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Court System and the Judicial Process - Essay Example

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The U.S. Judicial system consists of 51 separate court systems: there are fifty state courts and the U.S. courts system or the federal court. Whereas there are considerable discrepancies between the 50 state courts (Abraham, 1986), all of them are divided into two groups: trial courts and appellate courts…
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Court System and the Judicial Process
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Court System and the Judicial Process The U.S. Judicial system consists of 51 separate court systems: there are fifty courts and the U.S. courts system or the federal court. Whereas there are considerable discrepancies between the 50 state courts (Abraham, 1986), all of them are divided into two groups: trial courts and appellate courts. Trial courts focus completely on finding appropriate proofs or refutations for the facts through the examination of witnesses' testimonies and physical evidence. Jury is available in trial courts and usually examine the cases, associated with equity and trusts (Abraham, 1986), but as a rule, a single (Baum, 1986) judge heads the trial and renders decisions, puts sentences and fines.
Appellate courts (ibid) accept the complaints on inappropriate decisions of lower courts and re-try them, i.e. hear and re-consider arguments and apply the law to the evidence which has already been confirmed. In these courts, decision-making is delegated to groups of judges (Ball and Cliffs, 1987). "Judicial federalism is the term used to describe the relationships between these independent court systems at the state and national levels, and the various ways individual cases can move between different court systems []The U.S. Constitution also allows for states to maintain their own individual court systems that derive their authority from state constitutions and state laws" (ibid, p. 102). Nevertheless, according to the Constitution Article III, federal questions are tried by the U.S. Supreme Court (Abraham, 1986), a highest U.S. court.
The litigation system, adopted in our country, is also known as 'adversarial' system, since it is based upon the plaintiff's presentation of their dispute or problem to an impartial third person, who deals with finding and examining the facts. Another prominent characteristic of the U.S. court system is the obligation to pay litigation fees (approximately $150 for a civil case). As a rule, cases are resolved by the U.S. District Courts as for the first and the last trial. The two sides argue and show their evidence before a judge or a jury, whereas in appellate courts "a panel of judges (usually three) decides cases based on briefs filed by attorneys representing both sides in a dispute. Appellate judges generally decide narrow questions of constitutional law or procedure" (Baum, 1986, p.72). As the court system is hierarchical, appellate court judges are entitled either to affirm or to overturn the decisions made by a district court. The cases are also categorized into several groups: civil, criminal and financial cases, which have certain peculiarities - for instance, the civil case implies the discovery, which should be made by a litigant, whereas in criminal justice the process of case examination is assigned to an investigator, a police official (Ball and Cliffs, 1987). The U.S. court process is based upon two core principles: first of all, notice should be given to a person, against whom the lawsuit is prepared; and secondly, both plaintiff and defendant should have an opportunity to substantiate their interests and defend themselves. The other essential characteristics of the U.S. court process are clarity, independence of judges, attention to each aspect of evidence and the right for application to higher judicial institutions for an appropriate review.
Courtroom process also involves the participation of a lawyer, or a person who represents the litigant's (or defendant's) interests, criminal cases necessitate the presence of a public prosecutor, who explains the nature of the case to judges and requires certain penalty, and witnesses, or individuals, who give additional evidence in terms of the certain case (Ball and Cliffs, 1987; Abraham, 1986). The main source of law in the U.S. judiciary system is a precedent, or a similar case, resolved in a certain way (ibid). Reference to precedents is thus a vital precondition of a successful trial.
Works cited
Abraham, H. The Judicial Process: An Introductory Analysis of the Courts of the United States, England, and France, 5th ed.. New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1986.
Ball, H. and Cliffs, E. Courts and Politics: the Federal Judicial System, 2d ed., NJ: Prentice-Hall, 1987.
Baum, L. American Courts: Process and Policy. Boston, MA; Houghton Mifflin Company, 1986. Read More
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