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Dual Court System in the United States


The United States has a dual court system with two types of courts: the federal courts and the state courts. The idea of the dual court system is misleading because there are 50 court systems in each state, plus the federal system, and the courts of Washington, D.C. (Carmen, 2013). The states have found a kind of compromise and supported the idea of two main camps that can present different points of view on the courts (Gaines & Miller, 2007). The system works the following way: lower courts are the primary basis for people to rely on, and then, trial courts of general jurisdiction may take place, after, people may address appellate courts, and the state Supreme Court is the final stage of the state court system. Then, the federal level is observed with the US District Courts, US Courts of Appeals, and, finally, the US Supreme Court that makes the last solutions (Carmen, 2013).

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Jurisdiction and Its Role in the System

Neaubauer and Fradella (2013) admit that federal and state courts may have concurrent jurisdiction in some cases. It means that the role of the jurisdiction in the system is to make it more complicated. Jurisdiction is a kind of power that the court has while deciding on a dispute (Neaubauer & Fradella, 2013). As a rule, jurisdiction is limited in every court (Gaines & Miller, 2007), and the limitation depends on the type of the subcomponent defined: geographic (when courts have power over the residents of a particular area), subject matter (when the courts are restricted to hear some cases), personality (consideration of an individuality), and hierarchy (differences of social status, positions, etc.) (Neaubauer & Fradella, 2013). The state courts have general jurisdiction under which all cases should be heard and analyzed. The federal courts have limited jurisdiction under which only some cases may be viewed after they have been discussed in the state courts.

Members of the Courtroom and Their Interactions within the Criminal Justice System

There are several members of the courtroom with their roles and the possibilities to interact. The constant figures are the judge, who rules on the issues, a court reporter, who makes an accurate record of everything that happens or is said to the court, a bailiff, who takes care of the way of how jurisdiction is committed, and a clerk, who has to check if everything is in its place in the courtroom (Currier & Eimermann, 2009). Not less important still usually changeable members are a prosecutor and a plaintiff, who accuse a person of making a crime or breaking the rules, a defendant, who protects the rights of an accused person, witnesses, who give evidence to the case, jurors, a group of people, who gather and analyze all pieces of evidence, and the public (Gaines & Miller, 2007).

Opinion about the Courtroom Actors on a Federal and State Level

I think that the differences between the federal and state levels of the court system prove the fact that America is a powerful combination of fifty states with their ambitions, ideas, rules, and the abilities to be united and follow one single federal system. It is not an easy task to accuse, defend, and even observe the cases when a person’s future is considered. Attorneys have to be sure of what they are doing because their words and evidence may change human lives forever (Hemmens, Brody, & Spohn, 2012). Defendants should realize their words and support are addressed to the right people on federal and state levels (Cole, Smith, & DeJong, 2014). Though all players in a courtroom have their duties, all of them are bound with one goal – to make justice available to all people.


Carmen, R. (2013). Criminal procedure: Law and practice. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Cole, G., Smith, C., & DeJong, C. (2014). The American system of criminal justice. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Currier, K.A. & Eimermann, T.E. (2009). Introduction to paralegal studies: A critical thinking approach. New York, NY: Aspen Publishers Online.

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Gaines, L. & Miller, R. (2007). Criminal justice in action: The core. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

Hemmens, C., Brody, D.C., & Spohn, C. (2012). Criminal courts: A contemporary perspective. Thousand Oaks, CA: SAGE Publications.

Neaubauer, D. & Fradella, H. (2013). America’s courts and the criminal justice system. Belmont, CA: Cengage Learning.

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