Millsap Pols 2312: Ch 8 The Judicial System
Federal courts have been leaders in __________.
- protecting civil and political liberties
- establishing traffic violations
- implementing the death penalty
- defining terms for the medicinal use of marijuana
Most criminal activities are defined and their punishments established in the __________.
- Civil Code
- Jurisprudence Code
- Penal Code
- Hammurabi Code
Even minor disputes in lower courts can be costly and time-consuming because __________.
- there are so few courthouses and people typically have to drive a long way to get to one
- they often require professional assistance from a lawyer
- budget cuts in the federal government have led to staff reductions in judges’ offices
- most decisions reached in courts go through so many appeals before ever being fully resolved
The authority of a court to try or resolve a civil lawsuit or a felony prosecution being heard for the first time is known as __________.
- appellate jurisdiction
- original jurisdiction
- supreme jurisdiction
- bifurcated jurisdiction
Texas has a bifurcated court system at its highest level in which __________.
- federal cases are heard by the Texas Supreme Court and state cases are heard by the Court of Criminal Appeals
- the Texas Supreme Court has only original jurisdiction and the Court of Criminal Appeals has only appellate jurisdiction
- the Texas Supreme Court establishes and defines misdemeanors and the Court of Criminal Appeals establishes and defines felonies
- the Texas Supreme Court handles civil cases and the Court of Criminal Appeals handles criminal cases
Unlike federal judges, who are appointed by the president to life terms, state judges in Texas, except for those on municipal courts, are __________.
- appointed by the governor for specific terms
- selected by the state legislature for 10-year terms
- chosen by the Judicial Selection Committee of the Texas Bar Association
- elected to limited terms in partisan elections
__________ typically handle cases concerning things such as traffic tickets.
- The county court-at-law and municipal courts
- Municipal and statutory county courts
- Justice of the peace and municipal courts
- District and appellate courts
Most municipal courts and justice of the peace courts __________.
- are not courts of record
- are presided over by judges appointed by the governor
- have mostly appellate jurisdiction
- only deal with civil cases
Why did Texas create constitutional county courts?
- They were created by the legislature over the years to supplement the statutory county courts, in the process assuming responsibility over criminal cases.
- They were created by the Texas Constitution to serve the needs of the sparsely populated rural society that existed in Texas then.
- They were created by legislative order in 1954 to relieve the pressure from justice of the peace and municipal courts that had become overburdened with cases.
- They were created to provide a judicial branch at the county level in every county when Texas reorganized its counties in the early 1900s.
Constitutional county courts __________.
- exist in approximately 40 percent of Texas counties
- are each led by a county judge who is constitutionally required to be a lawyer
- were established in the 1930s to cope with increasing regulatory responsibilities coming from the federal government
- often share some original jurisdiction in civil matters with justice of the peace and district courts
What characterizes statutory county courts?
- Judges on these courts are selected by county commissioners.
- The constitution establishes one statutory county court in each county.
- They have inconsistent jurisdictions because each one was set up to deal with specific local problems.
- Determinations reached by these courts cannot be appealed to any higher court as they involve issues of county level legal codes.
The primary trial court in Texas is the __________.
- court of appeals
- municipal court
- justice of the peace court
- district court
A plea bargain results when the defendant negotiates __________.
- to testify against individuals in exchange for charges against him or her being dropped
- with the judge in a case to exercise pity in issuing a sentence recommendation to the jury
- with prosecutors to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence than he or she might receive if convicted in a trial
- with the governor to issue a pardon of his or her convicted crime
Intermediate courts of appeals __________.
- all have nine justices that hear all the cases brought before the court
- are the primary trial courts in Texas
- have original jurisdiction over most civil disputes involving less than $50,000
- are generally organized by geographical area of the state
The framers of the Texas Constitution of 1876 created separate courts of last resort for civil and criminal cases __________.
- to fragment political power and decentralize the structure of government
- in an effort to slow down the judicial process
- to follow the example of the federal government and other states
- so they would have more positions on the highest courts to which they could be appointed
What is the primary purpose of the Texas Supreme Court?
- to decide on civil and criminal appeals and oversee the State Bar exam
- to decide on the constitutionality of legislation produced by the legislature
- to decide on civil appeals and develop administrative procedures for state courts
- to handle cases that involve the government and one or more parties
Both the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals __________.
