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
In the news recently there have been a number of articles and stories about the condition of the drinking water in Flint, Michigan. The quality of our drinking water is important to all of us no matter where we live. In the U.S., the Environmental Protection Agency monitors annual water quality reports known as “Consumer Confidence Reports” or “CCRs.”
All community water systems must prepare and provide an annual water quality report to its customers by July 1st of each year covering the previous calendar year. Information contained in the CCR includes source of the water, levels of any contaminants, … 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
In Michigan, assessment and property tax records are maintained through each county’s Equalization Office. Assessment and property tax records include information such as:
• Owner Name and Taxpayer Name (if different)
• Property Location (Street Address)
• Land Description (Size of Lot and Zoning)
• Sale Information (Sale Date, Sale Price, Grantor and Grantee)
• Assessment Information (Year, Assessed Value and Taxable Value)
Assessment and property tax records can be used for a variety of purposes. You can determine the owner of a certain property, the sales price of a comparable property or the “assessed value” of your own property … 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
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
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
Unless you live in Delaware, Mississippi, or Tennesse, you may not be familiar with the term Chancery Court. But Chancery Courts were part of the English judicial system for hundreds of years, were brought to the American colonies, and were part of most U.S. states’ early judicial systems.
The name itself originated outside of the judicial system; in Europe, starting with the Roman Empire, the Chancellor was in charge of government records. When today’s English legal system first began to develop after the Norman Conquest, the Chancery was the public records office, under the direction of the Lord Chancellor. Because … Read More
Actually, the correct question is “What is a Friend of the Court?” The Friend of the Court we’re describing here is not a person. There is a different type of “friend of the court” who can be a person – or a group or organization – who files a brief in an appellate court case. If they are not a party to the case, they are an amicus curiae (Latin for “friend of the court”). They may be providing additional information to help the court take a broader view of the issue on appeal, or they may be providing additional … 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