Analyze a court system of a model nation. Briefly outline (approximately two pages – do not exceed 1,000 words) the function and organization of this court system. The actors, levels of courts, and appeals process should be included.
The court system selected should be from a country other than the one that you chose for the Module 3 written assignment on law enforcement.
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The Court System
The court is considered as an agency with the power of setting disputes in the society. The court involves the plaintiff and the defendant. The plaintiff provides the facts of the case and gives an explanation of how the facts are linked to some principles and body of law that are considered effective in the society. The defendant, disputes the trial and the facts to show the issue or person before the court is not within the prescribed law (Aikens, 2020). The judicial power in the court includes panel of judges or jury who examine the truth and determine whether if the law applies in the case and if there are any damages have been done to the plaintiff. Therefore, the function of the court is to settle disputes among two parties or a party that is claimed to have committed a crime. The court system of United Kingdom (England and Wales) consists of five levels; the Magistrates’ Courts, Crown Courts, High Court, the Court of Appeal and the Supreme Court.
The court system of England begins with two levels of trial courts: the crown courts for severe crimes and the magistrate courts for the minor or less serious crimes. The magistrate courts have a limited rule and handle insignificant criminal cases and carry out preliminary hearings in key criminal hearings with the magistrate deciding whether to push the case forward to the crown court (Aikens, 2020). Relative to the preliminary hearings and petty crimes, magistrate courts are designated to handle juvenile case and minor cases that include defendants below 18 years.
The Magistrates’ Court
The magistrates’ courts are organized into three tiers: district, borough and county. The tier determines the types of cases that can be heard in each court. District magistrate courts primarily hear criminal cases involving summary offences and either-way offences. Borough magistrate courts deal with more serious either-way offences as well as indictable-only offences committed by juveniles aged 17 and below. County magistrate courts have the widest jurisdiction, being able to handle all types of criminal case except those that can only be determined in the crown court (Dammer & Albanese, 2013). The magistrates’ courts are cheaper and faster than the crown court, but they have more limited powers. For example, they can only hand down sentences of up to six months for a single offence (or 12 months if multiple offences are considered together). Offenders who are sentenced to more than this can appeal their sentence to the crown court.
The Crown Court
The crown courts handle all serious criminal cases that are indictable offences. These courts have the power to implement any sentence that is allowed by law. The Crown Courts play a major role in handling criminal cases that have been transferred from the Magistrates’ Courts such as criminal cases of rape, murder and robbery (Dammer & Albanese, 2013). The most serious of these cases are tried in the High Court, which is a subset of the crown court system. The crown courts also hear appeals from magistrates’ court decisions. The juries play a major role in deciding cases in the Crown Courts.
The High Court is higher than the Crown Courts for both criminal and civil cases. It hears the most serious cases that are indictable offences, as well as appeals from decisions made in the crown courts. The High Court is made up of the Family Division, the Chancery Division, and the Queen’s Bench Division. The Queen’s Bench focuses on most criminal cases, while the Chancery and Family divisions focuses on civil matters. The High Court is based in London but also has regional centers around England and Wales. There are also specialist High Courts, such as the Admiralty Court.
The Court of Appeal
The Court of Appeal is the uppermost criminal court in England. It hears petitions from both the High Court and crown court. The court of Appeal comprises of: the family division the civil division, and the criminal division (Dammer & Albanese, 2013). The justices are selected from the House of Lords and High Court of Justice and are assigned duties of reviewing a case in groups of four or five. A unique characteristics of the Court of Appeal is that it can actually add time to the sentence if they feel that the appeal was lighthearted. The main role of the Court of Appeal is to ensure that the law is applied correctly in all criminal cases. The court can also make decisions on arguments of law that are unclear. Considerably fewer cases are heard by the Court of Appeal than by the lower courts.
The Supreme Court
The Supreme Court in United Kingdom is the ultimate judicial authority in the country, having appellate jurisdiction over all other courts. It is also the highest court of appeal in England and Wales. The Supreme Court has been headed by the Lord Chief Justice of England and Wales since its formation in October 2009. The Lord Chief Justice is the most senior judge in England and Wales, and is responsible for the administration of justice in those jurisdictions. He is also the head of the judiciary in England and Wales, and presides over the Judicial Committee of the Privy Council.
In UK, the legal system is classified into civil and criminal courts which hand both the criminal and civil case. At the base of the court system is the Magistrates’ court, the Crown Courts, High Court, and the Court of Appeal up to the uppermost court which is the Supreme Court. The courts have played a significant role in the United Kingdom especially hearing appeals on arguable law points and concentrating on case of constitutional and general public importance.
Aikens, R. H. S. R. (2020). UK–England and Wales. In Courts in Evolving Societies (pp. 59-70). Brill Nijhoff.
Dammer, H. R., & Albanese, J. S. (2013). Comparative criminal justice systems. Cengage Learning.
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