A Justice Site
CSUDH Habermas UWP
California State University, Dominguez Hills
University of Wisconsin, Parkside
Created: June 6, 2001
Latest update: February 21 , 2002
- advocacy and dominant discourse
- the trier of fact - The judge, or the jury, who will balance the arguments and make the decision to resolve the case. ONLY the trial court hears witnesses, explores the evidence, and decides what the facts of the case are. The trial court is the trier of fact. Higher courts on appeal examine only issues of law.
- appellate court - The court of appeal receives the record from the trial court, in the form of a transcript, and an order from the trial court, stating it's findings and what it has ordered. The appellate court does not call witnesses. It relies on the record, as the facts found by the trial court are now accepted as the actual facts. That is, the facts reflected in the trial court's order are now "legal truth."
- legal truth - Legal truth is the facts as found by the trial court. That is, the trier of fact is the one (or ones) who decides whether Witness X or Witness Y is telling the truth. Once the trial court has decided that, no higher court will recall the witnesses or substitute its judgment for the judgment of the trier of fact. That is because it is assumed that the trier of fact, who actually had the opportunity to observe the witness and hear the witness cross-examined has the best opportunity to judge the truth or falsity of the testimony. Higher courts deal with issues of law only: was the law misinterpreted by the lower court? was the law inappropriately applied by the lower court? or did the lower court's finding stretch the record to draw its conclusions so that no reasonable person could possibly have come to that conclusion, based on the record that stands now before the appellate court.
- officer of the court - All attorneys are officers of the court. They are sworn in in a cermony once they have passed the bar. This means that attorneys swear to uphold the law, and so may not suborn perjury. That means they cannot knowingly permit someone to commit a fraud upon the court by lying.
- a standard - the expectation to which the court itself is held. For example, "beyond reasonable doubt," is a standard. So also is the standard for sufficiency of the evidence, stated above. To find that the evidence in the record insufficient to support the conclusion on which the trier of fact based his/her/their decision, the court is held to the standard that "no reasonable person could possibly have come to the conclusion the trier of fact came to." That's a pretty hard standard to beat, so decisions are rarely overturned on sufficiency of the evidence. Another standard is that the higher court will not "substitute its judgment for the judgment of the court below, even if it disagrees with the conclusion of the court below.
- Up soon.