How Is The Court System Structured?

How Is The Court System Structured?

The United States of America is a presidential form of government where three levels of government operate independently of each other. The judiciary is a network of courts with overlapping jurisdiction in the USA. Essentially, the courts are divided into federal and state levels which are further divided based on jurisdiction both territorial, pecuniary, and subject matter.

Federal courts decide only cases that deal in the issue of federal laws. The jurisdiction of federal and state is defined by the constitution by the Separation of Power. The hierarchy of courts in the USA is described below.

special jurisdiction

Courts with special jurisdiction

The courts take only pre-defined and certain types of cases on trial. The United States of America has bankruptcy courts, tax courts, probation courts on the state level, courts that handle issues related to wills, family courts that hear custodial and divorce issues and other ancillary proceedings among other things.

Many of these courts operate like fast-track courts that have specifically designed rules of evidence and procedure for speedy disposal of cases. Judges, administration, and lawyers, all operate in the specific area of law.

Trial courts

Trail courts work on the initial level. It is the point of inception of a case. These are divided into two, i.e., civil and criminal. The procedure and approach of cases in these are entirely different. In criminal cases, the act committed by a criminal is considered a crime against society. The case is registered by the state against the accused.

In civil cases, the trial is initiated by the person who is being wronged against the person who has done wrong. In both types of cases, both prosecution and defence or plaintiff and defendant, present their cases to the jury in presence of a trial. They present their verdict after reaching a consensus.

Court of Appeals

If a party feels that there has been a mistake of law or fact at the time of trial, they can appeal on the ground of mistake to the appellate court. The court of appeals does not entertain every case decided by the trial court. They do not start the trial altogether. They only hear the matter where a mistake has been made. Additionally, a court of appeal can hear cases from trial courts of various jurisdictions.

Supreme Court

This is the highest court in the hierarchy of courts. If any appellate court on the state level has made an error on the issue of application of law or some procedure was not followed properly, they can appeal to the Supreme Court.

Sometimes, an appellate court refers the case directly to the highest court because the case contains an issue that directly pertains to a question of constitutionality. The Supreme Court can itself take cognisance of the matter.  After SC makes the decision, that concludes the case.

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