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82 Cards in this Set

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  • Back
Federal Court System
The three-tiered structure of federal courts, comprising U.S. district courts, U.S. courts of appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court
State Court System
A state judicial structure. Most states have at least three court levels: generally, trial courts, appellate courts, and a state supreme court.
The territory, subject matter, or people over which a court or other justice agency may exercise lawful authority, as determined by statute or constitution.
Original Jurisdiction
The lawful authority of a court to hear or to act on a case from its beginning and to pass judgment on the law and the facts. The specific geographic area or over particular types of cases.
Appellate Jurisdiction
The lawful authority of a court to review a decision made by a lower court.
Trial de novo
Literally, "new trial" The term is applied to cases that are retried on appeal, as opposed to those that are simply reviewed on the record.
Court of Last Resort
The court authorized by law to hear the final appeal on a matter.
Generally, the request that a court with appeallate jurisdiction review the judgement, decision, or order of a lower court and set it aside (reverse it) or modify it.
State Court Administrator
A coordinator who assists with case-flow management, operating funds budgeting, and court docket administration.
Dispute resolution center
An informal hearing place designed to mediate interpersonal disputes without resorting to the more formal arrangements of criminal trial courts.
Community court
A low-level court that focuses on quality-of-life crimes that erode a neighborhood's morale, that emphasizes problem solving rather than punishment, and that builds on restorative principle like community service and restitution.
Judicial Review
The power of a court to review actions and decisions made by other agencies of government.
First Appearance
An appearance before a magistrate during which the legality of the defendant's arrest is initally assessed and the defendant is informed of the charges on which he or she is being held. At this stage in the criminal justice probess, bail ay be set or pretrial release arranged.
Pretrial Release
The release of an accused person from custody, for all or part of the time before or during prosecution, upon his or her promise to appear in court when required.
Bail Bond
A document guaranteeing the appearance of a defendant in court as required and recording the pledge of money or property to be paid to the court if he or she does not appear, which is signed by the person to be released and anyone else acting in his or her behalf.
Release on recognizance (ROR)
The pretrial release of a criminal defendant on his or her written promise to appear in court as required. No cash or property bond is required.
Property bond
The setting of bail in the form of land, houses, stocks, or other tangible property. In the event that the defendant absconds prior to trial, the bond becomes the property of the court.
Danger Law
A law intended to prevent the pretrial release of criminal defendants judged to represent a danger to others in the community.
Competent to Stand Trial
A finding by a court, when the defendant's sanity at the time of the trial is at issue, that the defendant has sufficient present ability to consult with his or her attorney with a reasonable degree of rational understanding and that the defendant has a rational as well as factual understanding of the proceedings against him or her.
In criminal proceedings, the defendant's formal answer in court to the charge contained in a complaint, imformation, or indictment that he or she is guilty of the offense charged, is not guilty of the offense changred, or does not contest the charge.
Nolo Contendere
A plea of 'no contest' A no contest plea is used when the defendant does not wish to contest conviction. Because the plea does not admit guilt, however, it cannot provide the basis for later civil suits that might follow a criminal conviction
Plea bargining
The process of negotiating an agreement among the defendant, the prosecutor, and the court as to an appropriate plea and associated sentence in a given case. It circumvents the trial process and dramatically reduces the time required for the resolution of a criminal case.
Courtroom Work Group
The professional courtroom actors, including judges, prosecution attorneys, defense attorneys, publis defenders, and others who earn a lving serving the court.
An elected or appointed public official who presides over a court of law and who is authorized to hear and sometimes to decide cases and to conduct tirals.
An attorney whose official duty is to conduct criminal proceedings on behalf of the state or the people against those accused of having committed criminal offenses.
Prosecutorial Discretion
The decision-making power of prosecutors, based on the side range of choises available to them, in the handling of scheduling of cases for tiral, the acceptance of negotiated pleas, and so on. The most important lies in the power to charge, or not to charge a person with an offense.
