Main Types Of Court System In United States are being discussed here.The United States has two major court systems, consisting of the broad federal system and the courts of the fifty individual states.
THE FEDERAL SYSTEM.
The Constitution created the Supreme Court and authorized such inferior courts as Congress may from time to time establish. Congress, pursuant to this authority, has established the United States Court . The following chart illustrates the court system.
- The Constitutional Court, whose main function is to assess the constitutionality or legality of legal norms, as well as the constitutionality of omissions to legislate;
- The Court of Auditors, which is the supreme body to supervise the legality of public expenditure and the assessment of the accounts that the law has to submit to it;
- Judicial Courts, which are the ordinary courts in civil and criminal matters and which exercise jurisdiction in all matters that are not assigned to other judicial orders. They include the Supreme Court of Justice, the courts of second instance (which are, as a rule, the Courts of Appeal) and the courts of first instance (which are, as a rule, the county courts).
- The Administrative and Fiscal Courts, whose function is to settle disputes arising from administrative and fiscal relations. They include the Supreme Administrative Court, the central administrative courts, the administrative administrative courts and the tax courts.
- The Peace Courts, which are courts with special characteristics and with competence to assess civil cases in which the value of the case does not exceed 5,000 euros.
The District Courts are courts of original jurisdiction or “trial courts” (the courts in which proceedings are commenced and tried). The District Courts have jurisdiction of, among other things, cases that arise under the U S. Constitution or federal laws and treaties that involve Ekrsonal rights, involving federal crimes, and civil cases in which the matter in very exceeds the sum or value of and is based on diversity of citizenship (e.g., citizens of different states).
The Court of Appeal is a review court and a court to which an appeal may taken from the District Courts, the Claims Court, the U .S. Court of International Trade, the Patent and Trademark Office, the U S. International Trade Commission, the Merit System Protection Board, and agency boards of contract appeals. A Court of Appeal will review the case and will either affirm, reverse, or modify the judgment of the trial court. From the Court of Appeal, the case may then be appealed to the US Supreme Court, which has the final word on the legal problems involved. The Supreme Court consists of a Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. An appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court is largely a matter of privilege rather than of right, since this Court may either allow or deny a petition for hearing. The Court will give a full hearing to a case only if four of the nine justices vote to hear it (called the “rule of four”). Two procedures are used for bringing a case before the Court. namely, by appeal and by writ ot certiora ri.
Few cases are brought to the Court by appeal. An individual has the right to appeal in the following cases: (1) when a U.S. Court of Appeals holds a state statute to be in violation of the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States; (2) when the highest court of a state declares a federal statute or treaty invalid or when the highest state court upholds the validity of a state statute that has been challenged as violating the Constitution, treaties, or laws of the United States; (3) when a federal court declares that an act of Congress is unconstitutional and the federal government or one of its employees is a party; and (4) when an appeal is for an injunction in a civil action that Congress requires a district court of three judges to determine.
A writ of certification is a written order by the Supreme Court issued to a lower court requiring the lower court to produce a certified record of a particular case that was tried in the lower court. The Court uses the writ as a discretionary device to choose the cases it will hear. Most of the cases heard by the Court are by the writ procedure. Writs are granted when there is an important federal question involved or when there is a conflict in the decisions of U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals. Generally, only petitions for writs of certification that raise important constitutional questions are granted.
Although the Supreme Court work is primarily appellate, it does have original jurisdiction in cases in which the states may be a party, and in cases affecting ambassadors, public ministers, and consuls. The power of the Supreme Court to review the decisions of the state courts, however, is limited to those that involve a federal question. However, the Supreme Court has the power to invalidate any federal or state statute by declaring it to be contrary to the U.S. Constitution. It is obvious that the Supreme Court wields enormous influence and has great power. The legal principles enunciated by the Court are followed by other federal courts in controversies that come before those courts. If the decision involves a constitutional problem, the Court’s decision will be followed by all of the various courts of the United States, both federal and state.
