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Court Systems and Judging Rationales

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Court Systems and Judging Rationales


This paper will discuss dual court systems, what they are and why we have them. As well as the possibility of a monolithic court system due to drive to have all courts unified and whether it could be an effective system. Also discussed will be the philosophical rationales and sentencing guidelines judges use when giving judgments. An example of a situation I would find hard to judge myself will be provided.

Court Systems and Judging Rationales

A dual court system is the two tiered judiciary system comprised of the State and Federal court systems. When the original thirteen colonies started settling in the 1700's each state had started its own court system which mostly mirrored the English system. Then when the Constitution was enacted in 1789 creating the governments federal court system it became a dual system as both started growing together (Farlex, 2010). Some states have successfully unified their court systems, but unification onto a monolithic court system seems unlikely to happen anytime soon between the state and federal systems and if it did would likely not be very effective. Each state, and even the systems within the states themselves, is so very different from each other that trying to create a single court system would not work. While the call for unification has been happening for at least 100 years, there are still many people within the courts and educational systems that it is not necessary. They believe that there are other issues that can be central to the courts performance than its structure and that the decentralization of the courts is what makes them respond better to local needs (National Center for State Courts, 2008).

Judges use certain guidelines and philosophies when making their judgments. They are; retribution, incapacitation, deterrence, rehabilitation, and restoration. The goals of sentencing today are to try and limit a criminals potential for harming other people by not letting by regular society for a certain period of time or possibly never letting them around others again (Schmalleger, 1991-2009). My choice if I were a judge would be a mixture of the retribution, incapacitation, and restorative goals. Retribution goal sentencing says that when criminals do wrong they need to be punished- period. It is in a way taking revenge on the criminal for their crime. This is a "just deserts" or let the punishment fit the crime philosophy. For incapacitation it can range from some form of incarceration (not necessarily prison), to a chemical used to incapacitate (such as chemical castration), though it is mostly used in the form of prison and jail sentences. Restorative sentencing involves the offender repaying, society, the victim or both for the crime committed. This is usually done by the offender being financially responsible for the repayment (Online Encyclopedia of Crimnal Justice, 2007). For me the punishment should fit the crime, if a life is taken a life should be given in return. I also believe though that through incapacitation and the better programs that help teach convicts that will be returning to society a skill while in jail or prison, could help give them an alternative to crime when that happens. As a term of release from incapacitation some form of restoration to the victim or society should be made.

A case I would find very hard to make a judgment on would be a case were family member of a murder victim killed the offender accused or convicted

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