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Ch 8: The U.S. Court System: Help and Review

About This Chapter

The U.S. Court System chapter of this Intro to Criminal Justice Help and Review course is the simplest way to master an understanding of the U.S. court system. This chapter uses simple and fun videos that are about five minutes long, plus lesson quizzes and a chapter exam to ensure students learn the essentials of the U.S. court system.

Who's it for?

Anyone who needs help understanding introductory criminal justice material will benefit from taking this course. You will be able to grasp the subject matter faster, retain critical knowledge longer and earn better grades. You're in the right place if you:

  • Have fallen behind in understanding the federal, state or Supreme Court systems.
  • Need an efficient way to learn about the U.S. court systems.
  • Learn best with engaging auditory and visual tools.
  • Struggle with learning disabilities or learning differences, including autism and ADHD.
  • Experience difficulty understanding your teachers.
  • Missed class time and need to catch up.
  • Can't access extra criminal justice resources at school.

How it works:

  • Start at the beginning, or identify the topics that you need help with.
  • Watch and learn from fun videos, reviewing as needed.
  • Refer to the video transcripts to reinforce your learning.
  • Test your understanding of each lesson with short quizzes.
  • Submit questions to one of our instructors for personalized support if you need extra help.
  • Verify you're ready by completing the U.S. Court System chapter exam.

Why it works:

  • Study Efficiently: Skip what you know, review what you don't.
  • Retain What You Learn: Engaging animations and real-life examples make topics easy to grasp.
  • Be Ready on Test Day: Use the U.S. Court System chapter exam to be prepared.
  • Get Extra Support: Ask our subject-matter experts any relevant question. They're here to help!
  • Study With Flexibility: Watch videos on any web-ready device.

Students will review:

In this chapter, you'll learn the answers to questions including:

  • How do appellate, trial and the Supreme Court legal systems differ from each other?
  • What three levels are found in the federal court system?
  • What is the definition of long arm statute?
  • How do the courts exercise their jurisdiction over property and subject matter?
  • How do the courts establish venue for a case?
  • Who belongs to the courtroom work group?

52 Lessons in Chapter 8: The U.S. Court System: Help and Review
The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

1. The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

There are three separate levels of courts in our legal system, each serving a different function. Trial courts settle disputes as the first court of instance, appellate courts review cases moved up from trial courts and supreme courts hear cases of national importance or those appealed in the court of appeals.

The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

2. The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

The federal court system has three main levels: U.S. District Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Each level of court serves a different legal function for both civil and criminal cases.

Overview of the US Supreme Court

3. Overview of the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court justices reside over cases involving original jurisdiction under certain circumstances and appellate jurisdiction when a decision from a lower court involving constitutional law is at issue. Appellate cases require a writ of certiorari requesting permission to address this court.

State Court System: Structure & Overview

4. State Court System: Structure & Overview

There is no uniform structure to the State Court System. Each state has its own system but most states operate similarly to the Federal Court System in that there are several levels of courts including trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and supreme courts.

Long Arm Statute: Definition & Example

5. Long Arm Statute: Definition & Example

Long-arm statute refers to the jurisdiction a court has over out-of-state defendant corporations. International Shoe v. State of Washington was a landmark case that set precedent for establishing the right for government to use the long-arm statute to bring an action against a defendant corporation.

Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

6. Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts exercise two types of jurisdiction over cases: original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction for cases previously heard in a lower court. Judges have the option, when hearing an appeals case, to reverse or remand a decision based on a violation of law like abuse of discretion.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

7. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

One of the ways a court determines whether a case will be heard is based on subject matter jurisdiction. We will explore several factors that determine subject matter jurisdiction in state and federal courts, including concurrent subject matter jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

8. Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

In rem and quasi in rem jurisdiction give a court power over property. The court's power over the property can be used as leverage or as a means of satisfying a civil action against a defendant. The conditions that are required determine the court's ability to exercise both types of jurisdiction of property.

What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

9. What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court exercises a right to preside over specific cases and is considered the court of original jurisdiction based on subject-matter jurisdiction. It is considered an appellate court for cases involving constitutional law under certain circumstances.

How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

10. How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

Venue is the location where a civil or criminal case is decided. The venue is decided similarly in civil and criminal trials. However, the venue is decided differently in state and federal courts.

What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

11. What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

Original jurisdiction determines which court will hear a case first. In this article, we'll go over the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, federal courts, and state and local courts.

Administration of Justice: Definition & Overview

12. Administration of Justice: Definition & Overview

The administration of justice in the U.S. court system includes many divisions. All of these sections work together to ensure the bottom line of justice for all, and there are guidelines in place to reach that decisive goal.

Grievance in the Law: Definition, Procedure & Policy

13. Grievance in the Law: Definition, Procedure & Policy

A grievance is a harm or distress incurred by an individual or employee. In this lesson you will learn the definition of a grievance, what determines legal standing, and policies and procedures for addressing grievances.

