Role of Courts in the Criminal Justice System

Role of the Criminal Court Systems

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Role of the Criminal Court Systems

Criminal justice focuses on the delivery of justice to offenders as well as victims of crime. The justice system is primarily concerned with analyzing the available evidence and integrating law to pass the most appropriate judgment. The criminal justice system comprises of various arms of government which work together in the identification, arresting as well as inflicting appropriate punishment on individuals who are found guilty. The system works hand in hand with law enforcement agencies which take the responsibility of gathering evidence and presenting suspects for sentencing. The system also has other goals such as facilitating rehabilitation of offenders, prevention of crime and provision of sufficient moral support for the incarcerated (Clay, 2017).). The fundamental institutions that enable effective functioning of the justice system are courts, prisons, police, and lawyers (prosecution and defense). The O.J Simpson case is one of the most complex cases that portrayed the conflict between civil and criminal courts. This study aims at exploring the O.J Simpson case to establish which court has jurisdiction over its verdict. The criminal court had the authority to preside over the trial mainly because it was a first-degree murder case.

The O.J. Simpson case refers to the criminal trial of a former football star O.J. Simpson, who was facing murder charges after his ex-wife and her friend were killed in one of her homes. This was one of the most popular and highly celebrated trials in the history of the American judicial system. This was mainly due to its complexity and also because it involved a famous sports figure. According to the evidence provided, on June 12, 1994, Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend were killed in her home in Los Angeles, and police identified Simpson as the primary suspect (Boban, 2018). After receiving the news, Simpson decided not to surrender, but he instead hid at the back of a car driven by his friend and fled. He was later arrested at his home and presented for trial on July 22, 1994, where he pleaded not guilty. Ideally, Simpson had past cases of domestic violence which made the police believe that he must have been involved in the murder of his wife. However, the evidence availed for the trial proved that Simpson was innocent and it was later revealed that the law enforcement officers had planted some of the evidence in an attempt to frame him in what seemed a case of racial prejudice. O.J Simpson was later acquitted and released.

Although Simpson was found innocent for the murder of his wife and her friend and acquitted all the criminal charges facing him, he was later sued by the families of the families of the victims for wrongful death in a civil trial which took four months. In this case, O.J Simpson was sued for being responsible for deaths of Nicole Brown Simpson, and Ronald Goldman and the families were later granted $33.5 million for damages (Boban, 2018). This brought confusion in that the prime suspect had been acquitted by a criminal court which made it clear that he was innocent. However, he, on the other hand, was found responsible for the murders in a civil court and required to pay an outrageous amount of money to the families as damages for the loss caused. This is somewhat confusing as one would not understand how a person acquitted by a criminal court would later be found guilty in a civil court.

The criminal and civil court systems are different justice systems which use different laws and evidence to reach their judgment. In the Simpsons’ civil case, all the court wanted to prove is that the unlawful conduct of the suspect led to the death of the victims. This is not a case of determining who committed the crime but of confirming that the accused was responsible in a way for the deaths of his ex-wife and her friend. While the criminal jury could not find sufficient evidence to prove that Simpson had without reasonable doubt committed the crime, it was easy for the civil jury to find proof that his unlawful conduct resulted in civil liability for the deaths (Neubauer & Fradella, 2018). In the given case, O.J Simpson was a prime suspect in a first-degree murder case, and that automatically gives the criminal court authority to preside over the case. Ideally, this is what happened in the Simpsons case whereby he was pursued and later arrested at his home. The evidence presented was entirely derived from criminal investigations conducted by the relevant investigative units, and it contributed to his eventual acquittal. Though he was suspected of being the perpetrator of the murder, it later occurred that he was entirely innocent.

The O.J Simpson case was handled by two courts systems which are the criminal and civil court. The criminal court had absolute jurisdiction over this case and took center stage in analyzing the evidence and all other factors affecting the case and gave a verdict which favored the suspect. The civil court could not have taken up the Simpson case at first mainly because it was a criminal case which was already in the hands of the criminal court system and involvement of the civil court would interfere with the proceeding and possibly affect the ruling. Notably, the criminal court had the responsibility of proving beyond doubt that the suspect was innocent.


Boban, M. (2018). Race Issues in the OJ Simpson Case–Analysis of Alexander and Karaszewski’s American Crime Story (Doctoral dissertation, University of Zadar. Department of English.).

Clay, S. (2017). The Utilization of Jurors in the American Judicial System.

Neubauer, D. W., & Fradella, H. F. (2018). America’s courts and the criminal justice system. Cengage Learning.