November 01, 2010
The modern dual system of courts incorporates both federal and state or local courts. This system is the product of many years of gradual development. Outside this formally established structure, however, personal relationships between key court participants can guide court proceedings and procedures. This paper will examine the history of the criminal courts, the dual system of the United States and modify the difference between the historical development and the dual court system of the United States.
The origins of the contemporary criminal courts can be traced back through their colonial predecessors the Anglo-Saxon and English court systems. Contributions from outside this lineage were minor; although Louisiana’s legal system reflects a strong French influence, owing to the substantial early French settlement there. The earliest records of legal procedures for criminal matters in Anglo-Saxon England are found in proclamations (know as dooms) issued by King Aethelbert of Kent in 601-604C.E. that prohibited theft and provided for a variety of punishments for “violation of the king’s interests). Anglo-Saxon courts, in an attempt to move away from blood feuds (the long-running cycle of violent retaliation, typically between families or clans), used a variety of oaths and ordeals to determine an individual’s truth or guilt. The compurgatory oath required that the accused swear an oath of innocence: If the defendant’s testimony was supported by statements of a sufficient number of others (known as oath helpers, who were often relatives of the accused), the defendant would be acquitted and released. However, if the testimony was not convincing, the accused would face either trial by ordeal or trial by battle. The absence of burns or scars from an ordeal or simple survival in battle was indication of innocence.
English common law and the English court system were the...