Court insiders call it a "Philadelphia special" a case that falls apart after both witnesses and cops fail to show up at trial. The nickname is telling, according to a four-part investigation by the Philadelphia Inquirer that began on Sunday. Looking at 31,000 criminal court cases filed in Philadelphia in 2006, 2007 and 2008, the paper found pervasive dysfunction within the city's court system , which "fails to punish violent crimes, dismisses thousands of cases without any decision on the merits, and has a growing pool of 47,000 fugitives."
Article III of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch as one of the three branches of federal government. The other two branches are the legislative and executive. Federal courts, the guardians of the Constitution, protect rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Congress, not the Courts, make laws. Federal courts resolve disputes by interpreting and applying laws. Only the President and executive branch departments and agencies have the power to enforce the laws. The courts do not have this power.
The US judicial power is vested in one supreme Court, and inferior Courts ordained and established by Congress. Intermediate appellate courts "courts of appeals," trial courts, and two special jurisdiction trial courts are established by Congress. Thirteen courts of appeals serving 12 geographic regions; and the Court of Appeals, a specialized appellate court of the Federal Circuit are organized in circuits.
Congress is responsible for the federal courts. Federal judges serve for life, unless removed by congressional impeachment.
US Federal Judiciary - 3 tiered hierarchy of courts.
The 94 US District Courts in 50 states and US dependent territories hear cases allowed under the Constitution and federal law where crimes violate federal laws or disputes between citizens of different states. Above the district courts; the 13 Circuit Courts of Appeal only hear district court appeals on issues of law and questions legal interpretation. Circuit Court rulings are appealed to the United States Supreme Court, the highest court of the land. The Supreme Court only accept cases of constitutional significance.
"United States (Government)," Microsoft Encarta Online Encyclopedia 2001 http://encarta.msn.com 1997-2000 Microsoft Corporation. All Rights Reserved.
Trial courts are organized by state and US territory judicial districts. Each judicial district includes a US bankruptcy court. The Court of International Trade and the US Court of Federal Claims are special trial courts.
Judges holding Office are to be held to the highest degree of integrity. They should be conscientious, fair, without influence by public praise, and indifferent to private, political, or partisan influences.
For more detailed information about the federal judicial system, organization, administration, and relationship to the legislative and executive branches of the government, consult Understanding the Federal Courts (1999)
Supreme Court Criminal Law Jurisprudence: Fair Trials, Cruel Punishment, and Ethical Lawyering—October 2009 Term
The PACER Service Center is the Federal Judiciary's centralized registration, billing, and technical support center for electronic access to U.S. District, Bankruptcy, and Appellate court records.
DeShaney v. Winnebago County Dept. of Social Services, argued in the Supreme Court is an introduction to the Socratic method in Constitutional Law.
Keeler v. Superior Court is an introduction to how the Socratic method works.
CNN Law Center - Court News
FindLaw A multi-faceted portal. Its comprehensive index links to resources in more than 30 practice areas. Beyond its index are an ever-growing library of free court opinions and statutory codes."
The real life world of prosecutors and defense lawyers. Boston district attorney's office high volume of criminal cases, and courtroom plea bargain. Part I follows prosecutors and defense attorneys through District Court where minor crimes are heard; Part II examines Superior Court and violent crimes
The Pro Bono Institute/Law Firm Pro Bono Project
Judicial Ethics - American Legal Ethics Library
THE MULTI-SITE ADULT DRUG COURT EVALUATION--The Justice Policy Center at the Urban Institute, RTI International, and the Center for Court Innovation conducted a multi-year, process, impact, and cost-benefit evaluation of drug court impact funded by the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). The objectives of NIJ’s Multi-Site Adult Drug Court Evaluation (MADCE) were to evaluate the effects of drug courts on substance use, crime, and other outcomes, and to illuminate which policies and practices, and which offender attitudes, are responsible for any positive effects that were detected.
Bill Moyers explores the concern that campaign contributions to judges corrupt the judicial system, threaten independence and the integrity of state judges. This investigation looks at state judges' decisions and judicial elections in Texas,Louisiana, and Pennsylvania with interviews with judges about the influence of money in the justice system.
The Pro Bono Institute/Law Firm Pro Bono Project
Conspiracy Against Rights -- Section 241 of Title 18 is the civil rights conspiracy statute that makes it unlawful for 2 or more persons to agree to injure, threaten, or intimidate a person in the free exercise any right or privilege secured by the Constitution or laws of the US. Section 241 does not require a conspirator to commit an overt act prior to the conspiracy becoming a crime. The offense is punishable by a up to a life term or the death penalty.
The Probate Pit -- A system designed to help Colorado's most fragile citizens plunges them into an upside-down world of justice as family members and guardians fight over finances and life decisions.
"Real Justice" -- Criminal courts in Fenway Park: Emergency room triage. Defenders, prosecutors, and judges alike work merely to process defendants through the system and make it to the end of the day.
Twisted ethics of an expert witness: Stuart Greenberg was: a renowned forensic psychologist and expert witness in child custody issues. His lies and destroyed lives.
Federal court may still allow junk statistics - Although federal courts attempt to eliminate the testimony of 'junk science' experts, testimony based on 'junk statistics' continue to be admissible. Such testimony has recently been endorsed by the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
A shooting took place during the FBI director's news conference in Wisconsin's Milwaukee County Safety Building housing the courtrooms, next to the police headquarters. After a 20-year-old defendant was found guilty of murder, he leapt across the defense table, grabbed the bailiff's revolver and fired it into the bailiff's abdominal area. The wound, was not life threatening. Another bailiff shot the defendant dead.
Eyewitness testimony -- Relies on the accuracy of human memory, but has an enormous impact on a trial.
Gavel-to-gavel coverage of the Senate Impeachment Trial
Death Penalty Decisions of the United States Supreme Court by Maureen Harrison, Steve Gilbert --This contains the actual text of the Supreme Court's most significant death penalty decisions, edited into plain, non-legal English.
How credible are child witnesses? Child Witness Cases
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