The structure and platform on which the legal system is based upon is very important in understanding the total landscape of how justice is carried out within the confines of the government. The purpose of this essay is to explore the inner workings of both the federal and state court systems and highlight their similarities and differences. Also, this essay will investigate the roles of court administrators in the different types of functions that a court serves. A investigation into the state of Colorado and its court structure will also be presented to help give a practical example of the court system. Finally, the essay will address quasi-judicial bodies and their impact on the courts and legal system.
The Basis for Authority
The United States Courts Government Website (n.d.), details a comprehensive overview of the basis of America's court system. The United States Constitution is understood to be the ultimate law of this land. This document allows specific powers to a federal or national government. The power not used by the federal government is, according to the Constitution, delegated to the responsibility of the states. Within this structure each of the fifty states has their own individual state constitution and governmental system that is designed by the citizens that reside in that state.
In both the federal level and state level of government, there is a separation of three powers or branches. These branches are the executive, legislative and judicial. The legislative branch, represented by congress at the federal level, creates the laws, the judicial branch is therefore responsible for interpreting and applying these laws into real world cases. The judicial branch has the responsibility of judicial review which can invalidate laws that are no longer useful or have become obsolete.
Comparing Federal and Local Courts
The federal model that is laid out in the Constitution requires that a dual court system be mandated; one by the federal arm and one by the states themselves. Federal laws are to be enforced by federal courts and state laws are to be enforced by state laws in this model. The federal laws and federal courts also have additional responsibilities in dealing with the laws of other nations and can intervene when conflicting parties are under different state jurisdiction.
The U.S. Courts Website wrote "Article III of the Constitution invests the judicial power of the United States in the federal court system. Article III, Section 1 specifically creates the U.S. Supreme Court and gives Congress the authority to create the lower federal courts." Since this time the documented was enacted, Congress has created two sub-levels of federal court below the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court. These two levels are The United States District Courts and the United States Circuit Court of Appeals (USCCA). There are 94 district courts scattered among each of the fifty states and only 12 regional intermediate appellate courts that contribute to the USCCA
Each state court system is independent of one another and is created in a different manner. Although all are different some similarities are still present. All states have their own version of a supreme court or high court. This supreme court serves as the appellate court for that state, some may have other levels of appeals as well. State courts enforce state laws and hear cases that can be civil, criminal or other specialized types courts. Like the federal system, many state governments have different circuits and regions to help manage their legal system in an effective and efficient manner.
Roles Of Court Administrators
Linhares (2012) wrote "court administrators must be strategists and project managers, if for no other reason than it is not anyone else's job to think in those terms. Without a vision of how to improve long-term service to the state's citizens, grounded in the reality of a well-thought-out project plan, state court administrators will be left in a reactionary mode, attempting to put out fires rather than guiding future development." It is indeed very important that court administrators know their varying roles and apply their expertise in a useful manner. Trials, appeals and limited jurisdiction courts all have different functions that administrators must be able to navigate through.
At the federal level the judicial branch controls its own administration and overlooks its own practices. These duties include dictating the rules of trial and appeals procedure, internal affairs reviewing judge behavior, managing the court financial matters and professionally developing the system itself (U.S. Courts). Judges along with prosecutors and lawyers make up the majority of the court administrators operational contingency while many administrators work behind the scenes to accomplish them many different tasks necessary to keep a court system smooth and flowing.
Federal prosecutors work in the U.S. Department of Justice and his headed by the Attorney General of the United States (AG). Under this position is a number of U.S. Attorneys who prosecute federal crimes. Lawyers in this system are essentially advisors to clients who need legal advice and guidance. Each lawyer is approved by a jurisdiction and approved to work in that region. Certain states have certain restrictions and rules that allow for what types of law are practiced in that region. A law degree from an accredited school must also be earned in order to become an associated member of the court.
Colorado's State Courts
The State of Colorado Court System falls under the governing body of the Judicial Branch of The State of Colorado. According to its website "The Colorado Judicial Branch, with more than 300 judges and 3,500 support staff members, is centrally administered by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court. To assist the Chief Justice, the Supreme Court appoints the State Court Administrator (SCA). Each of the State's 22 Judicial Districts also has a district administrator and a Chief Probation Officer, and each of the 64 counties has a Clerk of Court."
This department is divided into two distinct divisions that help the government manage their legal system. The Appellate Court, which contains the Colorado Supreme Court and the Colorado Court of Appeals is one division, and the Trial Courts containing the district courts, county courts and water courts is the other.
The Colorado Supreme Court is responsible for hearing last resort appeals from the Colorado Court of Appeals which in turn is responsible for first hearing and reviewing previous judicial decisions. The District Courts within the Trial Courts system hears the civil cases, criminal cases, juvenile cases and mental health cases. County Courts within Colorado handle civil cases under $15,000, traffic violations and small claims. The Water Courts within Colorado are unique and are used to determine water rights and the use and administration of the scarce resource of water within the state boundaries.
According to the Cornell Legal Information Institute, a quasi-judicial body is one that is "a proceeding conducted by an administrative or executive official that is similar to a court proceeding. It is a judicial act performed by an official who is not a judge or not acting in his or her capacity." In other words, these types of bodes represent some form of judicial power but on a lower level than the official court system.
Adjudication is one method of avoiding a traditional court hearing or case and can help in many ways. This technique of quasi-judging can be done by some official or responsible person with some sort of unbiased opinion with no conflict of interest. Adjudication can actually be performed by court administrators in a non-official capacity and can be applied in a quasi-judicial approach. This type of approach is aimed at reducing the stresses of the court system and can assist in protecting citizen's rights to a fair and speedy hearing which is owed to all those who participate in this system and model…