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Chapters13-15 and 23

Amicus Curiae Brief

A brief (a document containing a legal argument supporting a desired outcome in a particular case) filed by a third party, or amicus curiae (Latin for friend of the court), who is not directly involved in the litigation but who has an interest in the outcome of the case.

Appellate Court

A court having jurisdiction to review cases and issues that were originally tried in lower courts.

Case Law

Judicial interpretations of common law principles and doctrines, as well as interpretations of constitutional law, statutory law, and administrative law.

Class-Action Suit

A lawsuit filed by an individual seeking damages for all persons similarly situated.

Common Law

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.

Concurring Opinion

A separate opinion prepared by a judge who supports the decision of the majority of the court but who wants to make or clarify a particular point or to voice disapproval of the grounds on which the decision was made.

Dissenting Opinion

A separate opinion in which a judge dissents from (disagrees with) the conclusion reached by the majority on the court and expounds his or her own views about the case.

Diversity of Citizenship

The condition that exists when the parties to a lawsuit are citizens of different states, or when the parties are citizens of a U.S. state and citizens or the government of a foreign country. Diversity of citizenship can provide a basis for federal jurisdiction.

General Jurisdiction

Exists when a court's authority to hear cases is not significantly restricted. A court of general jurisdiction normally can hear a broad range of cases.


The authority of a court to decide certain cases. Not all courts have the authority to decide all cases. Where a case arises and what its subject matter is are two jurisdictional issues.

justiciable controversy

A controversy that is real and substantial, as opposed to hypothetical or academic


To engage in a legal proceeding or seek relief in a court of law; to carry on a lawsuit.

Majority Opinion

A court opinion reflecting the views of the majority of the judges.


The statement by a judge or a court of the decision reached in a case. The opinion sets forth the applicable law and details the reasoning on which the ruling was based.


A court rule bearing on subsequent legal decisions in similar cases. Judges rely on precedents in deciding cases.


To annul or make void a court ruling on account of some error or irregularity.

Rule of Four

A United States Supreme Court procedure by which four justices must vote to grant a petition for review if a case is to come before the full court.

Senatorial Courtesy

In federal district court judgeship nominations, a tradition allowing a senator to veto a judicial appointment in his or her state.

Stare Decisis

To stand on decided cases; the judicial policy of following precedents established by past decisions.

Strict Construction

A judicial philosophy that looks to the letter of the law when interpreting the Constitution or a particular statute.

Trial Court

The court in which most cases begin.

Unanimous Opinion

A court opinion or determination on which all judges agree.

Writ of Certiorari

An order issued by a higher court to a lower court to send up the record of a case for review.

Domestic Policy

Public plans or courses of action that concern internal issues of national importance, such as poverty, crime, and the environment.

Federal Open Market Committee

The most important body within the Federal Reserve System. The Federal Open Market Committee decides how monetary policy should be carried out.

Federal Reserve System (the Fed)

The agency created by Congress in 1913 to serve as the nation's central banking organization.

Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

The dollar value of all final goods and services produced in a one-year period.

Gross Public Debt

The net public debt plus interagency borrowings within the government.


a sustained rise in the general price level of goods and services

Keynesian Economics

A school of economic thought that tends to favor active federal government policymaking to stabilize economy-wide fluctuations, usually by implementing discretionary fiscal policy.


A joint state-federal program that provides medical care to the poor (including indigent elderly persons in nursing homes). The program is funded out of general government revenues.


A federal health-insurance program that covers U.S. residents over the age of sixtyfive. The costs are met by a tax on wages and salaries.

moral hazard

the danger that protecting an individual or institution from the consequences of failure will encourage risky behavior

personal mandate

in health-care reform, the requirement that all citizens obtain health-care insurance coverage from some source, public or private

Progressive Tax

A tax that rises in percentage terms as incomes rise.


Two or more successive quarters in which the economy shrinks instead of grows.

Regressive Tax

A tax that falls in percentage terms as incomes rise.

U.S. Treasury Bond

Debt issued by the federal government.


the inability of those who are in the labor force to find a job; the number of those in the labor force actively looking for a job, but unable to find one

Universal Health Insurance

Any of several possible programs to provide health insurance to everyone in the country. The central government does not necessarily provide the insurance itself, but may subsidize the purchase of insurance from private insurance companies.

