Structure of the Court System: Crash Course Government and Politics #19

Structure of the Court System: Crash Course Government and Politics #19

Hi, I’m Craig and this is Crash Course Government
and Politics. As fans of our series know, here at Crash Course we believe in hierarchy.
First at the top you got me, then there’s John Green, then Stan, then Brandon, then
Zulaiha, then a bunch of independent contractors – wait I’m an independent contractor. But
I’m still at the top! Anyway then the rest of it’s turtles all the way down. ‘Cept at
the bottom. There’s an eagle. Anyway, it’s the strict adherence to hierarchy
that makes CC HQ run like a well-oiled machine. The same can be said for the U.S. court system. [Theme Music] As you probably remember, because you’re a
smart rememberer of things, the American court system is hierarchical which means any discussion of it
cries out for a visual representation. Thought Bubble! Like Drake, we’ll start from the bottom. The
trial courts have original jurisdiction. When you realize there are 50 states, each with
its own court system, it shouldn’t be a surprise that the vast majority of cases start out
in state courts. Of course most cases never get to court at all. The vast majority of
disputes, criminal and civil, are settled outside of court. How’s that for efficiency. On the federal side, the trial courts are
the U.S. district courts. There are 94 of them with 663 judges, more or less. Sometimes
in civil cases, a plaintiff, the person bringing the case, will have a choice of whether to
bring that case in state or federal court. But you can only start in the district courts
if your case meets certain important criteria. Almost all criminal cases start in state courts.
So if you don’t like the result in a trial court, and you have a reasonable claim that
there was something procedurally wrong with the case or the way the law was applied, you
can bring an appeal. Notice that if you start in state courts,
you usually have more chances for appeal because most states have two levels of appellate courts,
and the federal system has one. Appeals courts can refuse to hear appeals, and if they do,
you’re done. One thing to remember: the loser can always try to appeal, even if that loser
was of the state that failed in its prosecution. Federal appeals courts are called circuit
courts, and there are 12 of them distributed regionally throughout the U.S.. You might
guess if the region where your case is heard matters, and you’d be right! Judges in the
9th circuit, which includes California and Oregon, tend to be more liberal than judges
in the 5th circuit. Federal appeals are usually heard by panels
of three judges while trials in the district court are before a single judge. There are
four scenarios where the federal courts have original jurisdiction, and in all cases they
must be brought in a district court. They are:
Cases where the law at issue is a federal law like a claim against Obamacare.
Cases involving treaties which are by definition federal laws. These are pretty rare and rarely
interesting. Cases involving the U.S. Constitution. For
example a case concerning freedom of religion. And cases where the U.S. government is a party
to the litigation. The other type of case that can go in a federal
court is one involving more than one state where there’s more than 70,000 dollars at
issue. This make sense because if the parties in dispute are in different states, they might
not even agree where to have the trial, and federal judges are supposed to be more impartial
than state judges. Thanks Thought Bubble. So thoughtful. So bubbly. If you read the news and pay attention to
legal cases, most of what you see are lower court decisions. At least until the spring
when the supreme court starts handing down decisions. These are the ones that tend to
make it into the history books and that you may have even heard of. But how does a
case get to the supreme court, Craig? Well, I will answer that for you. That’s my job. Most of the time, the supreme court has appellate
jurisdiction. In fact, it’s the final court of appeals. If you lose there, you really
really lost. When the court hears a case it’s called judicial review. There are however
circumstances when the supreme court has original jurisdiction and can act like a trial court.
So it’s a good thing that most of the justices are in fact lawyers. Although there’s no constitutional
requirement that they need to be. The court has original jurisdiction in cases
between the U.S. and a state, cases between two or more states, cases involving foreign
ministers or ambassadors, and cases brought by citizens of one state against citizens
of another state or against a foreign country. What do these cases have in common? The main
thing is that you can’t imagine there being a single state where they could happen. This
is especially true in cases involving foreign officials. And then there are my favorite supreme court
cases – crimes committed on the high seas. That’s right — the supreme court can exercise
original jurisdiction over pirates! This is not as weird as it sounds because crimes on
the high seas by definition have not happened in any state, so where are you gonna have
the trial? But most of the time, cases that make it to
the supreme court are there on appeal. In order for the court to exercise its appellate
jurisdiction, the case must raise a federal question. For example one involving due process
or equal protection, or an important federal statute. Statute! If you don’t know what those
terms mean, don’t worry. We’ll get to them. Here’s the thing though: the supreme court
doesn’t hear a lot of cases, it doesn’t want to. And I don’t want to either! I understand!
They also can’t. And it’s not just because most of the justices are kind of old, it’s
because there are only nine of them, and they get requests to review about 8,000 cases a
year. Out of these they actually hand down about
80 decisions. So they have decision rules to weed out the cases that they don’t want
to hear. The first one is there has to be a case or controversy, which means that you
can’t request the court to review whether or not a law is unconstitutional before it has gone
into effect. There has to be an actual injury first. Another way of saying this is that the supreme
court will not issue advisory opinions, speculating in whether or not a law might violate the
constitution. The second hurdle a potential supreme court
litigant has to get over is called standing. Huh! That sounds terrible. I wouldn’t want
to be standing. No, this means that in order to bring a case, the parties must have a substantial
stake in the outcome, which usually means an actual injury. Lack of standing is one
reason that the court has refused cases about same sex marriage brought by opposite sex
married people. The court will also refuse to hear cases that
is moot. Mootness, which is a real word I promise, I’m reading it on a teleprompter, means that
the case no longer requires a resolution. Say because one of the parties is dead. The
flipside of mootness is ripeness. If a potential injury has yet to occur, the case is not ripe.
It’s like a hard avocado. Your guacamole…just not going to be very good. It’s best not to be too anxious about bringing your case.
Most of the time you can wait, except in cases like Bush v Gore, where we kind of needed a new outcome
so a new president could move into the White House. There’s also a vague decision rule called
the political question doctrine. In some cases the court would rather let the executive or legislative
branch handle the issue and not get involved. There are certain cases that the court would
almost always take, even though all things being equal, they’d rather not. When the circuit
courts have reached different or conflicting conclusions on the same issue, what’s known
as a circuit split, the court will usually hear the case to resolve the confusion. The
court will also almost always hear a case where the federal government itself initiated
the appeal. Finally the supreme court will usually take
a case that has a clear constitutional question like one involving freedom of speech or religion,
although there are sometimes constitutional issues that they feel are settled, or they
just don’t want to deal with. For a long time, for example, the court
didn’t hear gun control cases, and nowadays they don’t usually take obscenity cases. Okay so that’s the structure of the court
system and how a case does, or usually doesn’t, make it to the supreme court. But what we
haven’t really discussed is what happens when a case does make it to the supreme court.
We’ll show you that next time when we take a shortcut to the supreme court by suing the
ambassador to Switzerland for making such delicious chocolate. It’s making me unhealthy.
Thanks for watching, see ya next time. We’re not actually going to sue Switzerland. Crash Course Government and Politics is produced
in association with PBS Digital Studios. Support for Crash Course Government comes from Voqal.
Voqal supports non-profits that use technology and media to advance social equity. Learn
more about their mission and initiatives at Crash Course was made with the
help of all of these supreme court justices. Thanks for watching.


