The Role of United States Specialized Courts

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The United States dual court system includes both federal and state level courts. the state level courts remain essential in overseeing state laws and constitution. Notably, cases from the state trial courts may reach the United States Supreme Court. However, they have to first pass through several state courts before being heard in the U.S. Supreme court. Also, the existence of United States’ specialized courts marks a crucial effort towards ensuring public safety.

From State Trial Court to the U.S. Supreme Court

In the United States, most of the cases begin in two places: a state trial or federal district court. Cases that begin from the state trial court might, in some instances, reach the United States supreme court. They pass through the intermediate appellate courts to the state supreme courts and lastly the U.S. supreme court (Scheb & Sharma, 2013).

State Trial Courts

These courts handle almost all cases that involve state criminal and civil laws. Typically, they are known as the county, district, circuit, municipal or superior courts. In state trial courts, a judge and, in some instances, a jury hears the evidence and testimony and decides on a case through applying the law to the case facts. Appeals from these courts get directed to the intermediate courts of appeal.

The Intermediate Court of Appeal (ICA)

In the United States, only ten states lack ICAs. The ICAs remain the first court of appeals in almost all the states (Scheb & Sharma, 2013). These courts possess the power and authority to review the decisions of a state trial court, as well as any judgment previously won in the trial court. The court reviews the decisions for factual or legal errors and possesses the power to change the judgment or decision of the trial court. Appeals for the ICAs are made to the State supreme courts

State Supreme Courts

These courts exist almost in all states. The state supreme courts commonly choose the cases that they would wish to decide. Most of the cases end in this court. However, if the court rules against an individual or refuses to hear their case, one can petition the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case (Scheb & Sharma, 2013).

United States Supreme Court

It is the premier court in the United States. These court remains free to reject or accept the cases that it hears (Neubauer & Fradella, 2018). Upon rejection, the state supreme court’s decision stands. However, it gets mandated to hear specific rare mandatory appeals as well as cases within its jurisdiction as indicated by the constitution.

Specialized Courts

The genesis of specialized courts lies with prosecutors and judges who believed that a therapeutic approach to address criminal offending was essential to increase public safety and reduce reoffending. They include drug courts, reentry courts, veterans’ treatment courts as well as domestic violence courts (Neubauer & Fradella, 2018). Most of the specialized courts get organized under three guiding principles. The first one involves the problem-solving function that targets solving the problem by concentrating on the core issues. It is an approach that depends on rehabilitation to attain its task. Secondly, collaboration requires all courtroom players including attorneys, judges, supervision agencies, service providers as well as community members to solve the issue. Lastly, accountability demands for compliance by defendants, social service agents, and courtroom players by tracking results and performance.

Definitely, specialized courts remain a good idea. They attempt to provide real solutions to a problem rather than running a defendant through the system. This lessens the likelihood of further criminal justice involvement. Moreover, these courts significant contribute to a decreased criminal activity in the communities and thus lowering the reliance on the justice system. Lastly, they endeavor to guard less serious offenders from adverse incarceration impacts as well as offer rehabilitative programs that can assist in integrating offenders into the society as law-abiding residents (Neubauer & Fradella, 2018).

Drug Courts in Virginia

In the U.S., almost all jurisdictions have drug courts. Specifically, in Virginia, there are over 35 drug treatment courts authorized to operate. Since their establishment, these courts have always been effective. They have significantly contributed to a reduction in drug usage among defenders who participate in these courts programs. Also, there have been notable reductions in recidivism among participants (Cheesman et al., 2016). Further, these courts have ensured the integration of other rehabilitation services to drug treatment to promote long-term recovery of participants. Such programs include mentor relationships as well as various educational programs.

Although drug courts have achieved notable success rates, it remains evident that they are expensive to run. However, this should never impede their existence. They have significantly enhanced public safety and improved the lives of many in the communities. The benefits associated with these courts remain incomparable to the associated costs. What policymakers should do is devising policies to aid the funding of these courts and maintain their effectiveness. Such strategies include the development of local approaches to sustain these courts (Cheesman et al., 2016). This can get achieved by including intensive client fee system, encouraging community partnerships, seeking grants from non-profit organizations as well as conducting fundraising events.


The United State Supreme court remains the highest court in America. Cases from state trial court may reach the U.S. supreme court through the intermediate appellate courts to the state supreme courts. Further, specialized courts remain essential in solving the root causes of criminal offenses and thus reducing reoffending and increasing public safety. Therefore, policymakers should adopt and develop more financing strategies to ensure that specialized courts run smoothly to achieve their ends.


Cheesman, F. L., Graves, S. E., Holt, K., Kunkel, T. L., Lee, C. G., & White, M. T. (2016). Drug Court Effectiveness and Efficiency: Findings for Virginia. Alcoholism Treatment Quarterly, 34(2), 143-169.

Neubauer, D., & Fradella, H. (2018). America's Courts and the Criminal Justice System (13th ed.). Boston: Cengage Learning.

Scheb, J., & Sharma, H. (2013). An introduction to the American legal system (3rd ed.). New York City: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.

December 12, 2023



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