The Gun Control Act of 1968

14. The Gun Control Act of 1968

In this lesson, we will discuss the Gun Control Act of 1968, including learning about why it was written and what is included within the law. We will also some of the related legislation which applies to this law.

Subpoena Duces Tecum: Definition & Example

15. Subpoena Duces Tecum: Definition & Example

In this lesson, we will learn about a special type of subpoena, or court order, called a subpoena duces tecum. We will define the concept and provide some examples of these subpoenas.

What is Contempt of Court? - Definition & Punishment

16. What is Contempt of Court? - Definition & Punishment

Contempt of court is the offense of being disobedient or disrespectful towards the court, its officers, or the proceedings of a court of law. This lesson discusses the definition, types, and punishments involved with this offense.

Hung Jury: Definition & Impact

17. Hung Jury: Definition & Impact

In this lesson, we will learn what happens when a jury is unable to reach a required consensus. We'll also explore what the next steps are in a case after there's a hung jury, and then you can take a quiz to measure your knowledge.

Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: Definition, Pros & Cons

18. Courts of Limited Jurisdiction: Definition, Pros & Cons

In this lesson, we will learn about the lowest form of trial court: courts of limited jurisdiction. We will discuss several types of these courts to better understand their role in the U.S. court system.

Trial De Novo: Definition & Examples

19. Trial De Novo: Definition & Examples

Trial de novo describes a form of appeal where a new trial is conducted. This lesson discusses the basic elements of a trial de novo, as well as common examples of trial de novo matters.

Bench Trial: Definition & Process

20. Bench Trial: Definition & Process

In this lesson, we will learn about the concept of a bench trial, which is a type of trial without a jury. We will contrast this with the idea of a jury trial in the American court system.

Prosecutorial Discretion: Definition, Pros & Cons

21. Prosecutorial Discretion: Definition, Pros & Cons

In this lesson, we will discuss the role of the prosecutor is in our legal system and how prosecutorial discretion comes into play. We'll talk about plea bargaining and offer some pros and cons to prosecutorial discretion.

What is a Bailiff? - Definition & Duties

22. What is a Bailiff? - Definition & Duties

Bailiffs are a staple in cop and legal dramas, but what exactly are bailiffs and what do they do? Learn the definition of a bailiff and read about a bailiff's typical duties.

Court of Last Resort: Definition & Types

23. Court of Last Resort: Definition & Types

The court of last resort is a legal term that refers to a court of final appeal in a jurisdiction. In simpler terms, it is the court of the highest authority. This lesson will provide an overview of the role, functions, and importance of this court.

Recognizance: Definition & Law

24. Recognizance: Definition & Law

In many circumstances it doesn't make sense for the criminal justice system to keep people in jail between their arrest and trial but instead release them on their own recognizance. Let's examine the definition and laws surrounding this option.

Burger Court: Definition & Cases

25. Burger Court: Definition & Cases

In this lesson, we will learn about the Supreme Court under Chief Justice Burger. We will identify the justices during his term and look at some of the major court decisions of the era.

Court Opinion: Types & Definition

26. Court Opinion: Types & Definition

In this lesson, we will learn about the important process of writing a court opinion. We will compare majority, concurring, plurality, and dissenting opinions, then you can test your newfound knowledge with a brief quiz.

Complainant: Meaning, Definition & Criminology

27. Complainant: Meaning, Definition & Criminology

In this lesson, you will understand what it means to be a complainant in criminal proceedings. You will know the definition of a complainant as it applies to a person and the state.

Courts of General Jurisdiction: Definition & Trial Process

28. Courts of General Jurisdiction: Definition & Trial Process

Courts of general jurisdiction are the entry point for many cases in the American legal system. In this lesson, we will learn about the structure and function of these courts as well as review how a case moves through criminal and civil court.

Amicus Curiae Briefs: Definition & Example

29. Amicus Curiae Briefs: Definition & Example

After you finish this lesson, you will have an understanding of amicus curiae briefs and why these briefs are filed. Moreover, you will analyze an example to gain additional insight into amicus curiae briefs.

Grand Jury: Definition, Process & Purpose

30. Grand Jury: Definition, Process & Purpose

After completing this lesson, you will understand what role a grand jury plays in criminal and civil law. Moreover, you will review the purpose of a grand jury to gain insight into how the grand jury makes decisions.

Mootness: Legal Definition & Doctrine

31. Mootness: Legal Definition & Doctrine

What does it mean when an issue is declared moot, and why can it have such major consequences for a court case? Learn the basics of mootness and how the concept is connected to the U.S. Constitution.

Precedent: Definition, Law & Examples

32. Precedent: Definition, Law & Examples

After you complete this lesson, you will understand what constitutes legal precedent. Moreover, you will examine the law and examples in order to gain a thorough understanding of precedent.

