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Terms in this set (24)

Dual court system

o State court systems, federal court system
o Federal cases listed in Article III and Eleventh Amendment of Constitution

Federal question cases: involving U.S. Constitution, federal law, treaties
Diversity cases: involving different states, or citizens of different states

o Some cases can be tried in either federal or state court

Example: if both federal and state laws have been broken (dual sovereignty; the Rodney King case)
Jurisdiction: each government has right to enact laws and neither can block prosecution out of sympathy for the accused.

o Some cases that begin in state courts can be appealed to Supreme Court.
o Controversies between two state governments can be heard only by Supreme Court.

Route to the Supreme Court

o Most federal cases begin in district courts

Most are straightforward and do not lead to new public policy
Volume is huge: About 650 district court judges received over 300,000 cases.

o Supreme Court picks the cases it wants to hear on appeal.

Requires agreement of four justices (or a writ of certiorari) to hear case
Supreme Court generally only agrees to review certain types of cases, involving:

A significant federal or constitutional question
Conflicting decisions by circuit courts
Constitutional interpretation by one of the highest state courts, about state or federal law

Court may consider seven thousand petitions each year, but only about one hundred are granted.
Limited number of cases heard results in diversity of constitutional interpretation among appeals courts.
Increased workload has led to greater influence of law clerks.

Help to decide which cases should be heard under a writ of certiorari
May draft initial opinions for the justices