Discuss TWO (2) differences between the Texas Supreme Court and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals.
1. the Texas Supreme Court hears civil and non death penalty criminal cases while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals hears ONLY death penalty cases
2. the Texas Supreme Court hears trials en banc, with all 9 judges present and the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals has a panel of only 3 judges(except for capital murder cases)
Discuss the various components of the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act of 1995 and identify important loopholes in the act.
the Judicial Campaign Fairness Act limits contributions to judges and judicial candidates and restricts periods in which they can raise money. Supreme Court judges can receive up to 5,000 from individuals in the primaries, and 5,000 for each election after. Law firms can contribute up to 30,000. The PAC can only contribute 300,000.
The loopholes are that there is no requirement that a judge that has received a lot of money from a lawyer/party to save himself from the case. The penalties for violating the contribution limits only apply to the person who accepts the contribution.
Describe the five levels of the Texas judicial structure and the courts that comprise them. Which courts have criminal, civil, and appellate jurisdiction?
1. Local Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction- JP and Municipal Courts, they have civil and criminal jurisdiction and deal with small claims, civil, and misdemeanor cases
2. County Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction- County Courts, they have civil and criminal jurisdiction and deal with probate, civil and juvi matters
3. State Trial Courts of General and Special Jurisdiction- District Courts, they have criminal and civil jurisdiction and deal with probate, and civil actions like divorce, child support, and juvi matters
4. State intermediate Appellate Courts- Court of Appeals, they have appellate jurisdiction and deal with matters brought up from lower courts and non death penalty criminal cases
5. State Highest Appellate Courts- Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals, they have appellate jurisdiction and deal with civil/non death penalty cases(TSC), and ONLY death penalty cases(TCCA)
Compare and contrast the two major parties. What is their history of involvement? What does each stand for? How are they faring in Texas politics today?
Texas used to be a one-party system consisting of the Democratic Party. After Reconstruction, the parties switched back and forth until the Democrats became the Republicans and the new Democrats formed a new political party with different ideals. The differences between the two are that D's are more liberal, and R's are more conservative. D's believe in government assistance for social programs and the civil rights and liberties of citizens. R's believe in helping businesses and everything from there will trickle down and help everyone else. The Republicans have a strong hold on Texas as of now, with Texas being a red state. Only the southern parts of Texas are Democrats, being close to the Mexican border with minorities and lower socioeconomic statuses.
Discuss the impact of independent and third-party candidates upon Texas politics. Why do they keep recurring even though it seems like they are never successful? What are the most prominent third parties today?
The impact of the independent and third-party candidates that Texas isn't growing into the Republican state we thought it was, it's actually growing into a no-party state, with more people identifying as independents. They keep recurring because more and more people don't want to be identified with a particular party because party ID isn't important and elections are about the candidates, not about the parties. THIRD PARTIES?
Why have campaign costs for public officer in Texas risen so sharply over the past couple of decades? Assume that you will run for a seat in the Texas House of Representatives. Upon what will you have to spend in campaign funds, with which states laws must you comply, and how will you raise these funds?
Campaign costs have risen because they are necessary to win a seat in Texas. Since Texas is so large, name recognition is a big deal and will take you a long way if people know your name. The way to get name recognition is to travel the state, and through TV advertising.
In campaign funds, you would have to spend about $325,000. You must also comply with a reform that requires you to have a campaign treasurer and report your contributions. You must also file your contribution reports electronically. I would raise these funds by going on a tour across Texas and have TV advertisements to gain name recognition.
Trace the various constitutional, legal, and judicial devices by which the franchise was broadened in Texas in the 20th century. How do you explain the fact that, even though Texas has virtually universal adult suffrage, well under one-half of Texas citizens vote? Do you vote? If you do, why do you? If you do not, why don't you?
Some of the devices that made voting universal were getting rid of the literacy tests, which was a test of voter knowledge of the Constitution, with the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Another one is getting rid of the grandfather clause that exempted people and their ancestors from literacy tests and poll taxes. Another was getting rid of the poll tax with the 24th amendment and Harper v. Virginia St Bd of Elections. Also the 14th amendment-gave AA citizenship, 15th- gave all men the ROV(right to vote), 19th-women the ROV. and 16th-voting age 18. The turnout is low in Texas because of too many elections, negative campaigning, and feelings of isolation from the gov't/pollsters/media. I don't really vote because for me politics are too confusing and i don't care to understand them.
Discuss the three types of elections, i.e., primary, general, and special. Explain the purposes of each and how each is administered and regulated. When do they occur?
Primary Elections- the main purpose of primary elections is to select political party nominees. The parties are in charge of administering it's own election. They occur ?
General Elections- the main purpose of general elections is to elect the candidate for office. The candidate with the most votes wins, and the secretary of state and county clerk make sure everything is administered and reported correctly. They occur the Tuesday following the first Monday on even years in November.
Special Elections- the main purpose of special elections is to fill vacancies, ratify state constitutional amendments, or approve a bond issue. They are called by the governor and are done by filing fees or signing a petition. They occur whenever the governor/legislature/local gov calls them.
Describe the provisions in the Texas Election Code relating to the conducting, financing, and scheduling for primary, general, and special elections. Through elections in Texas are essentially honest, occasionally fraud does occur. For example, in 1994, 136 absentee ballots were all mailed to the same address in Duval County and marked by the same hand. Can you think of anything in the administrations of elections to further enhance the validity and honesty of the ballot?
The provisions in the Texas Election Code talk about requirements for candidates, contributions, advertising, officeholders, venues, out-of-state-committees, and guidelines for elections. For primaries, they are conducted through the political parties, special are conducted by the governor, and general are conducted through the state. (EVERYTHING FROM QUESTION #8). For primaries, you could have someone other than the political party do it because they could make the ballot favor their party. For general, you could have more just the secretary of state is in charge or that more people verify that everything is done correctly.