  1. I don't like how he put the girl at the bottom of the hierarchy!!!!!! anyone else or just me ?????

  2. No, really I LOVE all crash course, although I wish it were some how more organized, in a place where I can find a list of all the crash courses..

  3. This was great! I love his sense of humor, HOWEVER it was extremely frustrating because he talked so fast. I had to change the speed of the video. SLOW DOWN SIR. LOL

  4. Watching this video to get an idea of what's going on when Mueller inevitably subpoena's Donald Trump which would probably go to the district courts and make its way to the Supreme Court

  5. This is just too fast for me… the animations are cute but they make it even harder to focus on what you're saying

  6. There is an error in this video- when discussing original jurisdiction in federal district courts, you say that the amount in controversy must exceed $70k, when the rule says that the amount in controversy must exceed $75k. (USC 28 chapter 85, Section 1332)

  7. This video is great to learn about the structure of the court system in the US but as someone whose first language isn't English: PLEASE SLOW DOOOWN!! damn Americans talk so fast I don't how you can absorb so many new informations so fast!

  8. "The 9th Circuit, which includes California and Oregon…" Yes, Oregon, the smaller and less influential state below Washington State. Somehow, Washington is in the 9th Circuit, is mega progressive, and fails to make the list on this video. Yeah, I'm from Washington. What of it?!

  9. what about against companies corruption against workers where companies attorneys have nothing written and everything have's being block all doors close on theme and when you answer all 100% carefully all answers

  10. my ap gov test is in 3 days thank u buddy. it doesnt hit all the points and have some stuff we didnt do (so it wont be on the test) but it was well explained

  11. Guys, if he's speaking too fast for you, there's a speed feature. Use it.
    Or if you can't do that, find another channel- it's called CRASH COURSE for a reason.
    Thank you Craig for all the wonderful work!