Quid Pro Quo: Legal Definition & Examples

33. Quid Pro Quo: Legal Definition & Examples

This lesson will teach you what constitutes quid pro quo. You will learn the legal definition of the phrase. Thereafter, you will examine several examples to gain a greater understanding of what is meant by quid pro quo.

Warren Court: Definition, Cases & Decisions

34. Warren Court: Definition, Cases & Decisions

In this lesson, we'll examine the Warren Court and see some of the cases and decisions that were made during that time. There will be a quiz at the end of the lesson.

What Is a Court Trial? - Definition, Process & Rules

35. What Is a Court Trial? - Definition, Process & Rules

In this lesson, we'll define a court trial, discuss the process, and look at the general rules of a court trial. After this lesson, you can check your knowledge with a quiz.

What Is a Default Judgment? - Definition & Sample

36. What Is a Default Judgment? - Definition & Sample

After you complete this lesson, you will have an understanding of what constitutes a default judgment. Moreover, you will review a sample and look at the circumstances where a default judgment may be reversed.

What Is the Court of Appeals? - Definition, Jurisdiction & Decisions

37. What Is the Court of Appeals? - Definition, Jurisdiction & Decisions

This lesson discusses both the courts of appeals at the state level and the U.S. Federal Court of Appeals. You will learn what a court of appeals is, how various courts are structured, what they govern, and how they make decisions.

Writ of Certiorari: Definition & Example

38. Writ of Certiorari: Definition & Example

This lesson will teach you about what it takes to have a case heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. You will review what constitutes a writ of certiorari. In addition to understanding this legal term, you'll also review an example.

In Rem Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

39. In Rem Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

For a court to hear a case it must have jurisdiction over all parties and the items involved. In this lesson we will learn the meaning of in rem jurisdiction and how it applies to a court's authority to hear a case.

In Personam Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

40. In Personam Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

A court must have authority over a case before it renders a legally binding judgment. In this case, we will learn about in personam jurisdiction and what that means to a court's authority.

Supplemental Jurisdiction: Statute & Examples

41. Supplemental Jurisdiction: Statute & Examples

Federal courts' jurisdiction over disputes that arise between state citizens is limited by the U.S. Constitution and federal statutes. Supplemental jurisdiction expands those limits, and in this lesson, we will explore just how that works.

Federal Question Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

42. Federal Question Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

Federal question jurisdiction is the authority of a federal trial court to hear cases involving two parties who have a controversy involving federal law or the U.S. Constitution. In this lesson we will explain what that means and provide everyday examples.

General vs. Specific Jurisdiction

43. General vs. Specific Jurisdiction

In this lesson, you will learn the differences between courts of general and specific jurisdiction, and each will be broken down individually. Upon completion of this lesson, you should have a better understanding of both types of jurisdiction.

Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: Definition & International Law

44. Extraterritorial Jurisdiction: Definition & International Law

The legal and territorial boundaries of a nation usually are fairly well defined; however, extraterritorial jurisdiction allows those boundaries to extend in certain circumstances. In this lesson, we will look at the definition of extraterritorial jurisdiction and how it applies to international law.

Police Jurisdiction: Definition & Laws

45. Police Jurisdiction: Definition & Laws

In this lesson, you will understand what police jurisdiction is and how it pertains to different law enforcement agencies. You will learn the difference between territorial and subject matter jurisdiction and how they relate to policing.

What is Concurrent Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

46. What is Concurrent Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

Concurrent jurisdiction means that two different courts have the authority to hear the same case. In this lesson we will explore the definition in more detail and look at some examples.

Universal Jurisdiction in International Law: Definition & Cases

47. Universal Jurisdiction in International Law: Definition & Cases

In this lesson we will be learning about the concept of universal jurisdiction and how it differs from national jurisdiction. We will also be looking at cases that illustrate the concept.

Diversity Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

48. Diversity Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

When can you make a federal case out of it? In this lesson, we will learn how diversity jurisdiction allows a legal matter between two citizens to wind up in a federal courthouse.

Removal Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

49. Removal Jurisdiction: Definition & Examples

In this lesson, you will learn about removal jurisdiction, including when it is applicable, and why it occurs. Example cases will be provided to enhance understanding of the topic.

Discretionary Jurisdiction: Definition & Cases

50. Discretionary Jurisdiction: Definition & Cases

Appellate courts often have discretionary jurisdiction to review cases presented to them for review. In this lesson we will look at the reason behind discretionary review and how that affects our judicial system.

Temporary Guardianship of a Child: Laws & Examples

51. Temporary Guardianship of a Child: Laws & Examples

In this lesson, you will learn more about temporary guardianship of a minor; this includes types of temporary guardianship. You will also learn some of the reasons behind a person's decision to seek temporary guardianship of a child.

What is a Bench Warrant? - Definition & Statute of Limitations

52. What is a Bench Warrant? - Definition & Statute of Limitations

What happens to a person that does not show up for a scheduled court date? This lesson will explain how a bench warrant is used, the statue of limitations, and provide examples.

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