Defense counsel
A licensed trial lawyer, hired or appointed to conduct the legal defense of a person accused of a crime and to represent him or her before a court of law.
Public Defender
An attorney employed by a government agency or subagency, or by a private organization under contract to a government body, for hte purpose of providing defense services to indigents, or an attorney who has volunteered such service.
The court officer whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom and to maintain physical custody of the jury
Expert Witness
A person who has special knowledge and skills recognized by the court as relevant to the determination of guilt or innocence. Unlike lay witnesses, these may express opionions or draw conlcusions in their testimony.
Lay Witness
An eyewitness, character witness, or other person called on to testify who is not considered an expert. They must testify to facts only and may not draw conclusions or express opinions.
A written order issed by a judicial officer or grand jury requiring an individual to appear in court and to give testimony or to bring material to be used as evidence. Some subpoenas mandate that books, papers, and other items be surrendered to the court.
Victim-assistance Program
An organized program that offers services to victims of crime in the areas of crisis intervention and follow-up counseling and that helps victimes secure their rights under the law.
A member of a trial or grand jury, selected for jury duty and required to serve as an arbiter of the facts in a court of law. Jurors are expected to render verdicts of "guilty" or "not guilty" as to the charged brought against the accused, although they may sometimes fail to do so (as in the case of a hung jury)
Change of Venue
The movement of a trial or lawsuit from one jurisdiction to another or from one location to another within the same jurisdiction. It may be made in a criminal case to ensure that the defendant receives a fair trial.
Rules of Evidence
Court rules that govern the admissibility of evidence at criminal hearings and trails
Adversarial System
The two-sided structure under which American criminal trial courts operate that pits the prosecution against the defense. In theory, justice is done when the most offective adversar is able to convince the judge or jury that his or her perspective on the case is the correct one.
Speedy Trial Act
A 1974 federal law requiring that proceedings against a defendant in a criminal case begin within a specified period of time, such as 70 working days after indictment. Some states also have speedy trial requirements.
Jury selection
The process whereby, according to law and precedent, members of a particular trial jury are chosen.
Peremptory Challenge
The right to challenge a potential juror without disclosing the reason for the challenge. Prosecutors and defense attorneys routinely use this to eliminate from juries individuals who, although they express no obvious bias, are thought to be capable of swaying the jury in an undesirable direction.
Scientific Jury Selection
The use of correlational techniques from the social sciences to gauge the likelihood that potential jurors will vote for conviction or acquittal.
Sequestered Jury
A jury that is isolated from the public durig the course of a trial and throughout the deliberation process.
Opening Statement
The inital statement of the prosecution or the defense, made in a court of law to a judge, or to a judge ad jury, describing the facts that he or she intends to present during trial to prove the case.
Anything useful to a judge or jury in decidig the facts of a case. It may take the form of witness testimony, written documents, videotapes, magnetic media, photographs, physical objects, and so on.
Direct Evidence
Evidence that, if believed, directly proves a fact. Eyewitness testimony and videotaped documentation account for the majority of all direct evidence heard in the criminal courtroom.
Circumstantial Evidence
Evidence that requires interpreatation or that requires a judge or jury to reach a conclusion based on what the evidnce indicates From the close proximity of the defendant to a smoking gun, for example, the jury might conclude that she pulled the trigger.
Real Evidence
Evidence consisting of physical material or traces of physical activity.
Oral evidence offered by a sworn witness on the witness stand during a criminal trial
The intentional making of a false statement as a part of the testimony by a sworn witness in a judicial proceeding on a matter relevant to the case at hand.
Something that is not based on the personal knowledge of a witness. Witneses who testify about something they have heard, for example, are offering this by repeating information about a matter of which they have no direct knowledge.
Hearsay Rule
The long-standing precedent that hearsay cannot be used in American courtrooms. Rather than accepting testimony absed on hearsay, the court will ask that the person who was the original source of the hearsay information be brought in to be questioned and cross-examined. Exceptions to this may ocur when the person with direct knowledge is dead or is other wise unable to testify.
