AP U.S. Government Notes

Chapter 14: The Judiciary


Judicial review – The power of a court to refuse to enforce a law or government regulation that in the opinion of the judges conflicts with the U.S. Constitution or, in a state court, the state constitution.

Adversary system – A judicial system in which the court of law is a neutral arena where two parties argue their differences.

Criminal law – A law that defines crimes against the public order.

Civil law – A law that governs relationships between individuals and defines their legal rights.

Justiciable dispute – A dispute growing out of an actual case or controversy and that is capable of settlement by legal methods.

Defendant – In a criminal action, the person or party accused of an offense.

Plea bargain – Agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid having to stand trial for a more serious offense.

Public defender system – Arrangement whereby public officials are hired to provide legal assistance to people accused of crimes who are unable to hire their own attorneys.

Original jurisdiction – The authority of a court to hear a case “in the first instance.”

Appellate jurisdiction – The authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts.

Court of appeals – A court with appellate jurisdiction that hears appeals from the decisions of lower courts.

Precedent – A decision made by a higher court such as a circuit court of appeals or the Supreme Court that is binding on all other federal courts.

Writ of habeas corpus A court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is being held in custody.

Senatorial courtesy – Presidential custom of submitting the names of prospective appointees for approval to senators from the states in which the appointees are to work.

Judicial restraint – Philosophy proposing that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect what the framers intended and what its words literally say.

Judicial activism – Philosophy proposing that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect current conditions and values.

Stare decisis The rule of precedent, whereby a rule or law contained in a judicial decision is commonly viewed as binding on judges whenever the same question is presented.

Writ of certiorari – A formal writ used to bring a case before the Supreme Court.

Docket – The list of potential cases that reach the Supreme Court.

Amicus curiae brief – Literally, a “friend of the court” brief, filed by an individual or organization to present arguments in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case.

Opinion of the Court – An explanation of the decision of the Supreme Court or any other appellate court.

Dissenting opinion – An opinion disagreeing with a majority in a Supreme Court ruling.

Concurring opinion – An opinion that agrees with the majority in a Supreme Court ruling but differs on the reasoning.


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How to cite this note (with MLA)

Aboukhadijeh, Feross. "Chapter 14: The Judiciary" StudyNotes.org. StudyNotes, Inc., 17 Nov. 2012. Web. 31 Oct. 2014. <//www.apstudynotes.org/us-government/vocabulary/chapter-14-the-judiciary/>.
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