Dual Court System in the Term Paper

Excerpt from Term Paper :

S. COURT SYSTEM FUNCTIONS (http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itdhr/0999/ijde/fine.htm)."

The highest tier of this federal system is the United States Supreme Court. This court has nine Supreme Court Justices who are appointed for the term of their life unless they choose to step down. A majority is not needed to win a Supreme Court hearing request. If four of the nine think the case brought before them is worth hearing then the case will be heard.


Below is a list of the typical types of cases that may be heard by a state court. http://www.uscourts.gov/outreach/resources/fedstate_lessonplan.htm

Cases involving the state constitution -- Cases involving the interpretation of a state constitution.

State criminal offenses -- Crimes defined and/or punished by the state constitution or applicable state statute. Most crimes are state criminal offenses. They include offenses such as murder, theft, breaking and entering, and destruction of property.

Tort and personal injury law -- Civil wrongs for which a remedy may be obtained, usually in the form of damages; a breach of duty that the law imposes on everyone in the same relation to one another as those involved in a given transaction.

Contract law -- Agreements between two or more parties creating obligations that are either enforceable or otherwise recognized as law.

Probate -- the judicial process by which a testamentary document is established to be a valid will, the proving of a will to the satisfaction of a court, the distribution of a decedent's assets according to the provisions of the will, or the process whereby a decedent's assets are distributed according to state law should the decedent have died intestate.

Family -- the body of law dealing with marriage, divorce, adoption, child custody and support, and domestic-relations issues.

Sale of goods -- the law concerning the sale of goods (moveable objects) involved in commerce (especially with regards to the Uniform Commercial Code).

Corporations and business organization -- the law concerning, among other things, the establishment, dissolution, and asset distribution of corporations, partnerships, limited partnerships, limited liability companies, etc.

Election issues -- the law concerning voter registration, voting in general, legislative reapportionment, etc.

Municipal/zoning ordinances -- the law involving municipal ordinances, including zoning ordinances that set aside certain areas for residential, commercial, industrial, or other development.

Traffic regulation -- a prescribed rule of conduct for traffic; a rule intended to promote the orderly and safe flow of traffic.

Real property -- Land and anything growing on, attached to, or erected on it, excluding anything that may be severed without injury to the land.

Each state also has a Supreme Court which is considered the highest court in that jurisdiction. State courts are also shaped like a pyramid in structure. The lower courts hear criminal and civil matters. The next tier up handles and hears appeals from the lower courts and the supreme court of each state hears the appeals from the middle tier court decisions.

As in the federal court system, trials are presided over by a single judge (often sitting with a jury); entry-level appellate cases are heard by a three-judge panel; and in state supreme courts, cases are heard by all members of the court, which usually number seven or nine justices (HOW the U.S. COURT SYSTEM FUNCTIONS (http://usinfo.state.gov/journals/itdhr/0999/ijde/fine.htm)."


At first glance it would appear that moving to a single court system would work. If one examines both the federal and state court systems they appear to have a lot in common.

They are each built on a structure that is shaped like a pyramid. Each one has a lower court system, an appeals court level that is above it and a Supreme Court system that is considered the highest court in the land for that particular jurisdiction. For the most part each court system in at the state level is extremely similar to the court system at the federal level.

When one first takes the systems and examines their components they do appear to be identical in structure and form, which could easily lead one to believe that a single court system would work just as well and save time and money by dismantling the complicated federal court system.

When one takes off the top layer however, and examines all that it would entail to have a single court system one can see that it would not be the most efficient way to run the nation's judicial system.

If the nation were to decide to dismantle the court system that is currently in place and go to a single system it might work for a very short while. After all the basic premise is the same for both court systems, however there is a major difference between the two.

The federal system is designed to hear not only federal issues but also hears the problems that come up between two or more states.

If the nation went to a single court system there would be no jurisdiction for the times when federal laws had been broken.

Individual states provide their residents with individual state laws that must comply with the federal law but can be more strict or prudent than the federal law is. If the nation went to a single court system the states would all have to fall in line with each other and would no longer have the ability to fully govern themselves as they would have to all be in compliance so that the single court system would be able to work.

Each state for instance, provides its own DUI law2s. While there are federal mandates in place the states that decide to place harsher laws in their jurisdiction have done so with the blessing of the federal government.

If the nation were to go to a single court system how could the different DUI laws be applied?

Different states have implemented may different laws including in the civil court system. States have varying limits on which courts can hear which suits while some states have done away with the deep pocket abilities of civil matters.

Going to a single court system would take an enormous amount of effort to change individual state laws.

The final problem with going to a single system is the federal court's duty to hear problems between states. If the nation goes to a single court system there will be no "supervisor" to oversee problems that occur between states.

If none of the other reasons are reason enough to maintain the dual court system that is currently in place the United States Constitution is reason enough.

The nation was founded on the constitution and the constitution protects the right to have a federal court system as well as a state court system. Regardless of whether it is a state court or a federal court the bottom line for every court in America is that they are duty bound to uphold the constitution. If the court system is dismantled and the nation goes to a single court system it is in direct violation of the very constitution it is bound to uphold.


While there are problems with the current dual court system within the United States it is the best system that has been developed thus far. In addition it complies with the United States constitution which is the cornerstone of strength for America. While the dual courts in America do have many elements in common they each serve a purpose and to dismantle that system would be to defy the constitution that the nation was built on.

A from the trial-level court directly to the supreme court, which decides whether to hear the case itself or to have the appeal resolved by the intermediate appeals court. Under either of these scenarios, the state supreme court generally reviews cases that involve significant matters of state law or policy.

Specialized state courts are trial-level courts of limited jurisdiction that only hear cases that deal with specific kinds of legal issues or disputes. Although these courts vary from state to state, many states have specialized courts for traffic matters, family law matters, probate for the administration of decedents' estates, and small claims (for cases involving less than a specific sum of money). Rulings of these specialized courts are subject to appeal and review by state courts of general jurisdiction.

Local Courts

Each of the 50 states is divided into localities or municipalities called cities, counties, towns or villages. Local governments, like their state counterparts, have their own court systems, which are presided over by local magistrates, who are public civil officers possessing judicial power delegated under the local governing laws. This may include the power to rule on laws relating to zoning authority, the collection and expenditure of local taxes, or the establishment and operation of public schools.


One of the elements of the U.S. legal system that makes it at once so complex and so interesting is the fact that both the federal government and each state…

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