The US’ criminal court system serves a crucial function in society. It provides justice to citizens, punishing and reforming those who have committed crimes and providing assistance to victims. However, the system has much to improve. Even though the Constitution outlines how the criminal court system should function, it still is vulnerable to error in different areas. The criminal court system, while dedicated to justice, is composed of people and people are always subject to error. Much has changed since the establishment of the US criminal court system though, and it continues to strive for excellence.
There are many factors that prevent it from attaining its ideal form, like budget constraints. It is still important to explore a perfect criminal court system however, to see where developments in the present justice system should take place. It is difficult to conceive of a perfect criminal court system because emphasis on certain parts of the system usually means compromise on others. For example, if one conceives of a system where all judges are elected into their positions, then that would mean too much money will be spent during the election.
Even if money is not considered as a factor in an ideal situation, too much time will still be consumed during the election. It is still possible however, to conceive of a perfect criminal court system where at least budget constraints are not an issue. The perfect criminal court system would take many things from the present criminal court system, particularly the structure, but would eliminate errors in its application. Courts in the American court system serve specific functions defined by the Constitution or statues that created such courts.
There are basically two types of courts: trial courts and appellate courts, both of which may be retained in a perfect criminal court system. A trial court resolves factual disputes between two opposing interests while an appellate court decides on an appeal by a disagreeing party after a hearing in a trial court (Schneider, 2006, p. 95-97). In a perfect criminal court system, the two different functions of trial and appellate courts should remain. An appellate court should not receive any new evidence or witness and must only apply rules of law based on facts gathered by a trial court.
The US Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the country. It exercises jurisdiction over appeals from the Court of Appeals and Circuit Courts of Appeal. It may also exercise original jurisdiction over cases that affect public ministers and consuls, ambassadors, and even the president. It must remain that way in a perfect criminal court system, so that there will be a check on the power of the lower courts (Schneider, 2006, p. 102). The Supreme Court in a perfect criminal court system must still operate in a federal court system in an ideal situation.
While many elements of the current criminal court system should be retained like the ones mentioned, there are also several things that have to be changed. One of the most sensitive processes in a criminal court is the selection of the jury. The current system chooses juries from lists of voters. The idea here is to have a sample of the American society in the jury to make decisions regarding a criminal case. Thus, the more the jury resembles American society, then it is more aligned with its ideal.
To make this happen, it would be wiser to use a more comprehensive list of citizens, such as lists of motorists from government agencies. This would be more complete because more citizens drive than vote on elections. This way, more citizens will have a chance to be selected as part of a jury, which means the jury more closely resembles American society. However, racial minorities are less likely to own automobiles than the white majority, so it is advisable to have some statistical control on the value of race in the selection process (Banks, 2004, p. 63).