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Category Archives: Court System

A Short History Of The U.S. Court System – Part 2

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Not many people know that when the Constitution was written, the Supreme Court was created as a compromise – middle ground between states’ rights advocates and Federalists. In the first 10 years of operation, the Supreme Court only decided about 50 cases. The founding fathers did not know how greatly it would be used and needed. But in the years of 1801-1835, under Chief Justice John Marshall, the Supreme Court would prove to be a major aspect of the United States Court System, as it became more involved, more united, and more productive.

During the meetings of the very first Congress for our country, congressmen worked to outline a workable national judiciary that would follow the constitution yet still address their concerns. Again, the Federalists and Anti-federalists made their arguments. The law that emerged from this debate was the Judiciary Act of 1789.

Under this historic act, a three-part judiciary was established:

1) A Supreme Court, consisting of a chief justice and five associate justices (and would meet in Washington, DC)

2) Three circuit courts, each having two justices of the Supreme Court and a district judge; and

3) Thirteen district courts, each presided over by one district judge.

The middle tier of this new system — the U.S. circuit courts — acted as the principal trial courts in this newly adopted court system. Each justice was assigned to one of three geographical circuits, and attended the appropriate meetings within the districts of that circuit. The term “circuit riding” came about at this time. Judges usually spent more time on their circuit court duties than their district court duties.

bald-eagle-portrait-white-tailed-eagle-adler-38998As the ratification process of the Constitution was underway, many citizens voiced fears about the power of an independent federal judiciary. They felt it could threaten state courts and restrict some civil liberties. So, the Judiciary Act responded accordingly, to bring these concerned citizens some reassurance. It allowed state courts to exercise concurrent jurisdiction over many federal questions. It also required federal courts to select juries according to the procedures used by the district’s state courts. Lastly, it guaranteed the right to trial in the district where the defendant lived.

At the same time that debates and decisions were underway involving the Judiciary Act, Congress was discussing the Bill of Rights, and this legislation provided still more assurances that the federal courts would respect certain liberties such as trial by jury.

It became clear that the three-tiered court system was being developed and accepted by the U.S. citizens. And so, we have a multi-tiered federal court structure that operates in conjunction with state courts—an arrangement conceived in 1789 that is still in place today.

Tijerina Legal Group is proud of our country’s history and heritage, and takes the upholding of justice very seriously. We serve McAllen, Brownsville, and surrounding areas of Texas. Contact your dedicated McAllen personal injury attorney to speak with someone committed to your legal rights.

U.S. Courts

A Short History of The U.S. Court System

By | Court System, Law | No Comments

As personal injury attorneys, we are dependent on the court system to deliver justice for our fellow citizens.  The US court system is vast and complex—worthy of appreciation and respect.  It’s also a distinct part of our unique American identity.

Our multi-tiered judiciary system protects individual rights through the supremacy of the federal courts and the work done by the state courts. This balancing act didn’t just happen.  It’s the result of countless hours of discussion among the Founding Fathers, like George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay.  You may know a lot about our system today, but what about how it came to be?

HOW IT BEGANU.S. court history

The Constitutional Convention in 1787, the development of the United States Constitution itself (ratified in 1788), and the First Congress in 1789.

Four years after the end of the Revolutionary War, The Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia took place.  More than 50 delegates at this meeting conducted a fierce debate about how to frame the Constitution and how to structure a national justice system.  They also set out to structure a national judiciary.

Excerpted from the National Archives and Records Administration: In all, 55 delegates attended the Constitutional Convention sessions, but only 39 actually signed the Constitution.

There were two distinct groups in opposition regarding how the Constitution should be crafted. The Federalists were strong proponents of a mighty, powerful national government. They were suspicious of the parochial prejudice of state courts. Federalists and their supporters believed that the federal judiciary should consist of trial courts, appellate courts, and one supreme tribunal.

The Anti-federalists supported states’ rights. They feared that a dominant federal judiciary would undermine the states’ authority and that the federal government would be too powerful. They felt that the state should have both trial and appellate courts, and that the supreme federal court would exist to hear final appeals.

When the U.S. Constitution was ratified, it addressed this disagreement, but not in full. It sketched out a federal court system in general terms, and introduced a distinctly American concept—the Supreme Court.

Article III of the Constitution begins,

“The judicial Power of the United States shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish.”

President George Washington chose the very first Supreme Court justices.

The Tijerina Personal Injury Law Firm of Mcallen, Texas welcomes your inquiries, and is proud to share this fascinating information about how our incredible justice system developed.