Court Systems Interview

Court Systems Interview

Julia Jewett



George Gallitano

Court Systems Interview

This paper consists of an interview conducted by Julia Jewett with Judge Mitchells. The interview consists of a discussion of the distinguishing features of the major court system, ranging from the U.S. Supreme Court through federal district courts and state-level superior courts. The topic of key players in the court system will be discussed. The interview also covers jurisdictional rules and interpretation issues. Julia and Judge Mitchells will also discuss the effect of evolving technologies on court proceedings at each level.


Julia: “Judge Mitchells, according to “FindLaw” (2017), “There are two kinds of courts in this country – state courts and federal courts” (para. 1). What would you describe as the distinguishing features of these two major court systems?”

Judge: “Well Julia, federal courts make decisions on disputes that involve the Constitution and laws that have been passed by Congress. They are formed under the U.S. Constitution. According to “United States Courts” (2017), “Article III of the Constitution invests the judicial power of the United States in the federal court system. Article III, Section 1 specifically creates the U.S. Supreme Court and gives Congress the authority to create the lower federal courts” (para. 2). A federal court will only hear specific types of cases. These types of cases include ones that involve the constitutionality of habeas corpus issues, a law, bankruptcy, those that involve the treaties and laws of the United States, those involving public ministers and ambassadors, a dispute between two or more states, and admiralty law. Although federal courts hear few cases than state courts, their cases tend to be of national importance and are more widely known.”

“State courts are formed by the individual states. Local courts are established in the state by the counties, cities, and other municipalities. The laws of each state and the constitution form the state courts. The Supreme Court, or court of last resort, is typically the highest court. The trial courts, or circuit or district courts, are below the intermediate level Court of Appeals. State courts will hear most criminal cases, probate cases, tort cases, contract cases, and family law. State courts hear a larger number of cases and are typically the court most dealt with by the public.”

Julia: “Who would you define as the key players within these court systems? And what can you tell us about these key players?”

Judge: “I would define the key players as being the judge, the jury, the prosecution, and the defense attorney. As stated by the Constitution, federal judges are to be nominated by the President of the United States and confirmed by the Senate. They will typically hold their office for life, given good behavior. However, if there is misbehavior, federal judges may be removed from office through Congressional impeachment proceedings. The judge will rule on of issues of law that come up. In the federal district court, the prosecutor is called the U.S. Attorney.”

“State court judges and prosecutor are elected officials. In a bench trial, the judge will decide on the verdict. District judges will determine the appropriate punishment and sentence for the convicted. The jury consists of citizens. According to “Judicial Learning Center” (2015), “Their job is to consider all of the evidence in an unbiased way, and render a verdict for one side or the other” (para. 6). There is always 12 jurors in federal criminal trials. The number may vary in federal civil trials, but there is always between 6 and 12 jurors. In a criminal case, the government is accusing someone of breaking the law and is bring a suit against them. The person who plays this role in the court room is the prosecutor. The person being accused is called the defendant. This person may choose to have a defense attorney represent them during the court proceedings. If they are unable to afford a private attorney, they may have one appointed to them from the Federal Public Defenders Office. However, the accused may also choose to represent themself.”

Julia: “Thank you for that Judge Mitchells. Technology seems to be taking over most aspects of our lives in today’s society. We have even seen it working its way into the criminal justice system and court proceedings. What do you see as the effect of evolving technologies on court proceedings at each level?”

Judge: “You are correct. Technology has been working its way into court proceedings. According to Gibson (2006), “Although many judges and practitioners initially resisted the evolution of technology in the courtroom, technological advances-primarily driven by the ease of display through laptop computers-have become standard, and many judges now insist that lawyers rely on electronic exhibits and abandon their tried-and-true paper exhibits” (para. 1). Technology has helped to make cases easier to understand and have helped to speed up the trial process. When deciding to use technology in a courtroom, it is essential to determine what is available and what the judge will allow. Many courtrooms now have visual presenters for example. These have replaced the overhead projector that would project transparencies. A visual presenter will project an actual image of a document or physical exhibits. However, it is important to know the preferences of the judge assigned to the case. Some judges that the exhibits are physically handed by the witnesses. It is also important to remember that technology does fail us from time to time, even in the courtroom. So it is essential to have a backup plan if one is going to use this method in the court. Technology has helped for the jury to be able to see exhibits, rather than simply hearing them described by a witness. Technology will continue to evolve, and I am sure we will see more and more of it in the courtroom as time progresses. However, I believe it is important for everyone involved to remember that technology is not always the best option and to use reason when deciding what types of technology should be used and how.”

Julia: “Thank you Judge Mitchells for this interview. I think we have covered a lot of ground and information in regards to the courtroom and the court system. We appreciate your time and knowledge in this area.”


These two courts, federal and state courts, share several aspects such as both having a judge, jury, prosecution, defense. There are some differences between the two court systems, however. The majority of these differences lay in the types of cases that are heard. This is an important distinguishing aspect. In both courts, the key player’s roles are extremely similar. The prosecution is responsible for bringing the case against the defendant, the defense is responsible for showing reasonable doubt or the defendant’s innocence, and the jury is responsible for the decision of guilt or innocence. In both courts, these roles are crucial to ensuring the defendant receives a fair and unbiased trial. Not all cases can be appealed and it is important to understand when this is appropriate.


FindLaw. (2017). Retrieved from

Gibson, S. (2006). Evolving Courtroom Technology. Retrieved from

Judicial Learning Center. (2015). Retrieved from

United States Courts. (2017). Retrieved from

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