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34 terms

Chapter 15

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amicus curiae
literally, "friend of the court"; individuals or groups who are not parties to a lawsuit but who seek to assist the Supreme Court in reaching a decision by presenting additional briefs
appellate court
a court that hears the appeals of trial court decisions
briefs
written documents in which attorneys explain, using case precedents, why the court should find in favor of their client
chief justice
justice on the Supreme Court who presides over the Court's public sessions
civil law
a system of jurisprudence, including private law and governmental actions, to settle disputes that do not involve criminal penalties
class action suit
a legal action by which a group or class of individuals with common interests can file a suit on behalf of everyone who shares that interest
criminal law
the branch of law that deals with disputes or actions involving criminal penalties (as opposed to civil law); it regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes, and provides punishment for criminal acts
defendant
the one against whom a complaint is brought in a criminal or civil case
dissenting opinion
a decision written by a justice in the minority in a particular case in which the justice wishes to express his or her reasoning in the case
due process of law
the right of every citizen against arbitrary action by national or state governments
judicial activism
judicial philosophy that posits that the Court should go beyond the words of the Constitution or a statute to consider the broader societal implications of its decisions
judicial restraint
judicial philosophy whose adherents refuse to go beyond the clear words of the Constitution in interpreting its meaning
judicial review
the power of the courts to declare actions of the legislative and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional. The Supreme Court asserted this power in Marbury v. Madison
jurisdiction
the sphere of a court's power and authority
Miranda rule
the requirement, articulated by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, that persons under arrest must be informed prior to police interrogation of their rights to remain silent and to have the benefit of legal counsel
mootness
a criterion used by courts to screen cases that no longer require resolution.
opinion
the written explanation of the Supreme Court's decision in a particular case
oral argument
stage in Supreme Court procedure in which attorneys for both sides appear before the Court to present their positions and answer questions posed by justices
original jurisdiction
the authority to initially consider a case. Distinguished from appellate jurisdiction, which is the authority to hear appeals from a lower court's decision
per curiam
decision by an appellate court, without a written opinion, that refuses to review the decision of a lower court; amounts to a reaffirmation of the lower court's opinion
plaintiff
the individual or organization who brings a complaint in court
plea bargains
negotiated agreements in criminal cases in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for the state's agreement to reduce the severity of the criminal charge the defendant is facing
precedents
prior cases whose principles are used by judges as the bases for their decisions in present cases
public law
cases involving the actions of public agencies or officials.
senatorial courtesy
the practice whereby the president, before formally nominating a person for a federal judgeship, seeks the indication that senators from the candidate's own state support the nomination
solicitor general
the top government lawyer in all cases before the Supreme Court where the government is a party
standing
the right of an individual or organization to initiate a court case
stare decisis
literally, 'let the decision stand.' The doctrine that a previous decision by a court applies as a precedent in similar cases until that decision is overruled
supremacy clause
Article VI of the Constitution, which states that laws passed by the national government and all treaties are the supreme law of the land and superior to all laws adopted by any state or any subdivision
supreme court
the highest court in a particular state or in the United States. This court primarily serves an appellate function
trial court
the first court to hear a criminal or civil case
Uniform Commercial Code
code used in many states in the area of contract law to reduce interstate differences in judicial decisions
writ of certiorari
decision of at least four of the nine Supreme Court justices to review a decision of a lower court; from the Latin "to make more certain"
writ of habeas corpus
a court order that the individual in custody be brought into court and shown the cause for detention. Habeas corpus is guaranteed by the Constitution and can be suspended only in cases of rebellion or invasion