Courts: Organization

To understand the role of federal and state courts, it is essential to have a grasp of the principles of the American criminal justice system. There is no more confusing, frustrating, and complex environment than the criminal court system. This section will provide a brief overview of the judicial system in the United States.

The Principle of Federalism

The court system in the United States is based on the principle of federalism. The first Congress established a federal court system, and the individual states were permitted to continue their own judicial structures. There was general agreement among the nation's founders that individual states should retain significant autonomy from federal control. Under this concept of federalism, the United States developed as a loose confederation of semi-independent states having ...

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