11 Jan 2023


The Dual Court System in the United States Judiciary

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Academic level: College

Paper type: Research Paper

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The Judiciary in the U.S operates in a dual court system with courts at the states and national levels. Further, each of the two levels has three tiers involving appellate courts, trial courts, and the Supreme Court. Each court differs from the others in terms of jurisdiction and structure. In the discussion below, I will discuss the various ways used by the United States Supreme Court to decide on hearing a case and the paths a case follows through the court system. Additionally, I will discuss the prevalence, importance, and effectiveness of special drug courts in problem-solving. 

The Supreme Court hears cases emerging from two strict pathways; the U.S court of appeal and the state supreme courts. In situations where a case has the potential to be heard by the Supreme Court, the initial step includes filing a lawsuit in federal or state trial courts. Before decisions are made, the trial judge hears the evidence from both sides to gather legal arguments from the case. According to the decisions of the judge, once the parties are not satisfied with the final judgment, they can appeal to a high court and probably the U.S. Supreme court. In this step, the parties are required to file a “writ of certiorari” to be granted a petition by the U.S. Supreme court. 

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The United States Supreme court handles minimal cases, about 10% or less in the cases presented every year. Therefore, most of the cases filed by writing a “writ of certiorari” are prone to be rejected if the issues in the petition do not qualify to be heard at the Supreme Court (Matusow, Dickman, Rich JD, et al. 2013). In the “writ of certiorari, the parties include the historical facts of the case and the other legal issues for the Supreme Court to decide either or not to hear the case. The file goes through a review by the Supreme Court clerks, who summarize the basic information for the judges and recommends on whether to uphold the case. After making the final decision on the case, the justices provide a “writ of certiorari” if they decide to hear the case. 

Specialized courts were primarily created as problem-solving courts with two operational distinctions; the mental health courts and drug courts. The first drug court was developed in 1989 in Florida. By prevalence, the adult drug courts account for over 55% prevalence while the other mental health, juvenile, and family drug courts account for the remaining percentage (Matusow, Dickman, Rich JD, et al. 2013). Drug courts are specialized court dockets that deal with criminal offenders and defendants, juvenile offenders, and cases involving alcohol and other drugs prevalence. The estimated number of operational drug courts in the United States is above 3000, targeting adults most those involved in Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) cases, juvenile and veteran cases. 

Drug courts are operated by a team of multi-disciplinary judges, defense attorneys, treatment service professionals, and prosecutors. Additionally, the drug courts operate according to the target group and program design to handle models involving drugs testing, treatment, and rehabilitation. In my opinion, the specialized courts are the right decision since they were created to solve the problems that could otherwise result in criminal offenses. The specialized courts offer chances to alter crimes by changing the defendants’ drug abuse usage. The defendants who agree to co-operate experience reduced sentences, and thus, they are taken through programs to help them recover from drug abuse. 

However, there are several specialized drug courts in my jurisdiction dealing with drug abuse among young people and cases involving driving under the influence of alcohol. The specialized drug courts are very effective since they have helped in reducing recidivism prevalence. Some of the direct consequences include relatively short term incarceration and providing alternatives to probation for the drug abuse addicts who pledge to co-operate in the guidelines of the courts. Additionally, the indirect consequences include screening the perpetrators to identify the possible risks and carrying out judicial interactions with victims to reduce the sentences and counter further criminal offenses. 

Specialized courts are expensive to operate despite their efforts to help victims recover from their conditions. The cost of conducting treatment and rehabilitation for the perpetrators is relatively higher, making it hard for the operations to be run smoothly. The most crucial consideration, in this case, is to uphold effectiveness through controlling the number of specialized courts such that there are no more institutions added to the existing ones. The reasoning behind my opinion is that an increase in the specialized courts number may lead to poor services offered in addition to draining away the available resources. Therefore, to balance the effectiveness and cost in the specialized courts, the state should operate a constant few institutions in a given area for improved success guarantee. 

In conclusion, the United States Supreme court serves at the top level in the U. S. dual court system. The jurisdictions of cases with potential for hearing at both federal and state reviews are different since no two court systems are the same. Specialized courts offer solutions to problems regarding drug abuse, mental health issues, veterans, and juvenile cases. The drug courts provide second chances to offenders to reduce their sentence by providing court programs that rehabilitate the drug abuse addicts on their approval. Although they are expensive to operate, the drug courts assist in lowering levels of recidivism prevalence. Therefore, the drug courts should be regulated such that no more courts should be added to provide efficient services as expected. 


Matusow H, Dickman SL, Rich JD, et al. (2013). “Medication Assisted Treatment in US Drug Courts: Results from a Nationwide Survey of Availability, Barriers and Attitudes.” Journal of substance abuse treatment 


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