PSC 101: chapter 15

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PSC 101: chapter 15
2010-11-01 14:25:43
UNLV Political Science

This covers key concepts and key words form chapter 15
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  1. Criminal Law:
    The branch of law that regulates the conduct of individuals, defines crimes, and specifies punishment or criminal acts.
  2. Plaintiff:
    The individual or organization who brings a complaint in court.
  3. Defendant:
    The one against whom a complaint is brought in a criminal or civil case.
  4. Civil Law:
    The branch of law that deals with disputes that do not involve criminal penalties.
  5. Precedent:
    Prior case whose principles are used by judges as the basis for their decision in a present case.
  6. Stare Decisis:
    Literally, "let the decision stand." The doctrine that a previous decision by a court applies as a precedent in similar cases until that decision is overruled.
  7. Trial Court:
    The first court to hear a criminal or civil case.
  8. Court of Appeals:
    A court that hears appeals of trail court decisions.
  9. Supreme Courts:
    the highest court in a particular state or in the United States. This court primarily serves an appellate function.
  10. Plea Bargain:
    A negotiated agreement in a criminal case in which a defendant agrees to plead guilty in return for the state's agreement to reduce the severity of the criminal charge or prison sentence the defendant is facing.
  11. Uniform Commercial Code:
    Code used in many states in the area of contract law to reduce interstate differences in judicial decisions.
  12. Jurisdiction:
    The sphere of a court's power and authority.
  13. Due Process of Law:
    The right of every citizen against arbitrary action by national or state governments.
  14. Writ of Habeas Corpus:
    A court order that the individual in custody be brought into court and shown the cause for detention. Habeas corpus is guaranteed by the Constitution and can be suspended only in cases of rebellion or invasion.
  15. Original Jurisdiction:
    The authority to initially consider a case. Distinguished from appellate jurisdiction, which is the authority to hear appeals from a lower court's decision.
  16. Chief Justice:
    Justice on the Supreme Court who presides over the Court's public sessions.
  17. Senatorial Courtesy:
    The practice whereby the president, before formally nominating a person for a federal judgeship, seeks the indication that senators from the candidate's own state support the nomination.
  18. Judicial Review:
    The power of the courts to review and, if necessary, declare actions of the legislative and executive branches invalid or unconstitutional. The Supreme Court asserted this power in Marbury v. Madison.
  19. Supremacy Clause:
    Article VI of the Constitution, which states that laws passed by the national government and all treaties are the supreme law of the land and superior to all laws adopted by any state or any subdivision.
  20. Miranda Rule:
    The requirement, articulated by the Supreme Court in Miranda v. Arizona, that persons under arrest must be informed prior to police interrogation of their rights to remain silent and to have the benefit of legal counsel.
  21. Standing:
    The right of an individual or organization to initiate a court case, on the basis of their having a substantial stake in the outcome.
  22. Mootness:
    A criterion used by courts to screen cases that no longer require resolution.
  23. Writ of Certiorari:
    A decision of at least four of the nine Supreme Court justices to review a decision of a lower court; from the Latin "to make more certain"; "rule of 4."
  24. Solicitor General:
    The top government lawyer in all cases before the Supreme Court where the government is a party.
  25. Per Curiam:
    A brief, unsigned decision by an appellate court, usually rejecting a petition to review the decision of a lower court.
  26. Amicus Curiae:
    literally, "friend of the court"; individuals or groups who are not parties to a lawsuit but who seek to assist the Supreme Court in reaching a decision by presenting additional briefs.
  27. Brief:
    A written document in which attorneys explain, using case precedents, why the court should find in favor of their client.
  28. Oral Argument:
    Stage in Supreme Court procedure in which attorneys for both sides appear before teh Court to present their positions and answer questions posed by justices.
  29. Opinion:
    The written explanation of the Supreme Court's decision in a particular case.
  30. Dissenting Opinion:
    A decision written by a justice in the minority in a particular case in which the justice wishes to express his or her reasoning in the case.
  31. Judicial Restraint:
    Judicial philosophy whose adherents refuse to go beyond the clear words of the Constitution in interpreting its meaning.
  32. Judicial Activism:
    Judicial philosophy that posits that the Court should go beyond the words of the Constitution or a statute to consider the broader societal implications of its decisions