The U.S. Legal System Explained

The U.S. Legal System Explained

The American legal system can seem quite complex, especially when you live in a different state to the person you’ve taken to court for whatever reason. We’ve come up with a brief summary to help you grasp the basics!

The U.S. Legal System Explained

First of all, there are two types of laws: federal and state. Congress and state legislators decide on what the federal and state laws. Federal laws are enforced and created by the federal government. State laws are enforced and created by the state.

Below, we break down each component of the U.S. Legal System.

Federal Laws

The Congress executes federal laws. Drafted Bills are debated by the Senate and House of Representatives. Once a final vote on the matter has been achieved, it is then passed on to the President to make a final decision of the vote. This decision then becomes the law.

State Laws

The state can pass laws in which jurisdiction they share with Congress.

Courts of Law

Courts enforce laws as well as create the common laws which are not covered by the state or federal laws.


Types of Courts

Trial Courts

This type of court tries civil cases that have not been resolved.

Appellate Courts

This court discusses trial case decisions to come to a final verdict

Federal Courts

This court has jurisdiction of federal law violations and diversity jurisdiction involving the two parties in a case who come from different states.

Types of Cases

Civil and Criminal

The federal government or state prosecute criminal law violations. Civil cases occur when two parties have a legal dispute over common law violations.


If a case does not come to a resolution it then goes to a trial by jury.


A losing party of any case who is unhappy with the outcome of a case can then go to a court to appeal in the appellate court.


Parties choose to resolve a dispute with arbitration instead of a lawsuit with a registered arbitrator. There is no judge or jury and it’s quicker and much cheaper!



Divorce Cases Exemplifying State Laws

Divorce Cases Exemplifying State Laws

Divorce proceedings hardly ever bode well. It makes it even more difficult when your divorce case is through a court of law in a particular state of America. Every state has their own laws for grounds of divorce to be granted. Below, we take a look at three divorce cases that have become the epitome for state divorce laws!

#1 – William Diemer v. Gilberte Diemer (1960)

Mrs. Diemer was a Roman Catholic and her husband was a Protestant. After a consultation with her priest, Mrs. Diemer demanded that Mr. Diemer renew their marital vows in a Roman Catholic church or else she would deny him any kinds of sexual relations. The courts denied a legal separation and Mrs. Diemer acquired full custody of their child.

The divorce laws in New York in the 60s had been the same since 1787: Divorce was only granted on grounds of unfaithfulness on either spouse. During 1966, in order for a divorce to be granted, seven grounds stated in the Domestic Relations Law were implemented. A couple had to cite any one of those seven reasons in order to be granted a divorce.

#2 – Orr v. Orr (1979)

Mr. Orr filed a lawsuit in the United States Supreme Court stating the Alabama alimony law was based on gender discrimination and it was unconstitutional. The Alabama alimony law at the time stated that only men were required to pay alimony during divorce proceedings. Naturally, this legislation was now frowned upon. Now, both parties to the divorce proceedings are required to pay alimony based on the length of the marriage.

#3 – McCarty v. McCarty (1981)

In the U.S Supreme Court of California, Mr. McCarty argued that the law of the equal right to all communal property barring separate property of each spouse should not include his military retirement fund. He asked the court to keep his army pension as a separate property. Due to state and federal law differences, the Uniformed Services Spouses Protection Act has implemented dependant on state rulings.

Do you think there are other divorce cases which have set new precedents?

3 Personal Injury Lawsuits Which Made History!

3 Personal Injury Lawsuits Which Made History!

There are many instances when a person can physically and financially suffer as a result of injuries from the manufacturing of defunct products, loss of income from debilitating road accidents, and food vendor negligence. Below, we outline three infamous personal injury cases that have made history!

#1 – Gladys Escola (Hand injury from a manufactured defunct product)

In 1944, Gladys Escola suffered a severe hand injury resulting from an exploding Coca-Cola glass bottle. Her injuries included burst blood vessels and damaged nerves in her hand. The Supreme Court of California ruled in her favor. An improved law of Strict Liability on manufacturing companies in terms of the negligence of safety testing procedures came into effect in 1963.

#2 – Gloria Estefan (Back injury from road accident involving a truck)

In March 1990, Gloria was involved in a serious bus accident as a result of a truck plowing into her stationary tour bus. She broke her back and had to cancel her tours for a year,  therefore, resulting in a lack of income. After filing a lawsuit against the trucking company, Gloria and her tour team members were awarded 8.5 million dollars.

#3 – Stella Liebeck (3rd-degree burns injury from food vendor negligence)

In 1992, Stella Liebeck suffered from 3rd-degree burns after handling a boiling cup of coffee purchased from a McDonald’s Drive-Through. Stella took the famous food vendor to the court which then went to trial.

The evidence presented at trial included that the normal temperature for a cup of coffee was about 135-degrees. McDonald’s hot coffee measured a whopping 185-degree temperature which would result in instant 3rd-degree burns.

It was also revealed that McDonald’s had ignored well over 700 complaints from customers of burn injuries from hot beverages. Eventually, she was awarded $500 000 in damages. This case prompted improved consumer protection laws relating to food vendor negligence.

Cases of personal injury mostly rule in favor of the plaintiff due to severe repercussions of debilitating circumstances such as those mentioned above. There will always be cases warranting legislature improvements. May these improvements continue!