Imágenes de páginas


ARTICLE V. — JUDICIAL DEPARTMENT 268, General Provision-Section 1. The Judicial power shall be vested in a Supreme Court, District Court, and such other courts, inferior to the Supreme Court, as the General Assembly may from time to time establish.

The General Assembly has acted on the authority here granted, and has established various inferior courts, some of which have since been abolished. A description of the circuit court, which for a time shared in the work of the district court, will be given later (273)

The outline as shown on page 244 shows the court system of Iowa as it is to-day:

269. The Supreme Court.-Sec 2. The Supreme Court shall consist of three Judges, two of whom shall constitute a quorum to hold court,

Sec. 3. The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be elected by the qualified electors of the State, and shall hold their court at such time and place as the General Assembly may prescribe. The Judges of the Supreme Court so elected shall be classified so that one Judge shall go out of office every two years; and the Judge holding the shortest term of office under such classification shall be Chief Justice of the court, during his term, and so on in rotation. After the expiration of their terms of office, under such classification, the term of each Judge of the Supreme Court shall be six years, and until his successor shall have been elected and qualified. The Judges of the Supreme Court shall be ineligible to any other office in the State during the term for which they have been elected.

[blocks in formation]

District Court.





4 yrs.

[blocks in formation]

General Election Original

1. Civil cases involving over

$100. 2. Criminal cases involving fines

of over $100.

Imprisonment over 30 days.

Appellate 4 yrs.

Municipal Election i From all lower courts. 2 yrs. Municipal Election Civil cases involving not over $100

or (with consent of both parties)


Municipal Election Criminal Cases involving

Fines not over $100,

Imprisonment not over 30 days.
2 General Election Appeals allowed in

Civil cases involving over $25.
Criminal Cases-always.

Mayor's Court.





[ocr errors]

2+to Court of Justice of the Peace...





* Allowed in cities of 7,000 inhabitants. Such courts were established in Keokuk, Cedar Rapids, Council Bluffs, and Creston, but the court at Creston has been abolished.

Sec. 4. The Supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction only in cases in chancery, and shall constitute a court for the correction of errors at law, under such restrictions as the General Assembly may, by law, prescribe; and shall have power to issue all writs and processes necessary to secure justice to parties, and exercise a supervisory control over all inferior judicial tribunals throughout the State.

Section 10'allows the General Assembly to change the number of judges in the supreme and district courts, and changes have been made at various times. At present there are six judges in the supreme court, one of whom goes out of office each year. Notice that a judge of the supreme court may not resign his place on the bench to accept any other office in the State of Iowa.

Cases in chancery are cases where the strict application of the law would not work justice. Such cases are also called cases in equity. They are apt to arise in connection with partnerships, and in connection with contracts where a claim is made that an understanding exists between the parties not strictly in accordance with the wording of the contract. Errors at law are erroneous decisions by the judge of the lower court on the meaning or application of the law touching the case. In cases of appeal, the supreme court does not retry a law-case, but reviews the decisions of the lower courts, and, if wrong decisions have been made, they are revised or modified and a new trial is required in the district court.

270. Writs and Processes. Writs of mandamus are orders issued by a superior court commanding an officer to perform his duty in some particular. A

refusal to obey such a writ is an offense called contempt of court, and is punished by fine and even by imprisonment. Not very long ago a titled and wealthy lady in England destroyed certain papers belonging to the evidence before the court in a case in which she was interested. The court declared her to be guilty of contempt, and sentenced her to six weeks imprisonment in Holloway Street Jail. Even an appeal to the Home Secretary could not save this lady of rank from serving her sentence. The dignity and authority of the court must be preserved.

Writs of injunction are orders issued by a court requiring parties to do or refrain from doing certain acts, either private or official. A writ of injunction is more generally used as a preventive than as a restorative process, although by no means confined to the former. Writs of mandamus and injunction may be and frequently are issued by lower courts, as the district court.

271, The District Court.-Sec. 5. The District Court shall consist of a single Judge, who shall be elected by the qualified electors of the District in which he resides. The Judge of the District Court shall hold his office for the term of four years, and until his successor shall have been elected and qualified; and shall be ineligible to any other office, except that of Judge of the Supreme Court, during the term for which he was elected.

Notice that the district judge may resign to accept the office of supreme judge.

Sec. 6. The District Court shall be a court of law and equity, which shall be distinct and separate jurisdictions, and have jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters arising in their respective districts, in such manner as shall be prescribed by law.

Equity is natural justice as distinguished from legal justice. Equitable jurisprudence in England and the United States grew up from the inadequacy of common law forms to secure justice in all cases. Equity cases are also called cases in chancery. Formerly equity cases and law cases were tried in different courts, and today the Court of Chancery in England sits at London, while the judges of the law courts go in circuit to the different counties. Cases in law and cases in equity are now commonly tried in the same court, acting in different capacities. This is the case in the district courts of Iowa, which sometimes sit as law courts and sometimes as equity courts. A lawyer was defending his client in a court of law in this State, and claimed that there was a distinct understanding between his client and the other party to the contract, putting a peculiar and uncommon construction on certain phrases in that contract. The judge reminded the lawyer that if he wished to introduce evidence of intentions at variance with the letter of contract, he must bring the case before a court of equity, and that the court was at present sitting as a court of law.

272. Civil and Criminal Cases.—Civil cases are those involving the private rights of individuals or corporations. In such cases, one party, called the plaintiff, brings suit against the other party, who is called the defendant. Both parties may be priva e individuals, or either may be a corporation. A fundamental principle of law is that a sovereign state may not be sued by an individual, but the United States has provided a court of claims to consider and pass judgment upon claims of citizens against the United

« AnteriorContinuar »