Cold War

The ideological, political, and economic confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union following World War II.


A U.S. diplomatic policy adopted by the Truman administration to contain Communist power within its existing boundaries.


The process by which states carry on political relations with each other; settling conflicts among nations by peaceful means.


A French word meaning a relaxation of tensions. The term characterized U.S.-Soviet relations as they developed under President Richard Nixon and Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

Foreign Policy

A nation's external goals and the techniques and strategies used to achieve them.

Intelligence Community

The government agencies that gather information about the capabilities and intentions of foreign governments or that engage in convert actions.

Isolationist Foreign Policy

A policy of abstaining from an active role in international affairs or alliances, which characterized U.S. foreign policy toward Europe during most of the 1800s.

Monroe Doctrine

A policy statement made by President James Monroe in 1823, which set out three principles: (1) European nations should not establish new colonies in the Western Hemisphere, (2) European nations should not intervene in the affairs of independent nations of the Western Hemisphere, and (3) the United States would not interfere in the affairs of European nations.

Moral Idealism

A philosophy that sees nations as normally willing to cooperate and to agree on moral standards for conduct.

National Security Policy

Foreign and domestic policy designed to protect the nation's independence and political and economic integrity; policy that is concerned with the safety and defense of the nation.

Negative Constituents

Citizens who openly oppose the government's policies.
Example: State Department

Normal Trade Relations (NTR) Status

A status granted through an international treaty by which each member nation must treat other members at least as well as it treats the country that receives its most favorable treatment. This status was formerly known as most-favored-nation status. Example: China has permanent status

Political Realism

A philosophy that sees each nation acting principally in its own interest.

Soviet Bloc

The Soviet Union and the Eastern European countries that installed Communist regimes after World War II and were dominated by the Soviet Union.

Strategic Arms Limitation Treaty (SALT I)

A treaty between the United States and the Soviet Union to stabilize the nuclear arms competition between the two countries. SALT I talks began in 1969, and agreements were signed on May 26, 1972.

Technical Assistance

The practice of sending experts in such areas as agriculture, engineering, or business to aid other nations.

Truman Doctrine

The policy adopted by President Harry Truman in 1947 to halt Communist expansion in southeastern Europe


Found not guilty.

adversary system

A legal system in which parties to a legal action are opponents and are responsible for bringing the facts and law related to their case before the court.

appellate jurisdiction

The authority vested in an appellate court to review and revise the judicial actions of inferior courts.

burden of proof

In a court case, a party's duty to convince a judge or jury that the party's version of the facts is true. The standard of proof is higher in a criminal case than in a civil one.

change of venue

A change in the site of a trial.

civil law

The law regulating conduct between private persons over noncriminal matters. Under civil law, the government provides the forum for the settlement of disputes between private parties in such matters as contracts, domestic relations, and business relations.

county courts-at-law

In Texas, county courts in addition to the constitutional county court. They are established by the legislature in all but the smallest Texas counties and may have criminal or civil jurisdiction. They form a level of courts superior to justice of the peace and municipal courts but inferior to district courts. County Judge In Texas, an official elected countywide to preside over the commissioners court and to try certain minor cases.

deferred adjudication

A procedure that allows a judge to postpone final sentencing in a criminal case; charges are dismissed if the defendant completes a satisfactory probationary period.


The schedule of court activity.

due process

Established rules and principles for the administration of justice designed to safeguard the rights of the individual. The right to due process of law is provided by the U.S. Constitution and most state constitutions.

examining trial

A relatively uncommon procedure that may be requested by felony defendants in Texas. In an examining trial, a justice of the peace reviews the facts and decides whether the case should go to criminal court.

FBI index crimes

A set of crimes reported by the FBI and commonly used as a way of measuring the overall crime rate. The index crimes are murder and nonnegligent manslaughter, forcible rape, robbery, aggravated assault, burglary, theft, and motor vehicle theft.


A crime such as arson, murder, rape, or robbery that carries the most severe sanctions, usually ranging from one year in prison to death.

grand jury

A jury that sits in pretrial proceedings to determine if sufficient evidence exists to try an individual and, therefore, approve an indictment.


A lesser crime than a felony, punishable by a fine or imprisonment for up to one year.


