General Litigation Newsletters
Domestic violence against women is increasingly common in the United States. The United States Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, estimates that at least one million violent crimes are committed against former spouses or intimate partners each year. The vast majority of these victims are women. Prior domestic violence and the abuser's access to a firearm greatly increase the likelihood that a female intimate partner will become a homicide victim.
Drug-related crimes are widespread, and specialized courts have been set up to deal with drug cases. Drugs courts recognize the connection between addiction and criminal behavior. Many addicts commit crimes to get money to support their drug habits. Drug courts use a therapeutic justice model, which includes treatment services to address defendants' substance abuse problems. Almost all states currently have drug courts, and some states have set up juvenile drug courts to handle delinquency cases involving juveniles with substance abuse issues.
The federal court system has an intermediate level appellate court, which is called the court of appeals. The President of the United States appoints all federal judges, including federal court of appeals judges. However, the United States Senate has to confirm each appointment. Federal judges are appointed for life.
Every state has a code of judicial conduct that sets ethical guidelines for judges. All states have judicial conduct commissions with the power to investigate, prosecute, and decide cases of judicial misconduct. There is also a code of conduct for federal judges. The code of judicial conduct requires a judge to avoid not only impropriety but also the appearance of impropriety. The code of judicial conduct also covers judicial integrity, independence, diligence and impartiality. Membership in discriminatory organizations is currently a controversial topic.
States have enacted Sunshine Laws to ensure governmental integrity and accountability. Sunshine Laws require governmental bodies (commissions, boards, advisory committees, and agencies) to hold open public meetings, deliberations, and votes, unless otherwise provided by law. Sunshine Laws also guarantee public access to the records of governmental bodies, unless provided otherwise by law.