Functions of Courts and the Dual Court System

Explain the Purpose and Functions of Courts and the Dual Court System.

  • A court is an agency or unit of the judicial branch of government, authorized or established by statute or constitution and consisting of one or more judicial officers, that has the authority to decide cases, controversies in law, and disputed matters of fact brought before it.
  •     The reason we have government courts is to settle disputes in a civilized manner.
  •     The United States has a dual court system, consisting of state and federal courts. The dual court system owes much to federalism.
  •     The three main functions of courts are (1) upholding the law, (2) protecting individuals, and (3) resolving disputes.

Outline the History and Development of Law and the Courts

  • .
  •     The legal basis for the American court system lies in early legal codes, the common law, modern criminal codes, administrative regulations, and constitutions (federal and local).
  •     Early legal codes include the Code of Hammurabi and the Twelve Tables.
  •     The common law is judge-made law, and it prizes the practice of stare decisis, or adhering to precedent (past decisions).
  •     Administrative regulations are rules promulgated by government agencies that have been given their authority by the executive branch or legislative branch.
  •     Constitutions are found at the federal and state levels. State constitutions can be more restrictive than the U.S. Constitutions, but they cannot relax protections spelled out in the U.S. Constitution.
  •     Modern legal codes are found at the federal and state levels. State legal codes of interest to us are most often penal codes.
  •     Courts influence other criminal justice agencies and officials through adjudication and oversight.

Functions of Courts

  • What is the legal basis for today’s courts?
  •     How did courts develop in Western societies?
  • Administrative regulations are rules promulgated by government agencies that have been given their authority by the executive branch or legislative branch.
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