- have original jurisdiction over any cases in which an elected official is a party in the case
- have nine justices who are elected for six-year staggered terms
- have all of their decisions automatically reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court
- handle both civil and criminal cases
In what way does the district attorney (DA) exercise considerable power in the criminal justice process?
- Because DAs are appointed by the governor, their work in the criminal justice system can be an extension of the governor’s policy on crime.
- The DA can postpone a criminal trial indefinitely at any time until the state can bring enough evidence to get a conviction.
- The DA decides which cases to take to a grand jury for an indictment and whether to seek the maximum penalty for an offense.
- Not only do DAs prosecute felonies, but they are also in charge of the state prisons within their districts
Grand juries __________.
- tend to overrepresent minority interests
- make determinations on the innocence or guilt of defendants
- must meet in public with an attorney present for the accused
- are responsible for reviewing evidence and deciding whether to indict individuals
Petit juries __________.
- are responsible for reviewing evidence and deciding whether to indict individuals
- are the juries for which most people are likely to be called on to serve
- meet in private to consider information presented them by a prosecuting attorney
- always have a minimum of 15 people
Convicting a defendant on a felony charge in Texas __________.
- requires a unanimous jury verdict
- requires the judge to agree with a jury’s decision
- requires a preponderance of evidence of potential guilt
- is most often the responsibility of grand juries
Cases reach the Texas Supreme Court primarily on __________.
- petitions for review
- writs of mandamus
- petitions for acceptance
- de novo writs
The Texas Supreme Court __________.
- must hear all cases appealed to it from lower courts
- holds oral arguments in cases in private with only lawyers for the two sides allowed to be present
- has significant discretion over what cases it will consider
- will only hear an appeal from a lower court if all justices on the court agree to hear the appeal
When a case reaches an appellate court __________.
- judges and a jury start a de novo trial
- the jury provides an opinion to help the judges determine the innocence or guilt of a defendant
- judges can overturn the decisions of lower courts as long as they get a majority vote from the original jurists to do so
- judges review the case to determine if the lower courts conformed to constitutional and statutory law
What is the purpose of writs of mandamus on which the Texas Supreme Court sometimes acts?
- It is to remedy defects in justice by ordering lower courts or public officials to take a certain action.
- It offers an explanation as to why the Court has decided not to hear a case appealed to it.
- They are used to stop a case from being heard in a lower court and to transfer it to a higher court.
- They are decrees ordering the legislature to strike down unconstitutional laws.
Most of the minorities who have served on the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals __________.
- overwhelmingly won statewide elections to gain their seats
- were originally appointed by the governor to fill midterm vacancies
- were selected by the Judicial Commission to follow affirmative action policies
- have been Native Americans
What effect did League of United Latin American Citizens et al. v. Mattox et al. have on the Texas judicial system?
- The Court determined that because minority voting power is diluted in statewide elections, Texas had to divide the state into eight districts for electing associate justices of the Texas Supreme Court and the Court of Criminal Appeals.
- It required the governor to consider race and ethnicity as a factor when appointing judges to vacancies.
- Although the Court ruled against the minority plaintiffs, the publicity of the case has led to the election of Hispanics to high-level Texas courts in proportion to their share of the state’s population.
- It resulted in little change, and Texas judges for district courts in urban areas are still elected on a countywide basis
Prior to the 1970s, how did most justices interpret the law in Texas?
- Justices acted primarily as judicial activists who believed they, and not the legislature, should set policy and that the role of the courts should not be narrowly interpreted.
- Most justices saw themselves as defenders of the lower classes and were actively involved in increasing the powers of the courts and setting policy.
- Establishment justices viewed themselves as strict constructionists who honored case law and legal precedent while typically favoring corporations.
- Justices viewed themselves as protectors of the common citizen and active promoters of consumer interests
Why did the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct publicly sanction Texas Supreme Court Justices C. L. Ray and William Kilgarlin in June 1987?
- They had assisted several county officials, including two commissioners and a sheriff, in covering up evidence from a whistle-blower case.
- They were found to have dismissed evidence that was detrimental to several of their cases and of delivering verdicts based on personal beliefs rather than on civil law.