Most states follow the basic federal system and have trial courts of original jurisdiction, intermediate appellate courts, and the highest court of the state as the one of final appeal.
1. COURTS OF ORIGINAL LIMITED JURISDICTION.
Trial courts of limited jurisdiction might be city or municipal courts and justices’ or commissioners’ courts whose jurisdiction is limited to the city and which may hear criminal cases involving only misdemeanors and civil cases for money damages up to a limited amount. Some states have a small claims court system in which the courts have a limited money jurisdiction (e.g., $1,500); and where the litigants handle their own cases, since the parties may not be represented by attorneys. This has been a very useful court to relieve the municipal courts, which are so crowded that it often takes up to one year to have a case tried. Although small claims courts dispense justice on an assembly-line basis, the system is quite successful.
Persons going to small claims court must prove liability on the part of the defendant (e.g., that the defendant was negligent). The plaintiff must also prove the amount of damages (e.g., loss of wages due to injury caused by the defendant). Proof must be made by a preponderance of the evidence (i.e., 51%). Once the plaintiff has proven his or her case, the defendant must put on evidence to disprove the plaintiffs evidence (e.g., that the plaintiff lost wages due to illness and not from an injury). If the defendant has a claim against the plaintiff, he or she must file a cross-complaint after being served the plaintiffs complaint. . A party to the case can prove his or her case by witnesses (if a witness cannot go to court, the party should bring a statement of the witness under penalty of perjury with his or her signature notarized).
Obviously, a witness in court carries greater weight than does a written statement. Generally, it is better practice to subpoena the witness. A person is permitted to pay a witness fee as set by statute. However, if someone offers to pay the witness a fee based on the outcome of a case, the credibility of the witness may be destroyed. A person may have to pay an expert a fee based on the expert’s time in court, not on the outcome of the case. If the expert cannot or will not go to court, the expert’s statement can be presented in written form. In property damage cases, if the expert cannot appear, it is customary to bring three estimates of the money damages to court.
A case may hinge on a substantive legal point. For example, is a bus company liable when a bus driver strikes a passenger? Is the parent of a young child liable when the child hits another child with a stick? Is a tenant liable for rent when the rented premises become uninhabitable because of failure of the landlord to make necessary repairs? What can a creditor do when he or she receives a check from a debtor stating “Paid in Full” on the back of the check and the check is for a smaller amount than the creditor believes is due? If you read through the table of contents and the index of this law book, you will probably find material that will help you prepare your case.
2. COURTS OF ORIGINAL UNLIMITED JURISDICTION.
Trial courts that have unlimited jurisdiction might hear cases involving unlimited amounts of money, probate, equity, divorce, and felony cases rather than merely misdemeanors. They are called by various names: Circuit Courts (Illinois, Indiana, Michigan), Superior Courts (California, Massachu- setts), Supreme Courts (New York), District Courts (Iowa, Minnesota, Okla- homa, Wyoming), Courts of Common Pleas (Ohio, Pennsylvania).
APPELLATE COURTS A. INTERMEDIATE COURTS OF APPEAL
These courts have been created in some states to relieve the highest state court of some of the cases that it reviews. They are usually called District Courts of Appeal or Courts of Appeal and are found in Arizona, California, Illinois, Louisiana, Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, and Pennsylvania. These are the courts to which a litigant would file his or her initial appeal from the trial court. In general, appellate courts do not hear witnesses. They examine the record of a case on appeal to determine whether the trial court committed a prejudicial error, and if so, to reverse the judgment.
Every state has a court that it designates as its highest court of appeals. California, Illinois, and most states call it the Supreme Court. Kentucky, Maryland, and New York call it the Court of Appeals. Massachusetts and Maine call it the Supreme Judicial Court. The losing litigant in the inter- mediate court of appeal can file an appeal in this court. An appeal from this court to the U.S. Supreme Court is possible only if a constitutional law question is involved, which means that a state statute or decision is asserted to be in violation of the U.S. Constitution.