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Playlist Overview by Rachel Curry

    The court system is divided into two separate areas: Federal and State. In the federal system, cases are tried first at U.S. District Court, then the U.S. Court of Appeals, and then potentially U.S. Supreme Court. The state system follows the order of cases beginning in Trial Court, then the Appellate Court, and then potentially the Highest State Court and then potentially the U.S. Supreme Court. There are two types of cases: civil cases and criminal cases. In civil cases, people, groups, or companies bring suits against another individual, group, or company. Once a case is filed a pre-trial or status conference is set. After this, the case goes to trial. After the trial, the parties involved are able to begin the appeals process. The procedure is similar for criminal cases. A person or sometimes a company/organization is accused of a crime and then charged by the state or federal government. There is a pre-trial and then a trial. If found guilty, sometimes there will be a sentencing hearing. After if the accused is not acquitted they can begin the appeals process.

    In most instances, civil case are tried in state systems while criminal cases are tried in federal systems. The exceptions are when civil cases are based on infringements of constitutional rights such as those in the 1st or 14th Amendment. Additionally, when criminal cases occur because of the breach of federal laws the accused will be tried in the federal system. In both types of cases, after the initial trial, an appeal can be filed. Appeals are filed to look to see if an “error of law” was made in the previous trial that compromised the ruling or outcome. In terms of what is at stake, in civil cases, usually damages are at stake and usually these damages are money, and in criminal cases, usually prison time, fines, probation, or community service are at stake. When comparing these two types of cases further, proving the evidence in the cases are different. In a civil case where the case is a Plaintiff vs. Respondent, usually a preponderance of evidence is the standard of evidence for tors, but is usually clear and convincing evidences for 1st amendment cases. In a criminal case where the case is the Government vs. Defendant, the standard is innocent until proven guilty and that the proof must be beyond a reasonable doubt as set by evidentiary standard that prosecutors must prove.

    Most Media Law cases are civil cases and are lawsuits. Types of media law cases include first amendment trials (free speech, censorship, free press), libel, privacy, internet law, copyright and fair use, commercial speech and advertising, access to information, broadcast regulation, and obscenity and indecency. Here we have focused on the how the 14th amendment has impacted communication law, basics of courts and the grounds on how to find both federal and legal documents.

 How to Navigate This Site: Within this playlist are 4 documents and 5 other playlists, which have documents within them. Each link on the playlist, whether it is to another playlist or a document, will open in another tab. The links on documents to other websites (external links) will open on the current page.


  • A Practical Guide to Media Law by Ashley Messenger
  • http://litigation.findlaw.com/filing-a-lawsuit/appealing-a-court-decision-or-judgment.html

Text Information

April 20, 2016

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Adina Marx

American University

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