Here at CourtReference, we’ve quite familiar with the court systems in every state. Unless you have business with courts in many different states, you may not be aware of how different court systems can be from state to state.
The basic structure is not so different; each state usually has a trial court in which the parties argue both the facts and the law in front of a judge or jury. The judge decides how to apply the law, and the judge or jury decides which facts are true and which are not – in other words, which party … Read More
Many businesses and government agencies give special treatment to people over a certain age. That age limit is usually around 60, 65, or somewhere in between. If you’re a “senior”, an “elder”, or otherwise in that category, you can usually get discounts from private enterprise on things like meals, hotels, and movie tickets. From the government, you can get a lifetime pass to National Parks for only $10.
When it comes to the justice system, seniors don’t get any breaks. If you’re accused of a crime, or sued for damages, the law only cares about your age if you’re a … Read More
Businesses, organizations, units of government, even many individuals have websites. It’s no surprise that many courts also have websites. As with any other entity’s website, some court websites are better than others: easier to see what’s there, easier to navigate, with more content.
On some court websites, it’s obvious at first glance how to contact the court by mail and phone, how to search case records and court calendars, how to locate and download the forms you need, and how to pay fines online. An explanation of the court’s process; the types of cases the court handles; and links to … Read More
Our 2008 blog post about mental illness cases introduced two aspects of that topic. Last month we covered Mental Health Courts – specialized court programs which can set up treatment in lieu of incarceration for some criminal offenders with mental health problems. For those offenders, their mental illness may have been a contributing factor in their commission of a crime, but is not severe enough to warrant commitment to a mental institution.
In order to be committed, a mentally-ill person must be dangerous to himself or herself or to others, or be unable to care for himself or herself. Criteria … Read More
Lately there have been a disturbing number of news reports about mentally-ill people being shot by police. The need for better training of police to deal with the mentally ill has been amply covered by other blogs. But mentally-ill people who survive their encounter with law enforcement have a chance for better treatment from the court system – and that’s where this blog comes in.
Back in 2008 we touched on two different aspects of court procedure involving people with mental health problems. A court system’s involvement with a mentally ill person may occur when the person is facing involuntary … Read More
Part of our job here at CourtReference – in addition to making sure that court contact information and links to court websites and other resources are up to date – is to provide a brief explanation of each state’s trial court system. When you select a state on CourtReference, the next page you see has a list of that state’s trial courts, an explanation of each, and a chart showing which types of cases are heard by each court.
Most state trial court systems are fairly simple, with one or two levels of general-jurisdiction courts in each county. We’ve … Read More
This blog has discussed many ways to find a lawyer, from how to decide whether or not you really need a lawyer to evaluating a prospective lawyer by using online resources and checking disciplinary records. In between, we covered ways to find free legal help here and here; lawyer referral services here, here, and here; using lawyers for limited services; even finding legal help during a natural disaster.
After using all these resources – or after getting a recommendation from a friend – you’ve found a lawyer to take your case. So far, … Read More
In our July 2008 post about juvenile court records, we noted that most juvenile court records are confidential. This is done to protect the juvenile, on the theory that juveniles are more prone to bad decisions than adults (i.e., they do “dumb things”), but that they can be rehabilitated. Law enforcement agencies and the court system can see juvenile records, but the general public cannot.
Background checks for the purposes of employment and housing – and sometimes for college admission, financial aid, etc. – are the general public’s main interest in court records. Since most juveniles are not yet … Read More
State trial court systems don’t change their structures often. Most are established by state constitutions, although some are established by acts of the state legislature. Some states have a mix of both; a prime example is Texas, which has both “Constitutional” County Courts (one in each county) and “Statutory” County Courts (commonly called Courts at Law; from none to many in each county, depending mainly on the county’s population). Given the difficulty of changing a state constitution, and the contentiousness present in most state legislative actions, it’s easy to see why court systems are generally left alone.
Texas actually … Read More