Australian Court Hierarchy Essay, Research Paper
The term ?Court Hierarchy? is a very important word in the law world in modern society. It?s definition gives a very clear and concise meaning to the law industry. The phrase can be split into two words to be easily dealt and understood. The word ?court? is from a Greek derivative ?cohors? or ?cohort? meaning courtyard or retinue. It?s definition from the dictionary certainly portrays the law as a very important and distinguished practice. ?a. A person or body of persons whose task is to hear and submit a decision on cases at law.? ?b. The building, hall, or room in which such cases are heard and determined.? The word, ?hierarchy?, however, has a more powerful and specific relation to the law world. It is a Greek derived word and originally came from the word ?hierarkhia?, meaning the rule of a high priest. ?a. A body of clergy organized into successive ranks or grades with each level subordinate to the one above.? ?b. A series in which each element is graded or ranked.? By placing these two words together, it has a responsibility of giving the public a definition of one of the most important practices portrayed by the Court System of Australia. Court Hierarchy is the term given to the system in which the Courts of Australia are split into different levels to deal with different matters by different levels of severity.
The jurisdiction of courts? is very important due to the fact that different courts deal with special matters differently from another court. The term jurisdiction means ?a. The right and power to interpret and apply the law.? This means that the different courts of Australia deal with matters according to severity and relevance of that particular case to be heard in the highest possible court. This is the how the courts of Australia deal with which cases are heard in a specific court. No two courts have the same areas of jurisdiction even though it is a fact that the same case can be appealed and heard in a different court. The higher court which heard the appeal can over-rule the previous verdict. Jurisdiction brings efficiency to the court system allowing minor cases to be filtered through the court system and brought up and heard by the most appropriate court.
In the Court Hierarchy System, there are six courts all together. The names of each from the highest and most powerful court to the lowest, are:
The High Court Of Australia, State Supreme Court, County or District Courts, Magistrates? Court or Court Of Petty Sessions, Coroner?s Court and the Children?s Court. Each have their own ways of dealing with matters and each court handle different cases according to severity and the necessity of hearing the case from the highest possible court. A brief description upon the roles of each court are:
High Court Of AustraliaThe High Court Of Australia is exactly what its name states. It is the highest court in the country. It has seven judges who can either hear cases as individuals or as three, five and seven man panels. The reason for this necessary and very specific numbers is obvious. Having an odd number of judges to hear a case would never end up having both sides reaching a non ?fifty-fifty? verdict. There will always be more votes on a verdict than another. The type of cases heard in the High Court include situations such as interpreting the Constitution when there is a dispute between the States and the Federal Government, any dispute between the States, for example, over boundaries or appeals from the State Courts and the Federal Courts. A person who has been through all the appeal stages in the State Court hierarchy and wishes to appeal once man can go to the High Court. Its decision will be final.
State Supreme Court.The State Supreme Court tends to specialise in a very specific and particular area of the law at any given time. That is, cases such as criminal, civil or commercial cases will be heard by this court. The State Supreme Court, being the second highest court in the country, deal only with very severe cases such as murder, rape, man slaughter, treason, kidnapping and so on. The State Supreme Court?s jurisdiction also covers disputes where one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or more is claimed for personal damages. It also hears appeals from lower courts or Supreme Court cases where a single judge has made the decision. In the situation where an appeal is made against a single judge?s decision this is heard by the full bench of the Supreme Court. This usually means that three judges hear the appeal.
County or District Courts.Towards the mid section of the Australian Court Hierarchy System, lies the County of District Court. The cases that this court?s jurisdiction covers is very similar to those of the Supreme Court. This particular court hear appeals from the lower courts and a great majority of criminal hearings are heard in these courts. The judges appointed to hear the cases of this court are appointed by the State Parliament. The Country Court?s jurisdiction is empowered to hear civil disputes in which one hundred thousand dollars ($100,000) or less is claimed for personal damages.
Magistrates? Court or Courts of Petty Sessions.Another common name for the Magistrates? Court is ?the police court?. This name was given to this particular court due to the fact that a majority of cases brought before this court involve the police having made an investigation of some kind and laying a charge. The prosecutor in these cases is usually a policeman. These courts are presided over by a Magistrate. Most of the trials heard in the Magistrates? Courts are summary offences. This means that the offence is usually minor and can be heard by a Magistrate sitting alone who makes a decision based on the evidence. Offences such as shop lifting, driving charges and minor theft are very common in this particular court. The court?s jurisdiction also covers claims for twenty thousand dollars ($20,000) or less. When a more serious offence has been committed, the Magistrate is usually called upon to hear a committal proceeding.
Coroner?s CourtThe Coroner?s Court?s jurisdiction covers areas of the deaths of people who die violently or under suspicious circumstances. Usually, medical evidence as to the cause of the death as well as police evidence will be heard. If it is found that the death was caused by someone?s deliberate actions, then the Coroner can have that person charged and committed to stand trial.
Children?s CourtChildren?s Courts deal with very light and small offences of juveniles under the age of eighteen.
The term appeal is a Greek derivative of the word, appell re, meaning, to entreat. It?s law related definition is, ?The transfer of a case from a lower to a higher court for a new hearing.? The meaning states exactly what this system plays in the law industry. The system is very commonly practices and like all things, has its advantages and disadvantages. Some examples of advantages of this system can include the correction of wrong verdicts, allows a case to be heard by more than one judge and/or another jury, created the need for judges to be accountable, creates a more flexible legal system, provides ?choices? for plaintiffs and defendants to either pursue or accept legal outcomes and it creates more certainty that the final verdict is the correct one. Being in the developed country of Australia, the appellate system plays a very big role to the citizens who approach it. It provides a sense of certainty that their case heard by it?s judge(s) and/or jury was a fair and accurate trial. On the other hand, whatever has good, also has its bad. The appellate system might not be all that great, but is required for the re-assurance of the people who were tried. Some disadvantages of the appellate system may include the cause of legal systems to drag for too long, provides incentives for solicitors/barristers to earn more money, challenges the ?integrity? of the jury verdict, benefits the rich who can afford to keep cases going, punishes victims who most endure re-hearing evidence that may have caused distress and causes a lack of confidence in the legal system.
While being in such a developed and educated country, the appellate system is much required to ensure the quickest hearing can occur again to fix up a mistake in the verdict of a jury or conclude the case by again, making the same verdict to ensure accuracy in an outcome. With such a just and reasonable system having a such a big role in our society, it boosts the confidence of the citizens of the country by showing us that the legal system is fair and accurate to the smallest detail.