The Court System in the United States

The Supreme Court, which the United States Constitution founded, began to take shape with the passage of the Judiciary Act and has a long history. The anniversary of the federal court system’s independence from the state court system is September 24; it was a ground-breaking innovation in 1789 that has stood the test of time (United States Courts, n.d.). The federal court system was essentially split from individual state courts by the Judiciary Act of 1789 (United States Courts, n.d.). Additionally, as one of the first acts of the First Congress, President George Washington signed it into law on September 24, 1789. Longley (2020) acknowledges that a dual court system is a judicial framework that utilizes two independent court systems, one at the local and one at the national levels. The United States maintains one of the world’s oldest dual court systems (Longley, 2020). It is comprised of two independently operating systems under the country’s power-sharing arrangement known as federalism: the federal courts and the state courts.

Consequently, the court systems or judicial branches function independently of the executive and legislative branches in each circumstance. Longley (2020) emphasizes that the founders of the United States Constitution aimed to construct a judicial branch with no more authority than either the executive or legislative branches. The goal was to create the checks and balances system via powers’ separation, which is now perhaps regarded as their most excellent design. To achieve this balance, they restricted the federal court’s jurisdiction and ability while ensuring the integrity of state and local courts.

The criminal trial phase begins once a person is formally charged with a crime. The criminal trial’s six primary steps are “choosing a jury, opening statements, witness testimony and cross-examination, closing arguments, jury instruction, and jury deliberation and verdict” (FindLaw’s Team, 2019, para. 2). Following the selection of a jury, the first conversation at trial take the shape of two opening statements, namely one from the prosecutor and one from the defense (FindLaw’s Team, 2019). The case-in-chief, or the stage at which each party delivers its primary evidence to the jury, is at the criminal trial’s core.

Like the opening statement, the closing argument allows the government and defense to summarize the case, reviewing the evidence in a light beneficial to their respective perspectives. The procedure by which the judge tells the jury the set of legal criteria it will need to establish that the defendant is guilty or not guilty is known as jury instruction (FindLaw’s Team, 2019). Following the judge’s instructions, the jurors deliberate on the case as a group, aiming to come to an agreement. Deliberation is the jury’s first opportunity to discuss the matter (FindLaw’s Team, 2019). When the jury decides, the foreperson tells the judge, and the verdict is generally announced in open court.

‘Get tough’ policies are what pushed the United States into the age of mass imprisonment. Hatfield (2021) asserts that policies and techniques, such as compulsory minimum and determinate sentencing legislation, as well as harsher punishments for minors, sex and drug offenders, have resulted in a significant increase in the imprisonment rate in the United States. The negative implications of mass imprisonment include racial prejudice and inequities, economic and social expenses, and prison overpopulation (Hatfield, 2021). As a result, the usage of community correctional programs as an alternative form of punishment has expanded dramatically.

Victims’ Rights refer to the legal rights provided to victims of crime. The Victims of Crimes Act, adopted in 1984, provides compensation and aid to victims of federal and state crimes (Pretrial Justice Center for Courts., n.d.). Although victims have a wide range of rights and benefits, many are ignorant of these rights or how to use them (Pretrial Justice Center for Courts., n.d.). Victims should be educated on the critical pathways to effective engagement in the criminal justice proceedings by courts, justice system partners, and victim assistance providers working together.


FindLaw’s Team. (2019). Criminal trial overview.

Hatfield, M. A. (2021). The potential of community corrections to reduce mass incarceration in the USA. In M. Pittaro. (Ed.), Global perspectives on reforming the criminal justice system (pp. 145-161). IGI Global.

Longley, R. (2020). Understanding the dual court system.

Pretrial Justice Center for Courts. (n.d.). Victims’ rights.

United States Court. (n.d.). Anniversary of the federal court system.

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1. LawBirdie. "The Court System in the United States." September 22, 2023.


LawBirdie. "The Court System in the United States." September 22, 2023.