A trial judged to be invalid because of fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again, beginning with the selection of the jury.

original jurisdiction

The authority of a court to consider a case in the first instance; the power to try a case, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, which involves the power to review cases decided by other courts.


Early release from prison under official supervision.

plea bargaining

Negotiations that take place between the prosecution and the defense in a criminal case in which the defendant normally is offered a lighter sentence or other benefits in return for a guilty plea.


A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.

punitive damage award

A financial payment that may be awarded to a plaintiff in a civil case to punish the defendant and deter similar conduct in the future.

tort reform

In civil law, a tort is a wrong or injury (other than a breach of contract). Tort reform is an effort to limit liability in tort cases.

victimless crime

A crime in which there does not appear to be a victim; a consensual crime. (Alternatively, the person breaking the law may be considered the primary victim.) Examples often cited include prostitution, gambling, and illegal drug possession.

writ of information

In criminal law, a formal accusation filed by a prosecutor against a party charged with a crime. It is an alternative to an indictment and does not involve a grand jury.

The settlement of disputes between private parties in matters such as contracts and domestic disputes is called

civil law.

The requirement of a prosecutor to convince a jury or judge that the defendant is guilty of a crime is called the

burden of proof.

Serious types of crime, such as murder, robbery, and burglary, are known as


Crimes such as gambling, prostitution, and drug possession are examples of

victimless crime.

A pretrial examination of some evidence to determine whether or not a case should go to trial is normally conducted by a

grand jury.

The best efforts of attorneys to influence a jury by presenting evidence and testimony is known as

the adversarial system.

Municipal courts were created to legally deal with cases involving

violations of city ordinances.

The governing bodies of the Texas counties are the

county courts-at-law.

Which court first receives automatic appeals in Texas death penalty cases?

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

Probably the most controversial issue with regard to judges in Texas is that of

campaign financing.

Capitalism is

an economic system marked by the private ownership of wealth-creating assets, free markets, and freedom of contract.

What are some weakness' of the Articles of Confederation?

Congress lacked the power to collect taxes directly from the people.
Each state had one vote regardless of size.
Congress lacked the power to coin money.
There was no executive branch.

Which powers belong only to the national government?

International treaties, setting up the postal service, and printing money

The incorporation theory

holds the view that most of the protections of the Bill of Rights apply to state and local governments' activities through the 14th Amendment.

The answers given by respondents to poll questions are influenced by all of the following

the possible range of answers to the questions presented.
a yes/no format that restricts the respondents' choices.
the order in which questions are asked.
poorly designed questions that tip respondents in a particular direction.

All of the following are techniques used by interest groups to involve the general public

getting people to boycott a business .
attempting to mobilize large numbers of constituents to write, phone, or send emails to their legislators
using demonstrations, rallies and marches.
commissioning polls and publicizing the results for the public to see.

During the last half-century, the Democrats have been known as the party of

well-educated, professional individuals..

The number of members each state will have in the electoral college

is determined by adding the number of representatives and the number of senators a state has in Congress.

Reapportionment is

the allocation of seats in the House to each state after each census

The president, in the capacity as head of state, is responsible for

engaging in activities that are largely symbolic or ceremonial in nature.

What are the four major types of structures within the executive branch?

Government corporations
Independent executive agencies
Cabinet departments
Independent regulatory agencies

A previous court decision which influences and is the basis for deciding later, similar cases is called

a precedent.

What are four problems with health care in the United States?

In 2008, more than 45 million Americans did not have health insurance.
Those uninsured pay higher fees than those covered by health insurance.
Average insurance benefits in 2009 cost more than $20,000 per year for each employee covered by employer health insurance.
For people with pre-existing conditions it has been nearly impossible to obtain health insurance at any price.

The doctrine of containment set forth by George F. Kennan

was expressed in the Truman Doctrine enunciated by President Harry Truman in 1947 and said that the United States should seek to contain Communist power within existing boundaries.

The first Republican since Reconstruction to win Texas' presidential electoral votes was

Dwight Eisenhower.

What is in the current Texas constitution?

separation of powers.
checks and balances.
limited government.

Which factor has contributed least to the influence of lobbyists over Texas legislators?

Strong public participation

The greatest problem that the Republican Party in Texas had to overcome was the

legacy of radical reconstruction.

