Unit 2: An Introduction to
the American Judicial System
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Unit Overview:

With dramatic flare, our undaunted heroine attorney says "I won't stop until I get justice: even if it means taking this all the way to the Supreme Court!" Hollywood and Real Court TV shapes our perception of what lawyers do and what it is like in a courtroom. Some of it is accurate; most of it is not. In actuality, the vast majority of attorneys never step into a courtroom. Their careers are devoted to keeping their clients out of court! Going to trial is the last step. In this unit, we will overview how this Hollywood image of the courtroom is but the very tip of the huge iceberg that is the American judicial system. We will discuss how a trial court works and the "hows" and "whys" a case reaches "the Supremes." We will also look at some methods used every day to resolve disputes before they go to court.

Life Long Learnings:

  • Settlements in civil cases and plea bargaining in criminal cases highlight how the need for efficiency and expediency can sometime conflict with the core value of justice.

  • The Constitutional concept of federalism has created a complex network of court which are governed by a complex series of rules and procedures.

  • An attorney's first and foremost duty is to "zealously represent" her client may produce an ethical and moral dilemmas for the attorney.

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