Court System in the United States, State, Federal or both

Court System in the United States, State, Federal or both
The criminal justice system of a country depends of the court system which will determine the credibility of the justice system in that country. In countries where the justice system is weak will have a negative effect in the court system, in other words the weakness of the justice system of any country will influence the court system. That is why a philosopher said the law is for the poor not for the rich because some people are able to buy the justice system. It is important in order to have a country where there is a balance of power so the criminal justice system can be independent. A society where the justice system is manipulated or controlling by certain group will never be considered as a democratic society. The progress of any country, in many cases depend of the justice system thy have in place. That is why totalitarian regime or countries most of the time failed after the death of their leader because there was not a justice system in place that protect everyone the society. Their system was based on the will of one person or a group of individuals. When the regime failed, the country failed, and that is true for many countries like Venezuela, Libya, Irak, etc All of this is to present a court system which is not perfect but can serve as a guideline for many other countries which the court system in the United States. To understand the United States court system, we are going to analyze the courts at different level.
First, let’s analyze the court system of the United States at the federal level. The United States Federal Court is composed of the US Supreme Court, Appellate Courts, Trials Courts. The US Supreme Court is the highest Court of the land. It is formed by the chief justice and 8 associate justices who are appointed by the President of the United States and confirmed by the US Senate. The Supreme Court plays a crucial role in the criminal justice system. It is considered as the court the last resort, protects civil rights and liberties by putting down laws that violate the constitution. Moreover, The Supreme Court ensures the balance of power indicated by the constitution which prescribe each branch of the government the limit of its power. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over certain case. Furthermore, it also has appellate jurisdiction which It can hear a case on appeal. The Supreme Court decisions have a lot of impact in the society and the justice system.
In the United States federal courts, we also find the appellate courts. It is important to say that the appellate courts are higher courts that hear appeals against lower courts decisions. The US courts of appeal is formed with 12 regional court of appeals and the national jurisdiction court of appeals for the Federal circuit. In the appellate courts we usually found two or more judges who preside on the cases. There are two types of appeals: one which is consider a matter of right which refers to someone or a party to appeal a decision made by a lower court without any court approval. The other, a discretionary appeal which is the appellate court discretion to see whether it accepts a party appeal from a lower court decision. Moreover, the court of appeals does not hear additional evidence. Court of appeals decisions are made base on the evidence already presented and if additional documents are needed, the appellate courts may request them before affirming or reversing a lower court decision.
A trial court is a court in which an initial trial is held. Trial court is also known as court of first instance. In the Federal system, the US district courts are the principal trial court. They have jurisdiction to hear all categories of federal cases. In the United States, there are 94 federal judicial districts and each of them has a bankruptcy court working as a unit of the district court.
Second, let’s talk about the state court system in the United States. This type of court system is established by the constitution and the laws of each state. The United States constitution gives certain powers to the federal government. However, powers not designated to the federal government is the responsibility of the state government. In contrast to the federal courts, state judges are selected in many ways: election, appointment for a given number of years, etc. It is important to say there is no uniform structure to the State Court System because each state has its own structure or system, but the State Court system is some ways similar to the Federal Court in the sense they have different type of level of courts which include trial courts, Intermediate Appellate Courts, and the state supreme court or court of the last resort. One of the differences between both type of courts is that states and local courts can hear cases involving the laws and the citizen of their states, cases regarding laws passed by state legislature and local authorities for example family law cases, suits for personal injury, traffic violations etc while Federal courts decide lawsuit between citizen of different states, case against the United States, and cases involving specific federal laws.
As I mention in the lines above, State court systems vary by state which mean they have their own structure for example Florida establishes the state court system of FL, and other states create the state court system of their states. However, all state court systems have the same tiers or levels: lower courts, State Appellate courts, and State Supreme Courts.
The lower courts sometimes known as courts of general jurisdiction which means that the court has the legal authority to hear a type of case. The state lower court functions on a county level. State lower courts are also known as district courts, circuit courts, county courts, trial courts. It is the busiest court in the United States court system because they hear both civil and criminal cases.
The State Appellate Courts are immediate courts that review questions of legal procedure or matters arising from the lower court decisions for example if a defendant is not satisfied to a lower court decision or lose in a lower court, this individual can appeal the case to the state appellate courts. These courts are divided by appellate division, with one appeal court is selected to hear the appeal from different lower state courts. There are differences between the lower courts and the state appellate courts. One of them is the lower court needs juries to make a decision in a case while appellate court use a panel of Judges to review only a specific issue. The appellate judges won’t rehear the entire case and can decide to accept the case or not. If the case is accepted the panel vote on the issue, and the majority rules.
The State Supreme court is the state of the last resort or the highest court of the state. When a party or both parties do not agree to an appellate court decision, they can go to the state supreme court for a final decision.
This analysis as shorty as it is, allows us to conclude courts system in the United States play a crucial role in the system democratic that we live. The courts system prescribe limit to each branch of the government which create a balance of power. The courts system also protects the right of each citizen living in the country like freedom of speech, assembly, human right etc. As I said at the beginning of this analysis, it is important for each country to have a court system that protect each citizen. Even if the court system of the United States is not a perfect system, it can serve a guide for any countries that want to embrace a democratic system and justice for all. There are always rooms for improvement in the system, but it will be worst if we did not have a criminal justice system in place that put emphasis on the rule of law

↑ Copyright 1997,, Inc. Reprinted from The Source: A Guidebook of American Genealogy. Used by permission, all rights reserved. For further family history resources visit

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Copyright:1997,, Inc. Reprinted from The Source: A guidebook of American Genealogy. Used by permission, all rights reserved. For further family history resources, visit

The Relationship between State and Federal Court Systems in the United States

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