Trial and Appellate Courts

Trial courts and appellate courts have differences not only in their functions but also in what and who are involved in the proceedings. Trial courts are the point of origin for the cases. The prosecutor’s function is to prove the defendant guilty through evidence, witness testimony, and possibly cross-examination of the defendant. The defense attorney works to disprove the prosecutor’s case through in the same manner as the prosecutor.

The trial is presided over by a single judge and is generally heard by a jury who considers all the information to provide a guilty or not guilty verdict. Contrarily, appellate courts have fewer players participating: no witnesses, no evidence, and no juries. Appellate courts, attorneys from both sides are present and possibly the defendant, but the judicial presence may be a single judge or a group of judges (Meyer & Grant, 2003). In addition to a difference in the key players and the use of evidence, the functions, roles, and outcomes of appellate courts are dissimilar from the trial courts as well. The function of the appellate courts is not to decide whether the defendant is guilty or innocent, but to decide whether the application of the law or laws was appropriate and legal.

The role of the appellate courts is protector of the Constitution and its Amendments and how it is construed in the course of the trial. The outcomes of the appeals, whether overturned or not may set precedence for future cases throughout the country. Many appellate court decisions change laws and affect future rulings in the lower courts (Meyer & Grant, 2003).

ReferenceMeyer, J. & Grant, D. (2003). The courts in our criminal justice system. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.