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PRDV301: Introduction to Paralegal Studies

Unit 4: The Judicial System   A system of justice requires a process for justice.  In general, that process is available through the judicial system.  Lawyers and paralegals must be familiar with various parts of the judicial system and the appropriate way to access them.  For example, when your client brings a case to you dealing with a breach of contract, which court will you bring that to?  Is there any recourse if you lose the case?  When do you know you have exhausted all of your client’s remedies?

In this unit, you will learn about a typical judicial system, using the American system as a model.  Most judicial systems contain a basic level of trial courts that address issues of fact and law.  If the outcome is not satisfactory, a party and his or her legal team may decide to appeal issues of law to an appeals court.  Many judicial systems provide for intermediate courts of appeal and one ultimate decider.  For example, you will see that in the United States, decisions of Courts of Appeal may be appealed to the Supreme Court of the United States.  Any legal issues decided by the Supreme Court are final and may not be appealed further.  As a paralegal, you must understand how this process works to adequately serve your employers and clients.

Unit 4 Time Advisory
This unit will take you approximately 3 hours to complete.

☐    Introduction: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.1: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.2: 0.75 hours

☐    Subunit 4.3: 0.75 hours

Unit4 Learning Outcomes
Upon successful completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Describe the jurisdiction of various courts in the American judicial system. - Distinguish between trial courts, appeal courts, and courts of last resort. 

  • Reading: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession: “Chapter 7: The Legal System” Link: B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program: Keith Nordyke’s Intro to Law and the Paralegal Profession: “Chapter 7: The Legal System” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read Chapter 7, which begins on page 59.  This reading provides a good overview of the legal system as it exists in the United States.  In addition to addressing the role of the various federal and state courts, it also addresses issues of jurisdiction.  Remember, not every court can (or should) hear every case.  In addition, you should familiarize yourself with the circumstances under which litigation may be prohibited and how courts grant damages and other relief.

    Reading this chapter should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: The material above has been reposted by the kind permission of the B.B. “Sixty” Rayburn Correctional Center College Correspondence Program and Keith Nordyke.  Please note that this material is under copyright and cannot be reproduced in any capacity without explicit permission from the copyright holder.

4.1 Trial Courts   - Reading: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: “Chapter 2: The Court System – Section 3: Trial and Appellate Courts” Link: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: “Chapter 2: The Court System – Section 3: Trial and Appellate Courts” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read “Section 3:
Trial and Appellate Courts” of Chapter 2.  Note that this reading
will also cover material you need to know for subunit 4.2.  For this
subunit, focus on the discussion of trial courts in the United
States.  Note that on the federal level, trial courts are
represented by district courts.  In addition, all fifty states have
their own court systems with trial and appellate courts.  Federal
court jurisdiction is somewhat limited.  Familiarize yourself with
these limits and the interaction of state and federal courts  

 Reading this section should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.

4.2 Intermediate Appeals Courts   Note: This topic is covered by the Chapter 2, Section 3 reading from Lau and Johnson assigned below subunit 4.1.  To cover this subunit, focus on the discussion of the role of intermediate appeals courts in the United States.

  • Reading: Foundations of Business Law and the Legal Environment: “Chapter 3: Courts and Legal Process – Section 5: Judgment, Appeal, and Execution” Link: Foundations of Business Law and the Legal Environment: “Chapter 3: Courts and Legal Process – Section 5: Judgment, Appeal, and Execution” (PDF)

    Instructions: Please click on the link above and read “Section 5: Judgment, Appeal, and Execution” of Chapter 3.  This reading addresses the outcome of a trial as well as the process of appeal.  Note that appeals courts usually confine themselves to examining whether any errors of law were committed on the trial level.  Familiarize yourself with what appeals courts can do with cases on appeal.  Note also the power of the judicial system to enforce its judgments with contempt orders.

    Reading this section should take approximately 45 minutes.

    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

4.3 Courts of Last Resort   - Reading: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: “Chapter 2: The Court System – Section 4: The Certiorari Process” Link: The Legal and Ethical Environment of Business: “Chapter 2: The Court System – Section 4: The Certiorari Process” (PDF)

 Instructions: Please click on the link above and read “Section 4:
The Certiorari Process” of Chapter 2.  This reading takes you
through the process by which the Supreme Court of the United States
decides to take a case and what happens when it does.  Other
jurisdictions have analogous process for courts of last resort.  Pay
particular attention to the process the Supreme Court uses in
hearing and deciding cases.  

 Reading this chapter should take approximately 45 minutes.  

 Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use
displayed on the webpage above.