- United States Judicial system is not unified. On most cases states court of appeal is the highest
court of appeal. On some matters of the law US Supreme Court cannot hear cases and cannot
- US constitution is a federal document. So if the state law does not imply with the federal
constitution, in that case you can take that case to the US Supreme Court.
- In US criminal law is entirely a state matter. In that case the Highest state court of appeal will
have a final world
o Certain geographical territory on which the court cases will be binding. So the Ontario
courts are binding on Ontario. If Ontario court makes a rule those rules only apply to
o It can be Original Jurisdiction: Original jurisdiction means that you can be the first court
that can hear an argument.
o Appellate: This jurisdiction means that courts can hear jurisdiction from the courts
below them. So they can either agree with the ruling of the court lower than you or you
can give your own ruling. Section 92 courts can never have appellate jurisdiction.
Supreme Court is mainly an appellate court. There is some level of original jurisdiction
but mainly it is appellate jurisdiction; same goes for Court of appeal of Alberta. Amongst
the original jurisdiction for these courts is the reference case from the federal
- Differences between Canada and US Judicial Structures
o No mixed courts in the US where both levels of government have involvement in
administration/appointment (i.e. No equivalent of s. 96 courts in Canada).
o In the US, Federal courts, including the Supreme court, in the US only hear cases
involving federal law (state laws are only dealt with if they might violate IS constitution
or in a complex case involving state and federal law).
o Dual system in US (but some track jumping).
o In Canada, situation is more complex
Supreme court hears cases involving both provincial laws (i.e. Ontario Education
Act, Newfoundland Liquor Control Act) and federal laws (i.e. Criminal code,
Income Tax Act)
S.96 courts and s.92 courts hear cases involving both provincial and federal law
- S.92 Courts
o There are a lot of s.92 courts.
o They hear most criminal law
o They hear many family law issues up to the point of Divorce, at which s.96 courts get
- S.96 Courts
o Inherent jurisdiction: They can hear any legal dispute – private or public
o They have a broad jurisdiction unless things are taken away from them
o Divided into Trial division and Appellate division. (Page 53 in text)
o Trial Division (inherent jurisdiction) sometimes behave like an appellate division (only
hears appeals from the trial division). Trial division is the base division of s.96 courts.
Cases are heard for the first time in Trial Division.
o Small claims (i.e. where monetary value is less than 25,000) is heard by the s.96 courts
(Small claims division – it has deputy judge [a lawyer who is underpaid and part-time]) in
Ontario and by s.92 courts in some other provinces. If it is larger than 25,000 dollars
then it directly goes to trial division of s.96 courts.