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UH / Political Science / POLS 1337 / Which courts have original jurisdiction?

Which courts have original jurisdiction?

Which courts have original jurisdiction?


School: University of Houston
Department: Political Science
Course: US Govt Congress, Pres and Crts
Professor: Sharon davis
Term: Spring 2015
Cost: 50
Name: Final Exam POLS 1337
Description: Review sheet with my own extra notes
Uploaded: 12/05/2016
8 Pages 4 Views 7 Unlocks

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Final Exam Study Guide

Which courts have original jurisdiction?

The Court System in Texas (Chapter 4) 

∙ Know which courts have original jurisdiction and which ones have  appellate jurisdiction

Trial courts have original jurisdiction and are localized, jurisdiction is  limited to geographic area and only one judge presides over this court.  Citizens participate serving as members of juries. Trial courts are  concerned with establishing facts of a courts

Appellate courts have appellate jurisdiction and appellate judges are  elected in partisan elections for 6 year terms

∙ Differences between civil and criminal cases

Criminal law – law that deals with conduct considered harmful to peace and safety of society. Each state has its own criminal law compiled in its own penal code. State courts resolve the majority of criminal lawsuits. Punishment as remedy

The government whose criminal statute was violated files the lawsuit as the prosecutor against the defendant. Government is the plaintiff

What are the differences between civil and criminal cases?

The prosecutor has to prove its case against the defendant beyond reasonable doubt. Most criminal cases never go to trial because the defendants plead guilty.

Civil law- law dealing with private rights and obligations that are established by voluntary agreements (contracts), legislation, constitutions …

Civil lawsuits involve disputes between individuals, individual and corporation, corporations and individual and government. One party (complainant) alleges that some action or inaction by the other party (respondent) caused harm. Payment or cease and desist order as remedies

Tort – when the harm is caused to a person’s body or property out of somebody else’s negligence eg medical malpractice. Tort law used to be common law

Preponderance of evidence- complainant who filed the suit has the burden to prove the respondent caused harm. Must prove the POE is on their side; evidence that it is more likely than not that the accused caused the harm  

What is Civil law?

If you want to learn more check out What is Sociology?

Defendant may be forced to testify

∙ Caseloads of state and federal courts

∙ Selection of judges in Texas as compared to other states and the  federal government:  

o Judicial appointments (recall the federal approach)-governor  appoints judges and they serve for life We also discuss several other topics like John Snow was skeptical of what theory?

o Merit system


the governor appoints judges from a list submitted by a  screening committee of legal officials. After appointment, a  judge serves for a set term and is then subjected to a retention  election in which the voters decide whether the judge retains  the office.

o Partisan and nonpartisan elections-Texas uses partisan elections  for four year terms

Partisan- Candidates must run in a primary and in a general  election. Most Municipal judges are appointed by the mayor  Non partisan- an election in which candidates are not nominated by political parties and the ballot does not include party  affiliations

∙ Filing a lawsuit (Know what each of these terms means): o Complaint

A complaint filed in court  

o Answer

Sheriff serves the defendant with a lawsuit who has 30 days to  file an answer.

o Discovery- gathering relevant info

o Deposition

The process of discovery begins; this often involves attorneys  taking depositions of witnesses

∙ Resolving a lawsuit (how do these two approaches work?): o Binding arbitration

an alternative to having a trial; letting a retired judge make the  decision or some third party make decision. Most of the time it’s  the person who has been filed against, like the corporation that  chooses the third party

o Mediation

an alternative to having a trial; a third party mediator will help  the parties come to a solution; not binding. Tries to make  everyone happy but someone walks away unhappy. We also discuss several other topics like What is Gothic?

∙ Economic (“compensatory”) and noneconomic damages (know  examples of each)

Compensatory damages- medical expenses, salary for missed work Noneconomic damages- Pain and suffering

∙ Tort reform in Texas:  

Tort- a wrongful act involving a personal injury or harm to one’s  property or reputation

Tort reform – changing legal rules regarding compensation for damages done by one party to another

o Caps on noneconomic damages

$25000, limiting awards juries can give for non-economic  damages


∙ Lawsuit abuse:

o Torts and tort reform


o Medical malpractice insurance and lawsuits

o Family of 5 doctors

o Insurance premium too high Don't forget about the age old question of Who is Marcus Aurelius?

o Patients without insurance/ cant pay fees Don't forget about the age old question of What does it mean for something to be scientific in political science?

