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Structure of the Court System

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An area of authority or control; the right to administer justice.
trial courts
courts that determine the facts and apply the law to the facts
Original Jurisdiction
Types of cases that are commonly heard for the first time at the level in the court structure
questions of fact
questions relating to what happened: who, what, when, where and how
question of law
questions relating to the interpretation or application of the law
bench trial
a trial conducted without a jury
appellate courts
courts that determine whether lower courts have made errors of law
the party in a case who has initiated an appeal
the party in a case against whom an appeal has been filed
harmless error
a trial court error that is not sufficient to warrant reversing the decision
Appellate court changing the verdict of the lower court.
Appellate court sends the case back to the lower court for action, with instructions on some point of law.
Majority Opinion
A court opinion reflecting the views of the majority of the judges
Concurring Opinion
Judges who agree with the majority opinion but for reasons different from those who support the majority opinion.
Dissenting Opinion
In a trail or appeal, the written opinion of a minority of judges who disagree with the majority.
U.S. Supreme Court
the highest federal appellate court, consisting of 9 appointed members
U.S. Court of Appeals
One of 11 federal courts that hear appeals from the U.S. District Courts.
U.S. district courts
the general jurisdiction trial courts in the federal system
General Jurisdiction
Refers to a court that can hear any type of controversy and award any amount of money.
Limited Jurisdiction
Refers to a court that cannot hear all types of controversy and is limited as to how much money it can award a party.
A legal document summoning someone to court as a witness
Writ of Certiorari
Order by the Supreme Court directing a lower court to send up the records of a case for review.
En banc
Opinion in where all judges sit on the bench
exclusive jurisdiction
when only one court has the power to hear a case
concurrent jurisdiction
when more than one court has jurisdiction to hear a case
federal question jurisdiction
the power of the federal courts to hear matters of federal law
Diversity Jurisdiction
Federal courts have authority if parties are citizens of different states and over $75,000 is in dispute.
the transfer of a case from state court to federal court