History of United States Courts


The foremost historical developments of the U.S courts started throughout the colonial days. Thereafter, the American courts have industrialized and advanced to handle and fulfill the social requirements of the Americans. Currently, America has two judicial systems applicable in its courts. First, they have the state and local courts system, which operates within the authority of the state government. Secondly, the federal court’s arrangements were formed by the legislature under the U.S constitution. As evident in the formation of social, cultural, and legal habits in America, the courts trace their derivation from Great Britain. In the American colonies, the court systems were different yet their focus was to resolve public and criminal disputes. For example, the court of Massachusetts concentrated on forming laws, conducting trials, and imposing sentences (Jenkins, 2011).

History of developments of the U.S. Courts

The United States (U.S) courts have their historical roots in the English laws and the concrete requirements of the colonists operating as a society in the new World. Applying their formal techniques of pleading cases, arguments, and organizing structures, the English courts worked as a role model to many courts during the colonial era. The colonies worked with directions from the English crown and they followed the English laws whilst ruling in the 17th and 18th centuries. Therefore, during that period, both the English laws together with the English court systems focused on solving disputes because they were familiar to many people (Jenkins, 2011).

However, the English laws and courts were not the lone solutions applicable in solving disputes in colonies because other methods like religious proscriptions and punishments were applicable. However, the communal and illicit methods were more effective during severe violence because they provided positive decisions to an individual’s problems; thus, instilling fairness and confidence amongst citizens. With time, the growth of the colonies increased; therefore, the courts gained interest in influencing the monetary and societal developments in the country together with its cities and towns. During such a period, the issues that required legal ruling included governing local officials’ schedules, fledging electoral procedure, property interest protection, sustenance during the execution of religious processes, contract implementation, and penalty for offenders (Schmallegger, 2010).

After the implementation of the U.S constitution, the formation of the tripartite administration, and the central judiciary, the U.S courts started to modify their roles. During the 1800s, the US courts turned out to be more constrained and had their chores well defined. For example in the constitutional division of supremacies, the state sectors acted independently to accommodate their constitutional authority. They defined the affiliation amongst the courts, the laws, and the local affairs governance. The “cities, towns and counties”, had a responsibility of funding the courts; thus, raising money in equipping the court’s personnel with education and paying their salaries (Schmalleger, 2010). The U.S cities and towns formed more trial courts because of the increasing population and the overlapping nature of the courts (Schmalleger, 2010).

Throughout the 20th century, the U.S courts started paying attention to their activities and processes because of the cases they had begun receiving and the required consistency in their verdicts. With time, the U.S courts started to center in two areas, which included the application of professionalism in judging by urging that every judge should possess a law degree or undergo official law training. They also majored in enhancing the public assurance within their courts, which improved all rulings; thus, applying the rule of law rather than basing on political or personal biases (Jenkins, 2011). During the same century, the U.S courts went through the reorganization of their court methods. These changes led to the formation of the unified and non-unified court models, which consisted of the court of last resort, intermediate appellate courts, general jurisdiction courts, limited jurisdiction courts, supreme courts, the court of appeal among others.

First, the court of last resort also referred to as the Supreme Court is the uppermost court of appellate that accomplishes that decides appeals on law issues. This court gives specific cases the last hearing unless that case has federal law matters. In the US, this court contains a board of 6 to 9 Justices passed by the U.S constitution. Mostly, this court performs its duties by rectifying the decisions made by the lower appellate courts. Therefore, this implies that the decisions made by the court of last resort are the final on issues affecting the state. Secondly, the Intermediate Appellate Courts are courts in the U.S that receive the trial courts’ preliminary appeals(Jenkins, 2011).

Thirdly, the trial courts referred to as courts of creative influence carries out the initial registration, hearing, and resolving of cases. These courts perform the trials in filed cases, which lacks conclusion in appeal. Therefore, these courts are accountable for the justice allotting processes making it useful to different cases. Fourthly, the general jurisdiction courts are responsible for handling stern and expensive criminal cases involving conflicts that are more intricate and involve more money. Fifthly, the limited jurisdiction courts handle criminal cases that are cheap and not stern (Jenkins, 2011).

The dual court system in the U.S

The dual court system applied in the U.S involves the state and federal courts. The committed crimes within the state undergo prosecution in the same state courts while the prosecutions of those in federals are within the federal courts. In the dual court system, the definition of state crimes happens through the state statutes while those in the federal courts are in the congress statutes. Some instances affect both the state and federal statutes; therefore, in such a situation; the prosecution is either by the state, federal, or both (Schmalleger, 2010).

Federal and state courts have dissimilar schemes applicable in their jurisdictions. For example, there is no relocation of cases from federal to state courts, except for the Supreme Court or when the matter is affecting the federal statutory and the legitimate rights. In the dual system, the federal court systems can have appeals from the U.S supreme court, the U.S Court of Appeals, U.S district courts, and the U.S magistrates. In the state court system, the state uppermost appeal court, intermediate appellate courts, General trial courts, and magistrate courts have permission to appeal for any case.

Correlation between the developments of the U.S courts and the “Dual court system”

Correlation occurs amid the development of the “U.S courts and the Dual court system”. The formation of both courts is by the U.S government through the passed statutes or constitutional necessity to bring laws to govern the public. Secondly, both are ways of solving the misunderstanding that falls between the two parties. Thirdly, in both courts, the community has the privilege to observe the proceedings (Jenkins, 2011).


The supposition that the U.S legal system differs in both federal and state makes it complex and interesting. Every judicial process appropriate within the state and federal courts have dissimilar purposes and procedures. In addition, the U.S legal system undergoes complications because of the overlapping jurisdiction that it encounters. Finally, all the U.S systems applied in courts are comparable in most essential venerations.


Jenkins, J. (2011). The American: A procedural Approach. Baltimore, MA: Jones Barlett Publishers.

Schmalleger, F. (2010). Criminal Justice Today: An Introduction Text for the 21st Century. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall PTR.

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