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U.S Court Systems Essay

The Government of the United States is composed of three major branches; the Executive, Legislative, and Judicial Branch. The Judicial department is responsible for the interpretation of the laws created by the legislative department. Its responsibility as a whole is to act as an arbiter, to oversee that the three branches of the Government are not committing any grave abuse of discretion in exercising their respective powers within the limits defined by the U. S. constitution.

It is of tantamount importance that the fragile balance be kept between these three branches of government, otherwise there would not be any clear delineation of powers, causing chaos to eventually ensue in the system. The intent of the framers of the U. S. constitution is for the power to reside not in the government itself but in the hands of its citizenry, this intention led to the adoption of Federalism by the Judiciary. Federalism, is a structure created by the U.

S Constitution to enable the sharing of powers between the federal government and the state governments of each of the 50 states. Under the concept of federalism, there are two types of court systems—federal and state. The Federal and The State court systems are responsible for hearing certain types of cases, it should be noted that these two systems although different and considered separate are not totally independent of the other. These two systems often converge, especially since solving legal disputes and vindicating legal rights are both objectives of the two court systems.

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Federal courts have jurisdiction over issues mentioned or implied in the Constitution. These courts are referred to as “the guardians of the Constitution”. because the rulings it promulgates is essentially based on the protection of rights and liberties which are guaranteed by the U. S. Constitution. The said system enables a more active participation of its citizens in promulgating decisions by allowing them the liberty of becoming jurors and witnesses in court hearings, as well as allowing them the option to work as court system employees.

The state courts, on the other hand have jurisdiction over matters not mentioned in the Constitution and those not specifically denied to the states by the Constitution. Both civil and criminal cases are heard and tried by these two federal courts system. III. U. S. Major Court Systems a. ) Supreme Court Under the Federal and State court systems, there are two subsidiary courts namely; trial courts and appellate courts. Trial courts, also called U. S. District Courts, are courts of original jurisdiction. They are the first courts to hear either a civil or criminal case.

In case of any doubts concerning the ruling given by the primary courts, an appeal to review the ruling made by the lower court could be made to the appellate court which is also known as U. S. Circuit Court of Appeals. If there are still any doubts concerning the ruling made by the appellate court, the said question of law would be escalated to the U. S. Supreme court. The said court adheres to a set of guidelines given by congress in promulgating its decisions. The Supreme Court is presided over by the Chief Justice of the U. S and eight associate Justices.

Under the Supreme Court there are other subsidiary courts that arbitrates for cases of lesser magnitude. The Supreme Court is the highest court under the federal and state judiciary system. In general, the Supreme Court is tasked to hear and promulgate the final decision of all cases escalated to it by the appellate courts. The Supreme Court is the highest court and therefore it follows that the rulings it promulgates would be deemed final, no other court could question its rulings because of the fact that this is the highest tribunal of the land.

It must be noted that the Supreme court generally is the highest appellate court, However when it comes to constitutional or federal issues it is the proper court to address the said questions to, meaning it should be the court as to which the said resolution should be filed in the first instance. b. ) State Courts In addition to the Supreme Courts there are other courts which handles cases of lesser significance or magnitude. One of the said courts which handles such cases would be the so-called State Courts.

These courts hear both civil and criminal cases, as well as family, probate, and juvenile cases. In case of any appeal on decisions rendered by the said court, the next level of judicial authority would be residing with the States’ Court of Appeals. The State’s Court of Appeals have original jurisdiction to hear cases concerning habeas corpus, mandamus, certiorari, and prohibition proceedings. It has appellate jurisdiction only when superior courts have original jurisdiction, and in certain other cases prescribed by statute.

Any appeal concerning the decision would be delegated further to the Supreme Court. However, it must be noted that the Supreme court in this case has the discretion to choose which decisions it should review, with the sole exception of rulings imposing the penalty of death to the accused. In this case, the judicial review is deemed mandatory. c. ) Municipal Courts (State of Arizona) The jurisdiction of the municipal court would fall on offenses concerning civil traffic, minor criminal traffic, parking, and environmental charges.

The rules pertaining to arraignment on this court precludes that an accused can only be brought to trial only after a formal complaint has been filed. A copy of the complaint is given to the accused when the complaint is made, otherwise it is given upon the arraignment of the accused. The types of offenses that are heard in the Civil Division courtrooms include civil traffic, minor criminal traffic, parking, and environmental charges. Major criminal traffic and non-traffic criminal misdemeanor violations are heard in the Criminal Division courtrooms.

The Municipal Court also handles Orders of Protection and Injunctions Against Harassment. If the accused has the intention to file an appeal on a rendered ‘final decision’ by the municipal court, the said appeal must be made within 10 days after the judgment was rendered. An appeal bond may be requested to stop the sentence execution to be imposed on the accused. The costs for duplicating the recording in order to advance the said appeal. It must be noted that the appeal is not a retrial of the case, hence new evidence presented will not be rendered admissible.

d. ) Justice Courts The limits of the jurisdiction of Justice courts are specified by law. It is basically a court of law which process misdemeanor violations punishable by fines of not more than $2,500 or imprisonment in county jail for more than six months or both. The said court however may also issue search warrants in aid of felony crime investigations. A trial may be before a judge or a jury. The Jury commissioner would be the one in charge of summoning Jurors by the use of jury pools.

In this set-up it is the state which shoulders the burden of proving the guilt beyond reasonable doubt of the accused. The sentence being implemented is absolutely dependent on the discretion of the judge. IV. Conclusion It is of utmost import that people should know the extent or limitation of powers of the court of jurisdiction in which a case is being filed to avoid any inconvenience which might occur in the end because of an incorrect action concerning the filing of an action.

It should also be emphasized that regardless of the name or nature of the said court pf jurisdiction under the Federal Court system, the said classification could be made simpler by just mentioning the fact that the Federal court is composed of three courts namely: District Courts, Appellate Courts, and the Supreme court. The usage of the term ‘superior court’ actually pertains to an appellate court which renders judgment to a case which was decided upon previously by a lower court, and that these courts have a limitation to try and hear a case in conjunction to the authority handed over to them by the U.

S Constitution. In contrast to the federal courts, it should also be noted that he marked difference between the federal and state court is that the federal court actually presupposes the filing of an action from a lower court to an appellate court for escalation, while the state court hears and tries anything brought before it, without actually undergoing the process of escalation from lower court to higher court, since state courts are only subject to the limitation imposed by the constitution and not to the designation of limits pertaining to the court levels.


U. S. Courts (2007).‘Federal Courts in a Nutshell’. Retrieved September 11, 2007 http://www. uscourts. gov/outreach/resources/federalcourtnutshell. htm Judicial Council of California (2007). ‘About California Courts’. Retrieved September 11, 2007. http://www. courtinfo. ca. gov/courts/about. htm Phoenix Government (2007). ‘Understanding Court Procedures’ Retrieved September 11, 2007 http://phoenix. gov/COURT/courtpro. html#offense Superior Court of Marinduque (2007). ‘Justice outskirts – General Information’. Retrieved September 11, 2007 http://www. superiorcourt. maricopa. gov/justiceCourts/Info/genInfo. asp

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