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The American Court Structure
The Federal Courts
The State Courts
Purposes of Courts
Key Actors in the Court Process
The Defense Attorney
From Arrest Through Initial Appearance
Bail and Other Methods of Pretrial Release
The Criminal Trial
The Trial Process
I Learning Objectives
L After completing this chapter, you should be able to:
E 1. Identify the type of court structure in the United
States, and describe its various components.
, 2. Summarize the purposes of courts.
3. Identify the most powerful actors in the administration
of justice, and explain what makes them so powerful.
4. Summarize the types of attorneys available to a person
charged with a crime.
A 5. Describe the responsibilities of a judge.
N 6. Describe the purposes of an initial appearance.
N 7. Explain what bail is, and describe the different methO
ods of pretrial release.
N 8. Deﬁne grand jury, and explain its purposes.
9. Describe the purposes of the arraignment and the plea
options of defendants.
9 10. Describe the interests served and not served by plea
11. List and deﬁne the stages in a criminal trial.
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Chapter 8 The Administration of Justice
n December 10, 2010, in a federal
courtroom in Salt Lake City, Brian
David Mitchell (pictured) was con-
victed of transporting a minor across
state lines for sexual exploitation and
interstate kidnapping. Mitchell was sentenced to life in prison on May 25, 2011.
His victim was Elizabeth Smart, now 23,
who in 2002 had been taken from her
bedroom at knifepoint and held captive
for nine months before being rescued.
Smart, who was 14 years old at the time
of her abduction, was subjected to sexual and mental torture that included
repeated rapes, forced consumption of
drugs, and frequent threats on her life.
The jury in Mitchell’s ﬁve-week trial
rejected his legal defense that he was
insane and not responsible for his crime.
Prosecuting attorneys believe the
case hinged on Smart’s brave testimony
that spanned three days. The U.S.
Attorney for Utah commented, “That
young woman had the ability and willingness to recall the graphic details of
the nine-month captivity. She did it with
candor and clarity and truthfulness that
I think moved all of us and gave a very
powerful and credible story. She is a
remarkable young woman.”
During her testimony, Smart portrayed Mitchell as a cruel religious
zealot obsessed with sex. She called
Mitchell selﬁsh and a “hypocrite” who
raped her at every chance he got even
while proclaiming himself to be God’s
servant. Smart testiﬁed that during her
captivity Mitchell told her that if the
police caught them “he knew he would
go to prison.” He also told her that she
forcibly medicated with anti-psychotic
and the other wives would testify on his
medications; in the fall of 2009, doctors
behalf. Smart was forced to “marry”
at Utah State Hospital said Barzee was
Mitchell in an impromptu ceremony
competent to stand trial. That pro-
shortly after the kidnapping. Mitchell
nouncement prompted plea negotia-
said that he would be released, and
tions with state and federal
“he would be killed and lie dead in the
prosecutors. As part of the plea agree-
street for three days and then he would
ment, Barzee agreed to testify against
be resurrected and he would go on to
proclaimed prophet, was frequently
removed from L
the courtroom because
he would breakEinto song. As the verdict was read, Mitchell sang religious
hymns loudly while his lawyer tried to
silence him. Following the verdict,
Mitchell. Barzee will likely be held at
ﬁght the Anti-Christ.” Mitchell, a self-
the Federal Medical Center in Fort
Smart remarked, “I hope this will give
jury correct in rejecting Mitchell’s
hope to other victims
S who have not
insanity defense? Should Smart have
spoken out about what has happened
example that justice can be served in
N it is possible to move
America, but that
on after something
N terrible has
Mitchell’s wife and accomplice,
Wanda Barzee, now 64, pleaded guilty
testiﬁed on her own behalf? Should
to them. I hope that this is not only an
Mitchell have been removed from
to federal kidnapping charges and
cated with anti-psychotic medica-
of a minor
tions? Were the doctors correct in
across state lines. In May 2010, in
federal court, she was sentenced to
9 of up to 15 years in
prison. Smart T
testiﬁed that Barzee was
jealous of the attention Mitchell gave
deeming Barzee competent to stand
back-to-back hearings in state and
trial, while on the anti-psychotic medi-
her and became angry when Mitchell
medical center and treated for men-
begged Smart for sex. Barzee’s seven-
tal illness? Should Mitchell also be
year legal process was delayed several
sentenced to a federal medical center
times because she was deemed
for the same reason? Was justice
incompetent to stand trial and refused
served in these cases? These ques-
medication because of her religious
tions and their answers show the
beliefs. However, in 2006, Third District
complicated nature of administering
Judge Judith Atherton ordered Barzee
justice in the United States.
