather whether there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused to trial
*Accused NOT allowed an attorney
*If Grand Jury indicts, elected DA has power to decide whether pursue prosecution or not
Information
A written accusation made by the prosecutor against a party charged with a minor; it is an alternative to an indictment and does not involve a grand jury
Indictment
A formal written accusation issued by a grand jury against a party charged with a crime when it has determined that there is sufficient evidence to bring the accused to trial
True Bill
An indictment returned by a grand jury
No Bill
A grand jury's refusal to return an indictment filed by the prosecutor
Petit Jury
A jury for civil or criminal trial
*Must be unanimous
Challenge for Cause
A request that a certain prospective juror not be allowed to serve on the jury for a specific reason, such as bias or knowledge of the case
Peremptory Challenge
A challenge made to a prospective juror without being required to give a reason for removal; the number of such challenges allotted to the prosecution and defense is limited
Hung Jury
A jury that is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation; the result is a mistrial
Merit Plan or Missouri Plan
A method of selecting judges on the basis of the merit or quality of the candidates and not on political considerations. Under this system, the governor fills court vacancies from a list of nominees submitted by a judicial commission, and these appointees later face retention elections
Why did reformers develop the merit plan for selecting judges?
To make selection of judges less political
A court that hears a case for the first time has what type of jurisdiction?
Original
What kind of court case uses the "preponderance of the evidence" standard?
Civil
Which of the following is TRUE of the justice of the peace courts?
They are regulated by county commissioners
In a criminal case, the prosecution must prove that the defendant is
Guilty beyond a reasonable doubt
A ________ trial is a new trial conducted in a higher court.
De novo
In Texas, if one juror disagrees with the other jurors' verdict in a criminal case
The result is a hung jury
When an appellate court reviews a case that has been appealed,
The original case and any lawyer's briefs are reviewed to determine if any legal process involved in the case was handled improperly.
A request to a judge that a certain prospective juror not be allowed to serve on the jury for a specific reason, such as bias or knowledge of the case, is called a
Challenge for cause
One of the MOST important differences between civil and criminal court cases is the
Burden of proof
The majority of the cases heard by the Texas Supreme Court are from a
Petition for review
An alternative to a grand jury indictment is ________ , a written accusation made by the prosecutor against a party charged with a minor crime.
the information
The caseload in ________ courts is so heavy that plea bargaining is often used to dispose of criminal cases.
District
An indictment returned by a grand jury is called a
True bill
In Texas, municipal courts
have exclusive jurisdiction to try violations of city ordinances
________ courts are often described as the chief trial courts of the state.
District
The merit plan is a method of selecting judges on the basis of candidate quality. It is also known as the
Missouri Plan
A jury for a criminal or civil trial is known as
Petit Jury
When voters in Texas are unaware of a candidate's qualifications, they tend to select judicial candidates based on
Political Party affiliation
A personal injury suit, a divorce case, a child custody dispute, a breach-of-contract case, a challenge to utility rates, and a dispute over water rights are all examples of
Civil suits
Which of the following groups has dominated recent elections for Texas's highest courts?
Republicans
According to the essay by Sergio Saenz-Rivera, what mechanism helps prevent Texas judges from engaging in undesirable behavior?
Texas Commission on Judicial Conduct