Development of American laws and courtsIntroductionThe roots of the American law and court system can be traced back to the English common law. The primary goal of the early American law while the country was moving from colonialism to independence was to guarantee the right of all citizens with a grievance where the court can adjudicate such wrongs (Neubauer & Fradella, 2016). As such, the law focused on correcting individual problems and this was based on the principle that for every wrong done to the civilian, the law had a remedy to correct it. Over time, as the country grew and evolved, the law and court systems also evolved with it. This paper looks at the development of the American law and court system from the pre-colonial period to the present day.Development of the American lawsThe early settlers to America brought with them the British common laws to the country and this system of law was primarily influenced by the Catholic Church and the premise of the of Mens Reas (McGarvie, 2016). However, the practices of this system had a series of ironies considering that a majority of the colonists came to America to avoid religious persecution in Britain. Nonetheless, the colonial laws continued to be used until the period prior to the American Revolution when William Penn started to campaign for reformation of the criminal justice system (Graber, Levinson & Tushnet, 2015). During the early reforms, much of the attention was given to the need for a legal system that promoted the construction and humane housing for the offenders.The period that followed the end of the American Revolution, the American Constitution was established and as such the Constitution upheld all people’s freedom and equal rights. Due to this, all American citizens could now get better protection, a better model for punishment introduced with elimination of physical punishment in some areas, and expansion of the prisons to house criminals. After this, the Civil war and the reconstruction took the center stage as differences started to emerge between the Northern territories and the Southern on matters of equal rights and how prisoners were treated. At his time, a significant number of prisoners were mainly freed slaves who felt they had rights as prisoners. Times changed and soon, the focus shifted to ideas of rehabilitation due to the increasing number of immigrants coming to the country. As a result, social problems started to increase and the government needed to find a mechanism to deal with them.During the early 20th century, significant reforms that were considered progressive were introduced in the American legal system. Majority of these reforms are attributed to former president Theodore Roosevelt (McGarvie, 2016). During this period, key law enforcement units and agencies were established such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), establishment of new laws governing criminal sentencing, and creation of the juvenile justice system (Neubauer & Fradella, 2016). American laws were significantly reformed during this period due to certain events such as Great Depression, World War I and II and Prohibition. During the post-war period in the 1970s and 1970s, the American legal system experienced massive turbulence caused by war protests and demonstrations, race riots, drug and substance abuse. Consequently, the criminal justice system responded with tougher laws that were aimed to mitigate such issues.The development of the courtsBefore the implementation of the American constitution, the country was mainly ruled by the Articles of the Confederation where all functions of the national government were controlled by a single legislative body known as Congress (Graber, Levinson , 2015). As such, the powers of the legislature and the executive were within a single unit. However, a strong weakness of the Articles of Confederation was the lack of a national judicial system. Due to this weakness, the Congress of the time gathered in Philadelphia in 1787 at the Constitutional Convention where they agreed that it was essential to set up a national judicial system (Snow, 2015).After the ratification of the American constitution, the Judiciary Act of 1789 saw the establishment of a judicial system with a Supreme Court that consisted of a chief justice and five other associate justices. Consequently, this initiated the power to create new but inferior courts and as such, Congress established two other sets of lower courts. In total, the Judiciary Act of 1789 saw the establishment if three courts of appeal with each entailing two justices from the Supreme Court as well as a district judge (McGarvie, 2016). The first American President, George Washington, developed two crucial traditions of the American courts systems when he appointed the first Supreme Court justices. The first tradition he introduced was appointing court officials who were compatible to his political ambitions. Secondly, the appointees made by President Washington had equal geographic representation within the federal courts.Later on in 1891, the Evarts Act was enacted into law allowing the creation of a new set of circuit laws of appeal who primary goal was to hear appeals from the district courts. However, the old circuits courts established in 1789 continued to function (Neubauer & Fradella, 2016). The new courts of appeal was made up of one Supreme Court Justice, one circuit judge, one district judge, and one circuit court of appeals judge and a quorum required the presence of two judges. Additionally, after the Evarts Act was passed, the federal judiciary created two appellate tribunals which included the Supreme Court and the circuit courts of appeal. While majority of the appeals were to be taken to the circuit court of appeals, the act also allowed some of the appeals to be reviewed directly by the Supreme Court.The next major development in the courts system took place in the year 1911 when the Congress abolished the old circuit courts since they did not have jurisdiction for appellate and had functions similar to the district courts (Vile, 2015). Currently, the intermediate appellate tribunals are referred to as courts of appeal on official capacity although most people refer to them as circuit courts. Today, America has 12 regional courts of appeals with 179 judges and their duty is to review cases that have been appealed from the federal districts courts as well as administrative agencies within their jurisdiction. In the year 1982, Congress established a specialized appellate court known as the Federal Circuit whose premise was mainly jurisdictional.ConclusionWith consideration of both state and federal levels, the origin of the American legal system can be traced back to the common law system of the English law introduced by the early settlers. However, as the country continued to evolve and grow, it diverged from its British root in substance, function, and procedure. Today, there are rare occasions where cases in American court mention or refer to foreign material or laws. While there might be occasional mention of the old British cases, the current British laws are rarely mentioned. This is a depiction of how much the law and court systems of the country have evolved into independent entities.

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