Role and Function of Law
Mark R. Mitchell
May 25, 2015
Role and Function of Law
To better understand the role and function of law one must understand both the federal court and state court structures. The federal court structure is a three-part configuration; the top court is the United States Supreme Court, which is the top court in the federal judicial system. Additionally, many refer to the Supreme Courts as "the highest court in the land", because it has the definitive authority to consider appeals in virtually all cases ruled upon in the federal court system. The Supreme Court can also sit in judgment of certain appeals from each state’s Supreme Courts. These involve a federal inquiry, for instance, a dispute encompassing a federal statute or on involving the Constitution of the United States. Additionally, the Supreme Court maintains a restricted “original jurisdiction” over certain cases. Even so, less than 100 cases are essentially listened to and ruled on by the Supreme Court during a given year ("Appellate Court", 2015). The second part of the three-part structure is the Federal Courts of Appeal. The Federal Courts of Appeal are separated into twelve distinctive regions including the District of Columbia circuit, more commonly identified as circuit courts ("Structure of the Federal Courts", n.d.). These circuit courts are only appellate courts and hold no “original jurisdiction” (Melvin, 2011). The third part of this structure is the Federal District Courts. “The Federal District Courts are the trial courts of the federal court system” (" Structure of the Federal Courts," n.d.). Contained by boundaries that are set by the Constitution through Congress; additionally the circuit courts retain jurisdiction to try almost every category of federal cases, as well as criminal and civil issues. Concerning my state of Michigan and its state court structure that is very similar to that of the federal court's structure. Michigan Court structure has the appearance of a pyramid with the Michigan State Supreme Court at the top, and as the Federal Supreme Court it is an appellate court. However, it hears cases that are appealed to it from the Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals was formed via the "1963 State Constitution as an intermediate appellate court between the Supreme Court and Circuit Court" ("Michigan Judicial System", n.d.). Jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is established by state law, but its execution and course of actions are governed by Supreme Court Rule ("Michigan Judicial System", n.d.). The Court of Appeals is one difference between the federal and the State of Michigan Court structure. The next lower level of courts is the circuit courts also referred to as the trial courts to the same degree as in the federal system and the Court of Claims for claims against the state of Michigan. However, unlike the federal structure there are three additional courts beneath this level: probate courts, district courts, and municipal courts. Any appeals fall to the district courts; with the possible exception of certain probate court rulings that are directly heard by the Court of Appeals ("Michigan Judicial System", n.d.). To further understand the difference between federal and state structures one needs to understand the states courts are courts of “general jurisdiction”; whereas federal courts are considered courts of “limited jurisdiction”. State courts judge all arguments not explicitly designated for the federal courts. Likewise, as the federal courts infer federal laws, state courts also clarify state laws instituted by the state. The concept of judicial review allows a court's authorization to appraise an executive or legislative act and to overturn that act if it is conflicting with constitutional doctrines; which has ultimate judicial authority. While, judicial review is more commonly linked with the United States Supreme Court. It is, in fact, an...
References: Appellate Court. (2015). Retrieved from http://legal dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/appellate+court
Judicial Review. (2015). Retrieved from http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/Judicial+Review
Melvin P. Sean, (2011). The Legal Environment of Business: A Managerial Approach: Theory to Practice. (1st ed.). McGraw-Hill.
Michigan Judicial System. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://courts.mi.gov/education/learning-center/Documents/One-Court-of-Justice.pdf
Structure of the Federal Courts. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.catea.gatech.edu/grade/legal/structure.html
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