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Administration of Justice: Definition & Overview

Instructor: Ryan Futo
The administration of justice in the U.S. court system includes many divisions. All of these sections work together to ensure the bottom line of justice for all, and there are guidelines in place to reach that decisive goal.

The Administration of Justice

The administration of justice in the U.S. court system includes the personnel, activity, and structure of the justice system. Specifically, it includes those who work to investigate crimes, those who work in the trial process of the alleged crimes, laws that govern investigative and courtroom activity, and the courts themselves.

Here, we will further discuss the U.S. court system's role in the administration of justice, which is to ensure equality and fairness, to uphold the law, and to punish those who do wrong. The criminal court system is a multi-level structure that includes many individuals. In addition, there are plenty of checks and balances in place to safeguard against the violation of rights.

The U.S. Court System Structure

To picture the court structure, imagine that you are looking at a pyramid. The largest layer, the base, is made up of the U.S. district courts. There are ninety-four of them and they are the primary trial courts in the United States.

The second layer in our pyramid is going to be the U.S. court of appeals, more commonly known as the appellate courts. The appellate courts are divided into twelve regional circuits, which oversee appealed cases for the U.S. district courts.

The top layer of our pyramid is going to be the highest court, the U.S. Supreme Court. When a case is sent to the U.S. Supreme Court, it is typically because the U.S. court of appeals cannot agree on an answer, or because the constitutionality or legality of a law is in question.

The foremost difference between the courts lies in the panel of judges. If you see a federal court case that includes one judge, you are witnessing a case in a U.S. district court. In the U.S. court of appeals, instead of a trial, three judges will review the case. Finally, in the U.S. Supreme Court, nine judges will be used as an evaluation panel.

Courtroom Roles

Each federal court is essentially set up the same, administratively. Each court has a chief judge who is, in essence, in charge of his or her own specific court. Judges, attorneys, and jurors are critical courtroom roles. Others include the clerk of courts, court reporters, and court librarians. There are additional bodies that oversee the court, like the Federal Judicial Administration. This judiciary is completely independent of the court and has sole authority to hire staff and maintain the budget. Federal judges oversee the judiciary positions and also ensure integrity on the bench is of the utmost quality.

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