78%(9)7 out of 9 people found this document helpful
This preview shows page 20 - 22 out of 120 pages.
with the federal courts because even though they are fewer in number than state courts, they are arguably the most powerful.This is especially true of the federal appellate courts, particularlythe U.S. Supreme Court which frequently issues decisions that have significant implications for criminal justice officials all across America.Brief History of Federal CourtsA full appreciation of the modern court structure, functioning, and intricacies cannot be obtained without first considering how courts in America came to pass, especially the three key turning points in the history of federal courts. These include the U.S. Constitution itself, the Judiciary Actof 1789, and the Judiciary Act of 1891.
U.S. Constitution and the CourtsThe U.S. Constitution spells out the structure and function of the judiciary in Article III, but the Constitution did not create America's courts. Courts were in place and operating before the Constitution was ratified—and well before colonists arrived here. It was their proper place in society, rather than a simple need for them, that led to considerable debate during the pre–constitutional era.Pre–Constitutional EraThe Articles of Confederation and Perpetual Union, known more commonly as the Articles of Confederation, was the first governing document in the United States. The final draft was authored in the summer of 1777, adopted by the Second Continental Congress in November of that year, and later ratified on March 1, 1781, when the last of the 13 states signed the document. The document had a very short history, as it became apparent rather quickly that it was lacking in several respects. For example, the federal government was not given taxing authority, almost all government power under the Articles of Confederation was vested in a single chamber legislature called Congress, there was no separation of legislative and executivepowers (as is the case today), and, more importantly, there was no national judiciary. In fact, there was almost no reference at all to courts or a judiciary.At the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia in 1787, delegates gathered in an effort to correct the Articles' deficiencies and adopt a more effective document, the U.S. Constitution. Yetthere was considerable disagreement over the issue of a judiciary and what form it would take. James Madison drafted his plan for a new national government, known widely as the Virginia Plan. It proposed a strong national government with three branches: legislative, executive, and judicial. The executive called for a president and vice president, the legislature was to consist of one house, and the judiciary was to consist of a Supreme Court and lower federal courts. Opponents of Madison's plan drafted the so-called New Jersey Plan, which called for elimination of the lower federal courts. Its drafters felt the state courts were best positioned to handle disputes that would have been resolved in the Virginia Plan's lower federal courts. The