Judicial Process

Understanding the dynamics of the courthouse and working inside the framework of politics and law, judicial review blends and joins all the information about the process and structure of the American judiciary system. It entails the organization and procedures of all courts and their workings.

Judicial process is the set of rules that establish the judicial system, determine the role of the judge and the jury in a courtroom, and assign particular courts jurisdiction over certain types of cases. Judicial process also establishes which type of court – civil court, criminal court, court of appeals, etc. –can hear specific cases. Judicial process also says how the judicial proceedings are to be conducted, especially with regard to the dispensation of justice as ordered by the court. The Constitution of the United States has granted the Supreme Court the power to issue directions, orders and writs for enforcing any rights secured by the constitution.

Courts are an integral part of the legal system in the United States. There are millions of cases filed through the court systems every year. These cases involve crimes, wills, contracts, taxes, accidents, divorce, adoptions, malpractice, product liability and anything that can affect the basic rights of Americans. The most important of those rights is the right to freedom of speech. The decisions of the courts can have a profound influence on every American in many different ways.

The goal of judicial process is to make sure that all parties receive the due process and fundamental justice provided to them under the Constitution. Some refer to this process as procedural law, as it requires that the proper procedures be followed with respect to rights of information, rights to justice and rights to participation. Procedural law differs from substantive law, which encompasses the actual claims and defenses that may be introduced in court.

A part of judicial process involves what is called social ordering, which refers to that element that rights any wrong and ensures that injustice is removed from society. The need for judicial process is very important in light of our fast-moving and ever-changing society. There are court cases being heard that would never have come to court years ago. The system of justice changes with every passing year.

There is great debate about whether judges should be given more discretion and leeway when it comes to the decision-making process. The court system is backlogged with cases because cases become drawn out under the guise of judicial process. If judges were given a freer hand, the court docket would be greatly facilitated.

Following is a simple example of judicial process. Although it involves the case of a male student who had charges brought against him, the same process can be applied to any court and any charge, large or small.

Notification -- the student will receive a letter advising him that a judicial charge has been lodged against him. The student schedules an appointment by the date indicated on the letter with the Office of Judicial Affairs.

The Appointment -- the charges will be explained to the student by a hearing officer. The student will be advised of his rights. The student will be told of the procedures. If the student wishes to make a statement, he is given that opportunity.

The Decision -- the student is advised of any decision that has been made. If the student is found not guilty, the process is over. If the student is found guilty, the punishment will be announced. The student has the option to accept or reject the verdict.

The Options -- if the student accepts the decision, the procedure is over. If the student rejects the verdict, the case goes to the Judicial Council for deliberation. The Judicial Council hears the case without any knowledge of the decision of the judicial office and may or may not come to the same decision.

The Appeal -- if the student accepts the verdict of the judicial council, the case is over. The student has the right to appeal the decision within three days. Any appeal decision is final.

Judicial Process: Selected full-text books and articles

Judgment Calls: Principle and Politics in Constitutional Law By Daniel A. Farber; Suzanna Sherry Oxford University Press, 2009
How Judges Think By Richard A. Posner Harvard University Press, 2008
Decision: How the Supreme Court Decides Cases By Bernard Schwartz Oxford University Press, 1997
Making Law in the United States Courts of Appeals By David E. Klein Cambridge University Press, 2002
Storm Center: The Supreme Court in American Politics By David M. O'Brien W. W. Norton, 2000 (5th edition)
The Federal Courts: Challenge and Reform By Richard A. Posner Harvard University Press, 1996
Judges on Judging: Views from the Bench By David M. O'Brien Chatham House Publishers, 1997
Librarian’s tip: Part II "The Dynamics of the Judicial Process"
Obstruction of Justice By Lent, Eric; Williams, Melinda American Criminal Law Review, Vol. 39, No. 2, Spring 2002
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