Worth, Texas, where she can be treated
for mental illness.
Chapter 8 is about the administration of justice. The Mitchell and
Barzee cases raise several issues
about the justice process. Was the
the courtroom for being disorderly?
How could he exercise his Sixth
Amendment right to confront witnesses
against him if he was not in the courtroom? Was Judge Atherton correct
in ordering Barzee to be forcibly medi-
cations? Should Barzee have been
offered a plea bargain in exchange
for her testimony against Mitchell?
Should Barzee be conﬁned in a federal
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Part Three The Courts
The American Court Structure
dual court system The court system
in the United States, consisting of one
system of state and local courts and
another system of federal courts.
jurisdiction The authority of a court to
hear and decide cases.
original jurisdiction The authority of
a court to hear a case when it is ﬁrst
brought to court.
appellate jurisdiction The power of a
court to review a case for errors of law.
general jurisdiction The power of a
court to hear any type of case.
special jurisdiction The power of a
court to hear only certain kinds of cases.
subject matter jurisdiction The power
of a court to hear a particular type of
personal jurisdiction A court’s authority over the parties to a lawsuit.
The Judicial Conference
of the United States
The Judicial Conference of the United
States governs the federal court system.
The conference is composed of 27 federal
judges and is presided over by the Chief
Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court. The
conference meets twice a year to consider
policies affecting the federal courts, to
make recommendations to Congress on
legislation affecting the judicial system, to
propose amendments to the federal rules
of practice and procedure, and to address
administrative problems of the courts.
Source: Administrative Ofﬁce of the U.S. Courts,
Federal Judiciary website, www.uscourts.gov
The United States has a dual court system—a separate judicial system for each
of the states and a separate federal system. Figure 8.1 displays this dual court
system and routes of appeal from the various courts. The only place where the
two systems connect is in the U.S. Supreme Court.
The authority of a court to hear and decide cases is called the court’s jurisdiction. It is set by law and is limited by territory and type of case. A court
of original jurisdiction has the authority to hear a case when it is ﬁrst brought
to court. Courts having the power to review a case for errors of law are courts
of appellate jurisdiction. Courts having the power to hear any type of case are
said to exercise general jurisdiction. Those with the power to hear only certain
types of cases have special jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction is the
court’s power to hear a particular type of case. Personal jurisdiction is the
court’s authority over the parties to a lawsuit.
THE FEDERAL COURTSM
The authority for the federal court system is the U.S. Constitution, Article III,
Section 1, which states, L
“The judicial Power of the United States, shall be
vested in one Supreme Court, and in such inferior courts as the Congress may
E establish.” The federal court system includes the
from time to time ordain and
Supreme Court, the federal
S courts of appeals, and the federal district courts.
The federal court structure is shown in Figure 8.2.
U.S. District Courts Forming the base of the federal court structure are the U.S.
district courts. These are courts of original jurisdiction, or courts where most
S and civil law are ﬁrst adjudicated. Today, there are
violations of federal criminal
94 district courts divided into 13 circuits, with at least one federal district court
in each state, one each in the District of Columbia and the commonwealths of
Puerto Rico and the Northern
A Mariana Islands, and one each in the U.S. territories of the Virgin Islands and Guam. In some states, the courts are divided into
N York, for example, has northern, eastern, southern,
districts geographically. New
and western district courts.