Special elections in Texas are held for all of the following purposes,

conducting a run-off election.
filling a state legislative vacancy.
ratifying an amendment to the state constitution.

Which court first receives automatic appeals in Texas death penalty cases?

The Texas Court of Criminal Appeals

The procedure of having a justice of the peace review facts to decide if a criminal trial should be held is called

an examining trial

About what percent of Texas county judges are licensed attorneys?


The highest court of criminal appeals in Texas is the

Court of Criminal Appeals

A fundamental error in the conduct of a trial can result in a

declaration of a mistrial

How many justices sit on the Texas Supreme Court?


A listing of a court's case activity is formally called its


the term "original jurisdiction" pertains to a court being

the first authority to try a case

In Texas, the ratio of lawyers in the general population is approximately


Moving the site of a trial to another location is called

a change of venue

It is estimated that about 90% of state district court cases are resolved under a

plea bargain

The highest court of appeals in juvenile cases in Texas is the

Texas Supreme Court

Negotiations in which a defendant is offered a lighter sentence in exchange for a guilty pleas is known as

plea bargaining

Courts with the authority to review and revise the actions of lower courts have

appellate jurisdiction

About what percentage of judges in district courts, county courts-at-law, and probate courts first assume office through appointment to fill a vacancy?


The burden of proof standard used in civil cases is called

preponderance of the evidence

The violation and prosecution of statutory laws are examples of

criminal law

Juvenile cases are usually tried in a

state district court

Financial awards in civil cases to deter similar behavior in the future are known as

punitive damages

An additional county court created by the legislature with either criminal or civil jurisdiction is called a

county court-at-law

The intermediate level of appeals in the Texas judicial system would be the

court of appeals

Justices on the Texas Supreme Court are selected by

direct popular vote

What are true of the attacks of 9/11?

Americans were forced to change their views of national security
Americans still knew that regional conflicts in other parts of the world had no direct impact on the United States

What are true statements of the Second Gulf War?

Coalition forces put an immediate halt to looting and disorder in the country
The war began when the United States invaded Iraq in 2003
Establishing order and creating a new government in Iraq turned out to be extraordinarily difficult for the United States
President Bush decided to take unilateral action against Iraq

What is true in regard to Afghanistan?

Attacks by the US targeted both al Queda camps and the Taliban regime which had ruled most of Afghanistan since 1996

What are true statements of China and the United States?

there are large and growing trade ties between the US and China
China exports substantially more goods and services to the United States than it imports
instead of goods and services China has imported US bonds
Since 1972, American policy has hoped to gradually engage the Chinese in diplomatic and economic relationships to move China in a pro-Western direction

The internationally recognized solution to the Israeli-Palestinian dispute is that

Israel yields the West Bank and Gaza Strip to the Palestinians in return for security guarantees and Palestinian abandonment of any right of return to Israel proper

The State Department is

the executive agency that is most directly concerned with foreign affairs

One of the major outcomes of the Vietnam War was

a new interest in the balance of power between Congress and the president on foreign policy questions

True statements about the war in Vietnam

the war provoked extremely heated debate within the US society
at the height of the war Americans forces were about 500,000
a large scale American troop commitment began under President Lyndon B Johnson
the war ended in 1975 with a North Vietnamese victory

During the Cold War there was

no direct military conflict between the United States and the Soviet Union

Political realism is a philosophy that

sees each nation as acting in its own interest regardless of moral considerations

a majority of the population of Iraq is

Shiite Arab

In January 2006, ____ won a majority of the seats in the Palestinian legislature, an alarming development since it has called for the destruction of Israel.

the militant group Hamas

During the 1800's, the United States generally

stayed out of European conflicts and politics but pursued an expansionist policy in this hemisphere

The intelligence community does not include

Department of Defense

In 2003, President George W Bush enunciated a new foreign policy doctrine, the Bush Doctrine, which held, in part, that

the United States was prepared to wage preemptive war against perceived threats with or without allies

When President George W Bush was willing to work with India and Pakistan, both of which had been sharply criticized by the United States in recent years, in order to gain their cooperation in the war in Afghanistan, he drew on tradition

of political realism

North Korea

pulled back on its treaty obligations and in 2009 tested a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead

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