Notes, 1:00 p.m., Spring 2001; March 7, 2001




The Federal Level


In 1998, the House of Representatives impeached, or brought charges, against President Clinton with the Articles of Impeachment.  Though the charges against President Clinton are made by the House of Representatives, all 100 United States Senators are the ‘federal jury’ who decide whether to convict him or not.


Since 1994, the Republicans have had a majority in the Senate.  But only a minority of U.S. Senators voted to convict President Clinton of the charges brought against him.  Some Republican Senators voted not to convict him.  So those Senators who voted to convict President Clinton did not have the two-thirds majority needed for conviction.


In the impeachment of President Clinton, the Senators who voted to convict President were in the minority.  That means

less than half of the United States Senators voted to convict President Clinton of the charges brought against him.


Only one other President of the United States has ever been impeached.  That man was Andrew Johnson.  In 1865, he became the President of the United States after the assassination of Abraham Lincoln in 1865.  Like President Clinton, he was impeached by the U.S. House of Representatives, tried by the U.S. Senate and was acquitted.


After the Watergate scandal, President Richard M. Nixon lost the support of Congress.  As the House of Representatives were preparing to bring charges against him, he resigned the Presidency on August 9, 1974.  A trial by the U.S. Senate for possible removal of office was no longer needed.  Vice-President Gerald R. Ford became President.  Like Andrew Johnson, Gerald Ford was not elected to the Presidency. 





Injunction – A court order designed to prevent harm. *Note:  A judge is the only person who can order an injunction.


Indictment – Charges that are brought forth by a grand jury.


Impeachment – Charges that are brought forth from the House of Representatives.


An Information – A charge that issued by a prosecutor to accuse a person of a crime.




Types of Law


Criminal Law seeks punishment.  The plaintiff is always the government.  In a criminal case, a jury must find the defendant

“guilty” beyond a reasonable doubt.  This is a very hard standard to meet.


Civil Law seeks compensation.  The plaintiff is an individual or individuals who seeks compensation for harm or damages.

Civil law settles liability (which means responsibility).  A civil jury is not under the same standard as a criminal jury.


Example:  O.J. Simpson was acquitted of the criminal charges brought against him, but the families of the murdered victims brought a civil case against him.  Simpson was found liable (or responsible) for the deaths of the victims.  He has to compensate monetarily because a civil jury found him liable.



Types of Crimes


A misdemeanor is a crime that is punishable by less than one year in the county jail.


A felony is a more serious crime, punishable by a year in the state penitentiary.



California State Courts


California has 58 Superior Courts, one court for each county.  The Superior Courts are part of the state court system.

Charges made by the state, as the plaintiff, against any defendant who may have committed a crime, may be filed in Superior Court.



Small Claims Division of the Federal Tax Court


If a person from California has a dispute with the Internal Revenue Service, he or she can go to the Federal Building in Westwood and fill out the proper forms to file their complaint.  An attorney is not needed to settle this dispute.  The dispute

is settled in the Small Claims Division of the Federal Tax Court.