  12. If federal law and state law work side by side or federal courts deal with cases in relation to the USA specifically why do individual states get sued by individuals? when the government on a hole is the UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT? Therefore THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA is enforcing immigration laws?? but still immigration violations are dealt with in state courts? You said it’s about jurisdiction? I would assume the federal court has more jurisdiction than individual states if federal crimes are more severe?🤦🏼‍♂️help?🤷🏼‍♂️

  13. The courts cannot try to rush you by not giving you the information you request when you step to the window to retrieve information. The courts cannot place you on any state vexatious litigant list to try to suppress your first amendment rights. The oakland and hayward courts committed these criminal acts knowingly and willingly. I was at the Hearing Officers Office where I was supposed to be. I did not have to write anything in writing that I had been going there ongoing like the order stated. The courts should not have assumed they could steal from me and give my things to trespassers and criminals. That is why the law officials and the city attorney does not want me to go to the building where the order was signed. I could easily prove that I was there physically speaking with staff and asking where was the sanctions and fines against the Halliday's. I needed my money for being inconvenienced. No one was being threatened. Business was being taken care of according to the order. The city attorney should be removed from the building. Like in that other city the mayor was removed from the building for misconduct. It is two sides. Not one. From where I'm standing my side is the only side that can confirm I told all these people the deal and what was going on at my home. The law officials tried to encourage me to leave what I build for my family. A lot of them did not have anything for their own families but housing and section 8. Some of my written requests were being removed because that is how Oakland operates. They are comfortable committing criminal acts because the police feels like they only have to protect them. The crooks in those buildings protect the police. Together they place many lives in danger causing unnecessary deaths.

  14. Just my observation, but the material seems to be blithely paced more to impress people than to provide good, actionable teaching/learning

  15. this is really helpful, thousands thumbs up for you guys !!!
    btw i just love your speed of speaking :> please keep it this way

  16. Woooooooo0o0ow wheezy waiter what a lovely surprise to find u here for my intro to American Politics class

  17. It would be perfect if you spoke a little bit slower… this videos are very useful also for foreign students (like me) but it's not easy to follow your explanations if you speak so fast

  18. It does NOT keep things moving smoothly except for the Establishment that set it up to function criminally.

  19. Poor people: Don’t have a chance.

    Middle Class: Get off easy

    Rich People: The cop that arrested you gets fired

  20. Could you make a video that actually explains in plain English to a ninth grader what all that just meant?

  21. a district court is like where you go first before going to the circuit court, and a line up can go to court to make sure, it was fair, and they all have mustaches if the suspect has a mustache and similar facial features and that circuit courts trials are really boring cause they just argue about state and court rules, and they all have to wear the same clothes, ie prison clothes other wise it can get thrown out if it is perceived unfair.

  22. To all judges: The custody of a child means ensuring the child,as the custody of the child is to child maintenance and to provides him the provision of housing, food, clothing,treatment and medicine, education and care for children. Either that custody of the child of the mother according to your law of human status so the mother whom she must expended from her capital money to the child, or the child custody to the father, rather this is the right and best,so the father expend of his own money on the child. Either the injustice of what you are doing of tyranny and injustice against the father by forcing him to pay expense to the mother of the child this is against rationality and logic,stop threatens and imprisoned fathers because they are human not animals to imprisoned them,the imprisoned is only for animals to watching them,canceled all prisons,don't biased to the women,be Judged as you claims. Go back to your rationality and rule your mind not your tendencies and your sensations so you will found the right thing is that the custody of a child to be the father not the mother. The custody of the child not only changing his diapers,change of child's clothes and feeding him as you imagine. you destroyed thousands families and your societies,you oblige the men to live with ladies without marriage as boyfriends and girlfriends and they are born children of adultery only to avoid your no humanist law,you also exported this bad law to uneducated People of other countries. Your academic degrees is not a license given you by the god of the universe to control humen by your status law,and you are staff not gods as you are claiming that you are the top power and the top ruler in the countries and you are looking for the others as low creatures and bad genes.

  23. If this video is all about US court system please mention it in the title. You have to understand that people from other countries too watch this video. Wasted 7 min of my life. Sorry

  24. what about a conflict of interest in health care when cost containment is more or less a assestment of bodymass value to use as payment to say china but me as a living man rather claim myself as such can one contest there social succurity number and take case above supreme court to water court and can one claim independance frombtyranical rule that is promoting a sodiumite agenda via trans ect?

  25. It About stealing money all the way appeal after appeal acquittal after acquittal just a wrecking people's lives in the false name of authority.. I used to believe it was actually all paid for by the taxpayers money



  28. judges should be voted in because they ruin someone's life over going ten miles over the speed limit witch is 100 dollar fine some people are a ticket away from having their life turn upside down …..not only that committing a nonviolent crime for just having or having a marijuana or a chemical on them that does not harm anyone…. there are responsible people and irresponsible people just like having too many drinks before they drive if they did not harm anyone they should not be convicted ever…. too many are in prison for committing a nonviolent crime this has to stop…. prisons make money when there full this is corruption from the bottom to the top and it has to stop with you vote …! Families are being devastated stop this its not far ….!

  29. the american justice system explained – in 3 words – money, power and influence. Make sure you have these 3 very important pillars of the justice system before committing crime. Nobody will be able to touch you. With influence, it pays to have powerful international heads of state and diplomats as close friends. On the other hand, if you are poor without power and influence, you will be thrown in jail on fabrication.

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