- They were found to have blackmailed several attorneys to misrepresent clients in cases where it was feared the state would lose.
- They were found to have solicited funds from attorneys and to have had improper contact with attorneys practicing before the court.
Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice John L. Hill resigned from the court in 1988 to advocate for a merit selection plan that would __________.
- establish standardized application procedures for individuals applying to serve as justices on the court
- allow the governor to appoint justices to the court who would then have to run in retention elections to keep their seats
- give the Texas Bar Association the power to approve or disapprove justices elected by the people
- provide the judiciary committees in the two chambers of the legislature the authority to select justices
In 1998, the Republican Party won __________ seats on the Texas Supreme Court.
- the majority of the
- all of the
- none of the
Legislation enacted in 1987 aimed at bringing about tort reform attempted __________.
- to put some limits on personal injury lawsuits and damage judgments entered by the courts
- to place limits on campaign contributions that could be donated to judges by corporations
- to put limits on the number of years a judge could serve in a particular court
- to increase the amount of transparency concerning the appointment of judges in district courts
In reports issued in 1999, 2008, and 2012, Texas Watch, a consumer advocacy group, __________.
- found that the Texas Supreme Court consistently ruled in favor of consumers over business-related litigants
- argued that the continuation of partisan elections for Texas Supreme Court justices was the only way to ensure fairness in court rulings
- concluded that the Republican justices on the Texas Supreme Court were as activist as earlier Democratic justices, just with a different viewpoint
- found no relationship between campaign contributions and rulings by the Texas Supreme Court
What benefits are offered by a nonpartisan election system for judges, which some advocate be used in Texas?
- It would move the judiciary away from judicial activism and instead promote the election of judges based on merit rather than their philosophy.
- It would guard against partisan bickering on the multimember appellate courts and eliminate the possibility of a poorly qualified candidate being swept into office by straight-ticket voting.
- It would allow the governor to appoint judges from lists of nominees recommended by nominating committees, and later the voters could decide whether they should remain in office.
- It would prevent the possibility of corruption by forcing judicial candidates to fund their own campaigns, essentially protecting them from the influence of contributor money
If stricter limits were placed on campaign funds that judicial candidates could raise from lawyers and special interests, which of the following would be the most likely result?
- increasing public awareness and the casting of more informed votes in judicial races
- eliminating activist tendencies of elected judges
- increasing the probability of minorities winning judicial elections
- improving public confidence in the impartiality of the judiciary
Under both the U.S. and Texas Constitutions, a person charged with a crime is presumed __________.
- guilty until proven innocent by an appointed attorney
- innocent until the state can prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt to a judge or jury
- innocent until the state can prove reasonable guilt to a judge or jury
- guilty until the defendant convinces a jury of innocence beyond a shadow of doubt
Under the __________ ruling, police are required by the courts to inform us of our rights.
- reasonable suspicion
- full disclosure
- defendant protection
Following the completion of the Republican takeover of the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals in 1998, that court __________.
- began ruling more frequently in favor of prosecutors
- increased the rate at which it overturned death sentences
- expanded its jurisdiction to include civil cases involving claims of more than $1 million
- ruled that Texas’s method of execution in death penalty cases must be changed from the electric chair to lethal injection
What was the result of the Texas Supreme Court ruling in the 1989 Edgewood school case?
- It ordered basic changes in the financing of public K–12 education in order to provide more equity between rich and poor school districts.
- It ruled that schools could pump as much water as they wanted from wells located on school property.
- It ordered an increase in hiring of minorities through a quota system that would allow for greater diversity among school staff.
- It ruled that public K–12 schools could no longer allow prayer or discussion of religion in a classroom as it violated the principle of separation of church and state.
The Texas Supreme Court ruling in the 1998 Operation Rescue-National v. Planned Parenthood of Houston and Southeast Texas, Inc. __________.
- overturned the state law prohibiting state funds from being used for medically necessary abortions
- defined life as beginning at inception, thereby making abortion subject to criminal prosecution as murder
- upheld restrictions of a lower court on demonstrations near abortion clinics and the homes of doctors who performed abortions
- overturned a series of restrictions ( including “informed consent” and parental approval for minors) on abortions enacted by the state legislature