Types of Courts: An Analysis
Social science subject studies nowadays are more glued in understanding crimes and its control in the society (Miller 2). This understanding has something to do with justice and its role in controlling crime rates. According to a political philosopher, justice is approved, and injustice condemned, by the common agreement of good men (Curtis 323). Justice is one of the most important ingredients of peace and harmony in a given community. It is not denied that many people would tend to commit crimes due to the freedom of choosing one’s own actions. But any consequences to the said choices of actions are beyond the control of the criminal and left to the discretion of the authorities who implements the law. With that, the government must implement the laws and see to it that justice is properly served. Besides, justice delayed is justice denied which makes our government authorities more responsible in the proper implementation and administration of the same.
The existence of courts in our judicial system is indispensable in the proper administration of justice. Courts are just part of the judicial system but its proper administration affects the way justice is effectively administered for the welfare of the people. Without the running of an effective and efficient court system, cases will not be tried and heard in an orderly manner. Hence, it is proper and meritorious to study the courts and its different kinds in our judicial system.
In this paper, the types of courts will be discussed. But prior to its discussion, the history of courts will be tackled. It will be followed by a discussion on the importance of courts and its classification in our society as well as the linkage of the same to the present criminal justice system. Lastly, a conclusion will be given to close the topic of the paper.
History of Courts
Although the U. S. Constitution vested the Supreme Court with judicial power, there is no specific delineation as to the entire structure of the judicial branch of government (Longley 1). The Congress and the Justices of the Supreme Court was given the responsibility for the organization of the judiciary. Historically, the first court which is called the Supreme Court was allowed to operate last February 1, 1790 (Longley 1). The first court was housed at Merchants Exchange Building in New York City (Longley 1).
Revisiting the first court, we will discover the basic development of the judicial system then. The first Supreme Court was operated by John Jay of New York, and his Associate Justices is composed of John Rutledge, William Cushing, James Wilson, John Blair, and James Iredell (Longley 1). It was only in the year 1792 when the first Supreme Court heard and decided its first case. Due to the inability of the Supreme Court authorities to fully exercise its judicial power, there were no clear steps on how to run the judicial system. When President John Adams appointed John Marshall as the Chief Justice in the year 1801, the whole structure of the judiciary was developed and changed to suit the needs of time. The establishment of other courts strengthened the justice system and the Supreme Court eventually heard and decided landmark cases. In a landmark case decided by John Marshall, judiciary power was delineated and the Supreme Court was allowed to interpret the Constitution and declare any legislation of Congress constitutional or not.
Type of Courts
The courts of justice serve as the platform where the cases of aggrieved parties can be tried, heard, and decided upon by a judge. With that, there are myriad types of courts. But before discussing on that, we must know that there are two systems of courts in the United States and these are federal court systems and state court systems (Radcliffe & Brinson 1). For both of the said court systems, it is composed of two levels of courts. These levels include the trial courts and the appellate courts. Trial courts are those courts that hear, try, and decide cases. Also, trial courts are considered superior courts (New York State Unified Court System 1). If an adverse party wants to elevate the decision of the trial courts, the appellate courts review the decisions of the trial courts. Appellate courts are higher court that reviews the decision of a lower court when a losing party files for an appeal (Nolo 2).
On the other hand, the federal court system is subdivided into thirteen judicial circuits. With that, eleven of the circuits are constituted. Besides, each of the numbered circuits has additional one state (Radcliffe & Brinson 1). For example, the Ninth Circuit comprises California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Nevada, Arizona, Alaska, and Hawaii (Radcliffe & Brinson 1). The 12th and 13th circuits are the District of Columbia Circuit and the Federal Circuit. The Federal Circuit handles appeals in patent cases and Claims Court cases (Radcliffe & Brinson 1). In line with that, each federal circuit has a single appellate court. Essentially, these courts are identified as Courts of Appeals or Circuit Courts (Radcliffe & Brinson 1).
With respect to appellate jurisdiction, the Supreme Court reviews the judgments of the Courts of Appeals. In connection, each federal circuit is separated into judicial districts. A district can be as diminutive as one city or as huge as a complete state (Radcliffe & Brinson 1). Lastly, the trial courts are known as the United States District Courts.
Importance of the Types of Courts to Criminal Justice
It is important to know the types of courts because it will affect how we view the over-all judicial system of the government. An individual must be guided on how he would redress grievances and exercise rights while living in the community. In connection, there are four basic reasons why courts and its classification are vital to the criminal justice system of the country.
First, the administration of trial courts is necessary because factual and legal issues are tried in Trial Courts in its original and even appellate jurisdiction. It is in the trial courts wherein novel issues based on the claims of the parties to the case are being tried. Without proper delineation of proper court jurisdiction, it would be difficult to determine genuine issues that must be studied based on the law in order to come up with a fair decision. Second, reviews of decisions or judgments in lower courts are reviewed in the superior courts. The aggrieved party who lost his case in the lower court may elevate his claims before the appellate courts. This manner of litigation is proper and it makes the disposition of cases speedy and fair.
In connection with that, there is proper exhaustion of remedies before the courts of justice when courts are properly classified. It is not feasible and pragmatic to allow party-litigants to file their cases directly to the higher courts before seeking relief from lower courts. Thus, it is helpful and orderly to follow the hierarchical structure of the justice system. Finally, there is a sole highest court of the land wherein questions of law is determined prior to the finality of judgment. This role is lodged to the Supreme Court. The justices of the Supreme Court issue decisions or judgments which are not subject to alteration, modification, and by any means of changing the same which must be followed by authorities in its execution. The rationale behind this fact is that decisions of the Supreme Court are immutable.
The Linkage of the Types of Courts with the Present Criminal Justice
The present criminal justice system appears to be orderly due to the classification of courts. The aforementioned types of courts that are administered by the judiciary prevent the clogging of court dockets. Many cases were disposed and decided due to the exhaustion of remedies before the federal and state court systems. Imagine the hardships that may be experienced by a litigant in criminal cases when courts are not properly classified. It is more notable when we consider the plight of the accused in that sense when hearing of his case is not in order. Therefore, courts of justice that are properly classified in accordance with its original and appellate jurisdiction prevented clogging of court dockets that makes the speedy disposition of the same.
The courts of justice are vital to the proper disposition of cases. In analyzing the types of court, we were able to decipher the importance of its classification and impact to the present criminal justice. Finally, we also realized that the foundation of peace and harmony in the society is the proper administration of justice which includes serving justice on time to those who might need it.
“Appellate Court”. 2009. Nolo. 30 April 2009 <http://www.nolo.com/definition.cfm
Curtis, Michael. The Great Political Theories. New York: Harper Collins Publishers, 1981.
Longley, Robert. “U. S. Supreme Court: History of the Court”. 2009. About.com: US Government Info. 29 April 2009 < http://usgovinfo.about.com/blcthistory.htm>.
Miller, Mitchell. “Scholar to Scholar: Evaluating Criminology and Criminal Justice with Richard A. Wright”. Springer Link Journal Article 21 (2008): 1-2.
Radcliffe, Mark & Brinson, Diane. “The U. S. Legal System”. 2009. Findlaw Website. 29 April 2009 http://library.findlaw.com/1999/Jan/1/241487.html.
“Trial Courts”. 2009. New York State Unified Court System. 30 April 2009 <http://www.courts.state.ny.us/courts/trialcourts.shtml>.