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  • The Judicial Branch

    When you get into an argument with someone, how do you settle it? Sometimes it takes a teacher or a parent to help settle it, but if that problem involves a law, that’s when the court system of our judicial branch is called into action.

    Support Materials


    1. Explain the purpose of appellate level courts.

    2. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony?

    3. Why do you think there is a special court that specifically deals with juveniles?


    1. Invite a local member of the judicial court system to talk to the class about his/her role and responsibilities in the system.

    2. To prevent bias and unfair punishments, some states have mandatory sentences for certain crimes. (For example, a person convicted of kidnapping must be sentenced to at least 14 years in Georgia.) Have students discuss which crimes, if any, should have mandatory punishments and have them explain their reasonings.


    Appeal: a process in which a decision is studied and accepted or rejected by a higher court or by someone in authority

    Delinquent: a young person who regularly does illegal or immoral things

    Dispute: a disagreement or argument

    Felony: a crime, typically one involving violence, regarded as more serious than a misdemeanor, and usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year

    Habeas Corpus: an order to bring a jailed person before a judge or court to find out if that person should really be in jail

    Interpret: to explain the meaning of (something)

    Jurisdiction: the power or right to make judgments about the law, to arrest and punish criminals, etc.

    Juvenile: relating to or meant for young people

    Mediator: to work with opposing sides in an argument or dispute in order to get an agreement

    Misdemeanor: a crime that is not very serious

    Trial: a formal meeting in a court in which evidence about crimes, disagreements, etc., is presented to a judge and often a jury so that decisions can be made according to the law

    Violation: the act of doing something that is not allowed by a law or rule

    For Teachers

    Discussion Guide

    1. Explain the purpose of appellate level courts. Appellate level courts do not conduct trials. Instead, they hear appeals from lower level courts. An appeal is when a higher court reviews a decision from a lower court and determines if the decision was justly made.

    2. What is the difference between a misdemeanor and a felony? A misdemeanor is a less serious crime, like trespassing or a traffic violation. A felony is a more serious crime, like the sale of illegal drugs or stealing a car, and usually result in a year or more in prison.

    3. Why do you think there is a special court that specifically deals with juveniles? Answers may vary, but many will include reasons that because children are not fully developed and behave and think differently than adults, juveniles require a unique judicial system. While there are some similarities between the two systems, the juvenile justice system maintains rehabilitation as its primary goal and all youth are entitled (and often required) to attend school.

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