Doctors leaving the state because they couldn’t afford  

malpractice insurance premiums

Especially problematic in rural areas

o 60 Minutes and Hot Coffee clips

Stella liebeck awarded

o Caps on damage awards and punitive damages

Punitive damages – case of negligence

Local Governments in Texas (Chapter 5) 

∙ Responsibilities of local governments, i.e. what government functions  do they alone handle?  If you want to learn more check out According to Speth, why is wet cooking important?

Infrastructure and day to day problems

parks/recreations services, police and fire departments, housing  

services, emergency medical services, municipal courts, transportation services, public works

∙ Scope of power for local governments

o General purpose governments (city and county governments) given broad scope of authority by the state government; able to  control their own spending, revenue, personnel, and  

establish/modify their own governmental structures.  

o Limited purpose governments (HCTRA, HISD, etc.)

limited authority or control over its finances under strict rules  and is governed by a set structure i.e: school districts, Texas  counties

∙ County commissions  

group of elected officials who run the county government in same  states, acts as the executive of the local gov't

∙ Power arrangements in city governments

These are two forms of basic government

o Mayor-council governments

the most common approach for large cities, enjoy considerable  power/autonomy from the city council (a unicameral legislature)  Weak executive

lack authority independent from the city council grants  

them; mayor shares power w/ other elected officials,  

limited control over budget formation/execution, number  of terms mayor can serve is limited, mayor has little/no  

veto authority

 Strong executive (Houston does this)

mayor wields more power independently of the city  

council, can appoint/remove major heads of departments,  control over budget formation/execution, not limited by  


short terms/term limits, able to veto actions of the city  council

o Council-manager governments

most popular, people vote for a city council and mayor who then hires a professional as city manager; city manager  

appoints/removes major heads of departments & responsible for  budget preparation/execution; mayor/council establish mission,  policy, and direction

o City Commissions

elected commissioners are in charge of different areas of the  city; used successfully but abandoned b/c instances of  

corruption and incompetence, no leader

Public Policy Overview (see the slides for this topic) 

Public policy: “any action or inaction by the government that has an impact  on the lives of its citizens”  

Steps in the policymaking process (note that these are cyclical):

o Agenda setting

Government decides which issue to address and which to ignore. News media tells us what to think about and not what to think.  Civil rights movement depended heavily on agenda setting,  putting pressure on public officials to ask

o Policy deliberation & enactment

Debating what to do about a particular policy, involves  

lawmakers, interest groups, news media, citizens, think tanks Passage of laws and bureaucratic regulations, verdicts in court  cases

o Policy implementation

Involves all three branches of government also involves the  bureaucracy

Law enforcement of rules and regulations

Government programs established

Research dollars spent and allocated,

o Evaluation

Does the policy work?

Easier said than done, standardized test. If policy does not work  go back to step 1 and 2

o Change or termination

Sometimes need to tweak certain policies or abandon them New problems arise; sometimes, problems are not solved  

adequately; perhaps one problem creates another, etc.

Think about Obamacare; this is applicable regardless of the  outcome of last week’s election

∙ Components of public policy (more than just laws, e.g. Click-it-or-Ticket  as public policy)


Regulations, government programs, publicity campaigns, funding for  research

∙ How elections and public opinion affect public policy

Domestic Policy (Chapter 14) 

Domestic policies are policies addressing the problems, needs and relations  of people residing with the countries borders

∙ Differences between entitlements and contributory programs

Cash transfer is the direct provision of cash in various forms to eligible  individuals

Entitlements and contributory are types of cash transfer programs. Contributory programs are funded by revenue collected specifically for  these programs and they benefit only those who paid into these  programs.

Entitlement programs are a form of social insurance programs meaning that the government guarantees the programs benefits to all who eet  the eligibility criteria, thus workers who pay the payroll tax for social  security will receive social security checks when they retire

∙ For each of the programs listed below, know who benefits, how they  are funded and about current challenges associated with this funding ∙ Programs to help the elderly-non means tested, entitlements o Social Security

OASDI- Old age survivors and disability insurance aka social  security began in 1935

The federal social insurance program that gives cash to retirees  based on payroll taxes they paid while they were working Was amended to provide benefits to dependents and surviving  spouses

How much you receive depends on how much you contributed  and the gae at which you retired and inflation

More baby boomers are retiring so there will be more  

beneficiaries but they had fewer kids so there are now far fewer  contributors

o Medicare- created in 1965 to provide health insurance to  americans aged 65+. Hospital stays, medical insurance(original  medicare),