Dual Court System of the United
Federal Court System
Supreme Court of
the United States 0
Circuit Courts of AppealsT
State Court System
Appellate Court of Last Resort
(usually called Supreme Court)
Intermediate Courts of Appeals
(not in all states)
Trial Courts of General Jurisdiction
(variously called district, superior,
common pleas, or circuit courts)
Trial Courts of Limited Jurisdiction
(variously called circuit, common pleas,
justice, district, or magistrate courts)
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Chapter 8 The Administration of Justice
The Federal Court Structure
U.S. Supreme Court
U.S. Courts of Appeals
94 District Courts
for Guam, Virgin
U.S. Court of Appeals
Two factors determine the jurisdiction of federal district courts: the subject
matter of a case and the parties to a case. Federal district
N courts have subject
matter jurisdiction over cases that involve federal laws, treaties with foreign
nations, or interpretations of the Constitution. Cases involving
admiralty or maritime law—the law of the sea, including ships, their N
crews, and disputes over
actions and rights at sea—also come under federal district court jurisdiction.
Federal district courts have personal jurisdiction in cases if certain parties
or persons are involved. These include (1) ambassadors
1 and other representatives of foreign governments, (2) two or more state governments, (3) the U.S.
9 of different states, (5) a
government or one of its ofﬁces or agencies, (4) citizens
state and a citizen of a different state, (6) citizens of the same state claiming
lands under grants of different states, and (7) a state or its citizens and a foreign
country or its citizens.
U.S. district courts are presided over by district court judges who are
T and, except for the
appointed by the president, are conﬁrmed by the Senate,
territorial judges who serve 10-year terms, serve for life
S (if they choose, do not
resign, or are not impeached and convicted by Congress). In 2010, there were
667 authorized federal district judgeships (including 10 temporary judgeships).
Several district courts, such as the district court of eastern Oklahoma, had only
one judge; the southern-district court of New York in New York City had the
most with 28.1 The annual salary of a U.S. district court judge is $174,000 (as
of year-end 2010).2
Usually a single federal judge presides over a trial, and trial by jury is
allowed if requested by a defendant. Some complex civil cases are heard by a
special panel of three judges. The bulk of the workload of the U.S. district
courts is devoted to civil cases, the number of which has risen dramatically in
recent years, to 282,895 in 2010.3 Federal criminal cases involve such crimes
as bank robbery, counterfeiting, mail fraud, kidnapping, and civil rights abuses.
of Military Appeals
Air Force, and
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Part Three The Courts
Code of Conduct for United States Judges
A Judge Should Uphold the Integrity and Independence of the Judiciary
A Judge Should Avoid Impropriety and the Appearance of Impropriety in
A Judge Should Perform the Duties of the Ofﬁce Impartially and Diligently
A Judge May Engage in Extra-Judicial Activities to Improve the Law, the Legal
System, and the Administration of Justice
A Judge Should Regulate Extra-Judicial Activities to Minimize the Risk of
Conﬂict with Judicial Duties
A Judge Should Regularly File Reports of Compensation Received for
Law-Related and Extra-Judicial Activities
A Judge Should Refrain from Political Activity
The Code of Conduct for UnitedIStates Judges was initially adopted by the Judicial Conference
on April 5, 1973, and was known as the “Code of Judicial Conduct for United States Judges.”
L Conference deleted the word “Judicial” from the name
At its March 1987 session, the Judicial
of the Code. Substantial revisions
Eto the Code were adopted by the Judicial Conference at its
September 1992 session. This Code applies to United States Circuit Judges, District Judges,
S Court of Federal Claims Judges, Bankruptcy Judges, and
Court of International Trade Judges,
Magistrate Judges. Certain provisions of this Code apply to special masters and commissioners.
