The United States Criminal Justice System combines all departments concerned with law enforcement, prosecuting suspected offenders or lawbreakers, and rehabilitating, correcting, and punishing those found guilty. The discharge of all these services has evolved since changes were introduced in the United States Constitution by Congress and other law-making and amending institutions (Siegel & Worrall, 2018). The changes in policies and by-laws affect law enforcement operations and the courts’ decisions on particular cases. Courts’ decisions are also affected by the lack of provision for particular matters in the constitution and other laws, mainly because Congress has yet to anticipate or imagine scenarios that are being presented. These scenarios, not provided for in the laws and policies, make room for the unsatisfied parties in a court procession to seek an appeal in the higher courts. Sometimes the appeals are caused by misinterpretation of the provisions of law by parties and unfair rulings by the jury.
The prosecution lawyers try to convince the courts that the suspected criminals are guilty by providing evidence, while the defense lawyers aim to prove the innocence of the suspects. The defense lawyers try their best to help their clients be acquitted since their conviction has consequences like probations, fines, and even jail terms. At the same time, other criminals end up in jails in the United States, and immigrants may face deportation to serve their terms in their nations of origin (Das, 2018). This shows why it is important for the courts to exercise their constitutional duties competently to avoid wrongful rulings. The courts exist on different levels; the local, state, and federal courts. All cases have records (some in the public domain) of the case name, year of decision, the court that rendered the decision, the underlying facts of the case, the issues being decided, and the court’s description and explanation of its reasoning.
The United States Supreme Court is the highest federal court in the United States and the appellate court to all other federal courts and state courts in a case involving a conflict between federal law and state law. It also has jurisdiction over cases involving senior public servants like ambassadors, ministers, and ruling party members (Goldberg et al., 2019). The Supreme Court also has the power to reverse unconstitutional presidential directives. The main Supreme Court is located in Washington, DC, and it is in place following Article Three of the US Constitution. The first Congress established the Supreme through a judicial act, with the Chief Justice appointed by the president and eight other justice. Each justice has one vote when ruling over any matter before the court.
Among the cases brought before the United States Supreme Court in February 2023 involved a couple, Kate and David Bartenwerfer versus Kieran Buckley. The case is titled in the court’s records as Bartenwerfer VS Buckley. In 2005, Kate and David owned a house in San Francisco jointly. They decided to make some repairs to the house and remodel it so that they could sell it for a profit. David hired contractors and engineers who did the job, and when it was complete, they put up the house for sale. They should have told potential buyers the house had defects, although David and the engineers knew. Kate remained uninvolved in the whole process, though legally, it was assumed that she was aware since the house was registered to her name, too, as a joint property.
Kieran Buckley bought the property. He made all the necessary payments to completion, the paperwork was done, and the buyer and seller agreement was signed. When Buckley started using the property, he noticed there were defects he needed to be aware of before purchasing the property. The roof was leaking, and there was no fire emergency exit. Buckley sued Kate and David Bartenwerfer in California state court because they sold him property without disclosing all material facts. The California state court ruled in favor of Buckley, and Kate and David Bartenwerfer had to pay him $200,000 in damages. The couple claimed they could not pay their creditors, including Buckley. The constitution in Chapter Seven allows a party to file for bankruptcy (Fisher, 2019). During the proceedings on the bankruptcy case, Buckley filed a complaint under the grounds that the bankruptcy ruling could not be made in favor of the Bartenwerfers because there was an exception for such a case. The exception is that the bankruptcy ruling cannot favor a debtor if he obtained the money under false presentation of a product, false pretense, and actual fraud. The court investigated the matter and concluded that David made the sale under pretense. The investigation also tied the corruption to Kate since the ownership of the property was joint, and there was a legal partnership between them to renovate and sell the property.
The issue being decided by the Supreme Court was whether Kate had an obligation to pay the debt since she claimed that he was not aware of the fraudulent intent of David. The Bankruptcy Court had initially disagreed on whether Kate was also responsible for the fraud. Whether she was responsible for paying the debt to Buckley, but after more sessions, the court decided to discharge Kate from paying the debt because she was unaware of the fraudulent activity. However, the Supreme Court reversed the ruling and invoked the part that associates a fraudulent person’s partner as responsible for the fraud. In her defense, Kate disputes a plain text from where the bankruptcy court ruled regarding Kate and David’s bankruptcy. She claims that the phrase “money obtained by fraud and false presentation” is in passive voice form and does not in any way mean the fraud should be associated with the partner in a joint property ownership. She claims that any English speaker would understand that the text “money obtained by fraud…” is linked to the individual debtor who committed the fraud and not the whole partnership. The court disagrees with her claims that the statement in the passive voice does not hide both actors. The court further explains that Congress would not have separated parties in a legal partnership by using passive voice. The court also explains that the fraud would have been done by one party in the partnership, but both are culpable in the eyes of the law, as there is no way a legal partnership can be separated when ruling under the law. It further argues that under the law, the fraud liability is not limited just to the wrongdoer but to the legal partnership. In other words, the wrongdoer is the partnership as a whole.
The ruling on the case has fallen under the analysis of interested parties and has brought controversy on whether the court made a fair ruling on the case of Kate since it is clear that she was not involved in any fraud. Some argue that the ruling was just and that Kate was obligated to pay Buckley part of the damages. Others agree with the court’s ruling but on a different basis. They say there is no way Kate was not aware of the fraud since she was one of the main partners in the ownership of the property. They claim that more than one partner could have done such a significant renovation and sale of the property. Others disagree with the court’s ruling and emphasize that the court did not deliver justice to Kate. They fault the court for not recognizing the efforts made by the bankruptcy court in the investigation they carried out that determined that Kate was not part of the fraud. My personal views on the subject agree with the latter group.
In conclusion, the criminal justice system can be improved, and unnecessary appeals and unjust rulings can be eliminated. Congress and any other institution tasked with making and amending laws and making policy changes should have a wider scope of imagination of possible scenarios during the legislation process. In this way, every eventuality will have a precise application and interpretation of the law. The Congress should also review popular, controversial cases and seal the loopholes of uncertainty, and this can be achieved when the Congress and Judicial System work hand in hand.
Das, A. (2018). Inclusive Immigrant Justice: Racial Animus and the Origins of Crime-Based Deportation. UC Davis L. Rev., pp. 52, 171.
Fisher, J. D. (2019). Who files for personal bankruptcy in the United States? Journal of Consumer Affairs, 53(4), 2003-2026.
Goldberg, P. S., Appel, C. E., & Schwartz, V. E. (2019). The US Supreme Court’s Personal Jurisdiction Paradigm Shift to End Litigation Tourism. Duke J. Const. L. & Pub. Pol’y, 14, 51.
Siegel, L. J., & Worrall, J. L. (2018). Essentials of criminal justice. Cengage Learning.