Melton Chapter 2: The Legal System (2.02.Sources of Law (Federal-State…
Melton Chapter 2: The Legal System
2.02.Sources of Law
U.S. is a "federation" of states, each state retained its own government, but collectively ceded certain powers to the federal government.
10th amendment, those powers not granted to the federal government, are retained by the states
Expansion of Federal government via "public welfare (federal funding)" clause or interstate commerce.
Federal laws most likely to be issue for forensic mental health experts
Federal Criminal Law
Victim was a federal official, violations of federal civil rights, offenses involving federal property, & interstate crimes
Social Security Laws
relates to certain types of disability determinations
Individuals with Disabilities Act
Involves treatment and habilitation for children w/disabilities
Americans with Disabilities Act
State laws encountered by forensic experts
civil commitment, guardianship, wills, torts, juvenile delinquency, domestic violence
Ultimate legal authority
5th, 6th, & 14th amendment most likely encountered by forensic experts
Statutes & Regulations
Federal & State government both have a legislative, executive, & judicial branch
Congress at federal level, and general assemblies, house of delegates at the state level
Laws passed by legislatures is called "statutes" :red_flag: and collected into "codes"
Legislatures are unable to foresee every circumstance for a law, so they delegate power to rule-making authorities, or government agencies in the executive branch.
Provide a response to a specific issue raised, and the holding or reasoning is referred to as a "Report."
Through review, have frequent opportunity to "make" law.
For instance, existing law may be ambiguous
Can make law through "common law" or "judge-made" law.
In these situations, there is likely no existing statutory provision
Use of "stare decisis" or legal precedent
2.03 The Court System
Types of court
Federal Court System
Judges are nominated by president & approved by senate
Two appellate: Circuit Court & Supreme Court
Appellate decisions determine the law only for that circuit?
Courts have discretion whether to hear cases
"Writ of Certiorari" petition to the court
4 votes needed to grant a Writ
State Judicial Systems
State judges are elected, not appointed
Most states have "special jurisdiction" courts for civil commitment, domestic relations, and juvenile matters
2 types: Trial & Appellate Court
Most serious, possible imprisonment, loss of freedom, death
consequently, "beyond a reasonable doubt" 90-95% certainty
defendant is awarded counsel at any "critical stage," custodial interrogations, post-indictment line up
entitled to public trial with jury, compel witnesses to testify, and cross-examine prosecution's experts
Stages of Criminal Prosecution
State can detain anyone with "probable cause," 40-50% confidence one committed a crime
The Initial hearing
ASAP after arrest (48 hours), must have a hearing on probable cause to detain the defendant
Those charged with misdemeanors, can be tried at this time
One can be "preventively detained" if he is likely to offend upon release
Defense motions & discovery
Defense tries to "discover" the prosecution's case, motion for exculpatory information, or other information prosecution plans to use at trial
Some states have "reciprocity" principle
Defense may make a motion to "suppress" certain evidence, ie false confesion
Prima facie showing
stage to ensure the prosecution has a reasonably valid case to justify going forward
Jury members selected through "voir dire"
Peremptory challenges (limited # of challenges w/out cause
"for cause challenges" unlimited
bifurcated trial for Insanity cases
Select states allow jury to sentence the defendant upon guilt finding
can only appeal on "factual issues (e.g. insufficient evidence to convict) or legal ones (e.g. defendant's confession was obtained unjustly)
Post-sentence treatment hearings
Sex offender civil commitment
"truly" civil proceeding involve a dispute between two citizens, state is not invested
includes custody disputes
one party files a complaint
both parties tend to file numerous motions
use of depositions (witnesses are questioned and testimony transcribed)
May be used at trial to "impeach" an expert's credibility