In addition, the Tax Court, Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, and Court of Appeals for the
Armed Forces have adopted this Code. Persons to whom the Code applies must arrange their
affairs as soon as reasonably possible to comply with the Code and should do so in any event
within one year of appointment.
Federal Judge Impeached
For only the eighth time in U.S. history, a
federal judge was removed through the
impeachment process. In December 2010,
the Senate convicted U.S. District Judge
G. Thomas Porteous of corruption and
perjury for lying during the appointment
process. As a Louisiana state judge,
Porteous had accepted gifts from lawyers
and friends to pay gambling debts—a
fact that he never denied. Porteous is the
ﬁrst federal judge removed from ofﬁce
for pre-federal conduct.
Source: Michael E. Memoli, “Senate Votes to
Remove Louisiana Federal Judge,” The Orlando
Sentinel, December 9, 2010, A7.
Source: Administrative Ofﬁce of the U.S.A
Courts, Federal Judiciary website, “Judges and Judgeships,” www.uscourts
Until 1980, the number of
Ncriminal cases in federal district courts remained
relatively stable at about 30,000 a year. However, as a result of the federal
O and an increase in illegal immigration cases, the
government’s war on drugs
number of criminal cases had
N more than doubled to 78,428 by the end of 2010.
The 78,428 criminal cases represented a 2% increase from 2009. About 20%
of the criminal cases ﬁled in U.S district courts in 2010 were drug cases, and
about 36% were immigration cases.4
To ease the caseload of U.S. district court judges, Congress created the judicial
ofﬁce of federal magistrate 9
in 1968. The title changed to magistrate judge in 1990.
As their caseloads require and as funding from Congress permits, district judges
0 to part-time or full-time positions. Magistrate
may appoint magistrate judges
judges handle civil consent9cases, misdemeanor trials, preliminary hearings, pretrial motions and motion hearings, and conferences in felony cases.5 The behavT is governed by a code of conduct, presented in
ior of most United States judges
Circuit Courts of Appeals A person or group that loses a case in district court
may appeal to a federal circuit court of appeals or, in some instances, directly to
the Supreme Court. Congress created the U.S. circuit courts of appeals in 1891 to
reduce the case burden of the Supreme Court. The U.S. circuit courts of appeals
have only appellate jurisdiction and review a case for errors of law, not of fact.
Most appeals arise from the decisions of district courts, the U.S. Tax Court, and
various territorial courts (see Figure 8.2). Federal courts of appeals also hear appeals of the rulings of regulatory agencies, such as the Federal Trade Commission.
An appeal to the U.S. circuit court of appeals is a matter of right—the court cannot refuse to hear the case. However, unless appealed to the Supreme Court,
decisions of the courts of appeals are ﬁnal. U.S. courts of appeals heard 55,992
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Chapter 8 The Administration of Justice
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco, California L
(pictured here), has the most
judges (29) of all the circuit courts of appeals. What determines how many judges are selected
to serve on a U.S. circuit court of appeals?
cases in 2010, a decrease of about 3% from 2009. About 30% of those cases were
criminal, and another 12% were prisoner cases.6
There are currently 13 U.S. circuit courts of appeals (see Figure 8.4). Twelve
of them have jurisdiction over cases from particular geographic areas. The
S has national jurisdiction
Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, created in 1982,
The 13 U.S. Circuits
New York City
Location of a Federal Court of Appeals
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Part Three The Courts
The circuit courts are so named because
early in the nation’s history, federal judges
traveled by horseback to each of the
courts in a speciﬁed region, or “circuit,”
in a particular sequence. In short, they
rode the circuit.
Source: Howard Ball, “The Federal Court System,”
in Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System:
Studies of the Principal Institutions and
Processes of Law, ed. R. J. Janosik (New York:
Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1987), 556.
Supreme Court Justices
The Supreme Court Justices of the
United States have varied biographical,
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