The Powers of the Judicial Branch - Reading Comprehension
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The Powers of the Judicial Branch Reading Comprehension
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The Powers of the Judicial Branch
By Phyllis Naegeli
1 Courts and judges make up the judicial branch of our government. There are three separate court levels in this branch, District Courts, Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court. The Constitution created the Supreme Court and gave the power of establishing other courts to the Congress. In 1789, the first Congress used this power to establish the district and appeals courts – called the lower courts.
2 The power given to courts to interpret the law is called jurisdiction. The jurisdiction granted to the judicial branch is limited to federal and constitutional laws. The federal courts hear cases where a person or group disobeyed the constitution, violated a treaty, committed a crime on federal property, or broke a federal law. They also hear cases when a citizen from one state sues a citizen of another state. The federal courts also hear cases when a foreign country accuses a government official or U.S. citizen of a crime against their nation, or a person commits a crime on a U.S. ship at sea.
3 The lower courts' decisions in these cases set precedent. The lower court judges are required to give legal reasons for their decisions. Precedent sets an example to follow for future cases with related subjects. The decisions reached in these courts can have a significant effect on the citizens of our country.
4 There are ninety-four U.S. District Courts, with at least one in each state, one in Washington, D.C., one in Puerto Rico, and one in each of three territories – Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, and Northern Mariana Islands. Each of these courts has jurisdiction over the cases in these areas.
5 There are two sides to every disagreement brought before the courts. The respondent is the person or group accused or sued. The petitioner is the side who accuses or sues. Both sides usually have an attorney to present their arguments before a judge and jury. A respondent can waive his right to a jury and choose to have a decision made by the judge alone. Each attorney has the opportunity to present the facts and laws that support their client's argument. After the information is presented, a verdict is reached. If the verdict is unfavorable, the case can be reviewed by the appeals court.
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