Closing Argument
An oral summation of a case presented to a judge, or to a judge and jury, by the prosecution or by the defense in a criminal trial.
The decision of the jury in a jury trial or of a judicial officer in a nonjury trial.
The imposition of a criminal sanction by a judicial authority.
The act of taking revenge on a criminal perpetrator.
Just deserts
A model of criminal sentecing that holds that crimnal offenders deserve the punishment they receive at the hands of the law and that punishments should be appropriate to the type and severity of the crime committed.
The use of imprisonment of other means to reduce the likelihood taht an offender will be capable of committing future offenses.
A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to inhibit criminal behavior through the fear of punishment.
Spedific deterrence
A goal of criminal sentencing that seeksto prevent a particular offender from engaging in repeat criminality.
General deterrene
A goal of criminal sentencing that seeks to prevent others from committing crimes similar to the one for which a particular offender is being sentenced by making an example of the person sentenced.
The attempt to reform a cimrinal offender. Also, the state in which a reformed offender is said to be.
A goal of criminal sentencing that attempts to make the victim "whole again"
Restorative Justice
A sentencing model that builds on restitution and community participation in an attempt to make the victim "whole again"
Indeterminate Sentencing
A model of criminal punishment that encourages rehabilitation via the use of general and relatively unspecific sentences (such as a term of imprisonment of from one to ten years.)
Gain time
The amount of time deducted from time to be served in prison on a given sentence as a consequence of participation in special projects or programs
Good time
The amount of time deducted from time to be served in prison on a given sentence as a consequence of good behavior.
A sentencing principle that holds that the severity of sanctions should bear a direct relationship to the seriousness of the crime committedd.
A sentencing principle, based on concerns with social equality, that holds that similar crimes shoudl be punished with the same degree of severity, regardless of the social or personal characteristics of the offenders.
Social debt
A sentencing principle that holds that an offender's criminal history should objectively be taken into account in sentencing decisions.
Structured sentencing
A model of criminal punishment that included determinate and commission-created presumptive sentecing schems, as well as voluntary/ advisory sentecing guidelines.
Determinate sentencing
A model of criminal punishment in which can offender is given a fixed term that may be reduced by good time or gain time. Under the model, for example, all offenders convicted of the same degree of burglary would be sentenced to the same length of time behind bars.
Voluntary/advisory sentencing guidelines
Recommeneded sentencing policies taht are not required by law.
Presumptive sentencing
A model of criminal punishemtn that meets the following conditions:

1. The appropriate sentence for an offender convicted of a specific charge is presumed to fall within range of sentences authorized by sentencing guidelines adopted by a legislatively created sentencing body, usually a sentencing sommission.

2. Sentencing judges are expected to sentence within the range or to provide writeen justificaton for departure.

3. The guidelines provide for some review, usually appellate, of the departure.
Aggravating circumstances
Circumstanced relating to the commission of a crime which cause its gravity to be greater tahn that of the average instance of the given type of offense.
Mitigating circumstances
Circumstances relating to the commission of a crime which may be considered to reduce the blameworthiness of the defendant.
Mandatory Sentecing
A structured sentencing scheme that allows no leeway in the nature of the snetence required and under which clearly enumerated punishments are mandated for specific offenses or for habitual offenders convictd of a series of crimes.
Truth in sentencing
A close correspondence between the sentence imposed on an offender and the time actually served prior to release from prison.
Presentence investigation
The examination of a convicted offender's background prior to sentencing. Presentence examinations are generally conducted by probation or parole officers and are submitted to sentecing authorities.
Victim-impact statement
The in-court use of victim-or survivor-supplied information by sentencing authorities seeking to make an informed sentencing decision.
Capital Punishment
The death penalty. It is the most extreme of all sentencing options.
Capital offense
A criminal offense punishable by death.
Writ of habeas corpus
A writ that directs the person detaining a prisoner to bring him or her before a judicial officer to determine the lawfulness of the imprisonment.