Funding for both these programs comes from Federal insurance  contributions act (FICA) tax:

12.45 of ur income for social security

2.9 percent for Medicare (you pay half, and your employer pays  half; also for social security)

Currently stops at $113,700 (adjusted for inflation), which makes it a regressive tax

Money goes into trusts so that it can be used to pay  



Demographic challenges

Health care costs are growing faster than inflation  

The Hospital Insurance Trust Fund is already operating on deficit  spending and can only do so for a few more years

To fix medicare Obama proposed wealthier and newer  

beneficiaries pay higher premiums, no vouchers,  

Paul Ryan says- Beneficiaries receive a payment with which to  purchase private insurance of their choosing; critics say it’s a  “voucher, no new taxes

∙ Recent proposals to reform both programs  

o Why are they in financial trouble going forward?

But both programs, particularly Medicare, are becoming  

increasingly expensive and must be restructured in some  

manner so that they will be there for future generations

o What have Democrats and Republicans proposed doing to them? Possible solutions- raising the payroll tax (revenue increases) Reduction in payments to beneficiaries (spending cuts)

George bush in 2005 offered solutions like no tax increase,  option to invest SS benefits in stock market, no changes for  already old people, benefits based on sliding scale, poor people  get more money and wealthy get less

 Democrats accused him of wanting to privatize social security  ∙ Programs to help the impoverished –means tested entitlements o TANF (“welfare”) and the 1996 reforms

Temporary aid to needy families- administered as block grants to the states who administer it

5 year lifetime limit, maximum of 2 consecutive years, must be  employed if child(ren) are over 5 years old

Recently many states begun to require drug testing for those  receiving TANF benefits. Bill did not pass in 2013 or 2015 either o SNAP (food stamps)

o Medicaid - health insurance

o SCHIP – state children’s health insurance program

Economic Policy (Chapter 13)- is a collection of public policies that affect the  health of the economy, which includes taxing and spending policies (fiscal  policy), monetary policy, regulatory policy, and trade policy.

∙ American Dream

a financially secure, happy, and healthy life, with upward mobility,  attained through an individual's hard work and persistence. ∙ Definition of the word “economy”

The system of transactions by which goods and services are distributed in the marketplace is referred to as the economy

∙ Government approaches to regulating the economy:

o Laissez-faire


Hands off approach, let the market direct and regulate itself and  the economy. By adam smith saying unregulated competition  should be allowed

o Pure capitalist economy- private individuals and companies own  the modes of producing goods and services, and the  

government does not enact laws aimed at influencing the  marketplace transactions that distribute those goods and  services. In other words, a pure capitalist economy has a  government-free marketplace.

o Regulated capitalist economy (mixed economy)

US is a mixed economy. Same as pure economy but is  

government regulated

∙ Characteristics of a strong economy and government measurements of them

o High productivity – Gross Domestic Product (GDP)

Business is booming and expanding, high gross domestic  product

GDP- values of all goods and services produced in a given time  and place

o Low unemployment – Unemployment rate and Current  Population Survey

there are jobs available for people

o Low inflation – Consumer Pricing Index (CPI)

People are spending money and buying what they need and  want

∙ Types of economic policies:

o Monetary policy and inflation

-availability of money, responsibility of federal reserve

Needs to be just the right amount of money to be available Too little – growth slows as investment/expansion are less  feasible

Too much – inflation rises; spending declines

Tools: Reserve requirement: banks, financial institutions must  not lend out all of their money  

Discount rate: interest rate when banks borrow money from the  Federal Reserve

o Fiscal policy (includes discussion between Pres. Obama and Joe  the Plumber & which presidents have followed these  


 Keynesian economics

during a recession, government should lower taxes and  

spend more(Bush and Obama), in good time do  


 Supply side economics

Lower taxes and lower regulations

o Problems with fiscal policy


Budgetary process- Lots of red tape, President makes  

recommendations to Congress, which has its own procedures for passing a budget

Politics - Everyone hates taxes, so politicians try to  accommodate their interests. Therefore, we have LOTS of tax  loopholes  

Globalization- You can create excellent plans, but then  something happens in another country, and your plans won’t  work

Ex. Brexit . Trump wants to pull out/ renegotiate trade deals like  NAFTA and TPP

o Regulatory policy (be able to recognize examples)  Business regulations

often trying to maintain healthy competition, preventing  monopolies, etc.

 Social regulations

insuring worker safety, environmental protection, etc

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