In the USA, there are state courts and federal courts, which operate in parallel, but the personnel and the cases do not distribute equally. Most criminal and civil cases are sent to the state courts, while the federal courts have limited competencies. This paper describes the typical state court system and compares it with the federal court, their authority, and current systematic problems of their work.
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Most state courts follow the hierarchical pattern, which created a multi-level structure. There are lower courts (such as municipal courts, juvenile courts, police courts, and other specialized courts), courts of general authority (district or circuit courts), and courts of appellate jurisdiction (McKee, 2016b). It is specified that “unlike the governments of other countries, the legislative assemblies of the United States do not have unlimited power” (McKee, 2016). The state legislative systems are determined by the Constitution, being hierarchically subordinate to it. Each state adopted the concept of the supremacy of the Constitution. As a result, all state laws are subject to being reviewed in these states, by their high courts. Federal courts share many principles with most state courts. The substantial capacity test, as defined by the Model Penal Code, is among the examples of such fundamentals (McKee, 2016a). If state (or local) laws or practices of government violate the state’s constitutional law, they are subject to the state’s high court scrutiny.
Dual federalism is among the core characteristics of the U.S. court system. The federal courts’ system is organized in a broadly comparable way to the state courts’ system but has a more extended subject matter jurisdiction. One key difference between the systems is that the federal judges are nominated by the president and appointed for life (Neubauer & Meinhold, 2016, p. 153). State, local, and federal governments have their courts, contributing to the complexity of the system.
Neubauer, D. W, & Meinhold, S. S. (2016) Judicial Process: Law, Courts, and Politics in the United States. Cengage Learning.
McKee, A. J. (2016) Criminal Justice. An Overview of the System. Section 3.2: Substantive Criminal Law. Booklocker.com
McKee, A. J. (2016a) Criminal Justice. An Overview of the System. Section 3.4: Legal Defenses. Booklocker.com
McKee, A. J. (2016b) Criminal Justice. An Overview of the System. Section 5.1: State and Federal Courts. Booklocker.com. Web.
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