Basic Structure of the California Courts

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The Basic Structure of the California Courts
DeVry University

The Basic Structure of the California Courts
In the United States there are two separate judicial systems, the state and federal. According to USCourts.gov, every “state has its own system with most having specific courts such as juvenile court, probate court, family court, and others that oversee specific legal issues.” (Judicial Council of California, 2012). Where Federal court deals with constitutional law, or in cases between two or more states, California state court deals with criminal, contractual, and family related cases. California’s courts are an independent branch of the California government. The California State Court enforces laws, resolves disputes, and protects individual rights. The court system is also responsible for interpreting laws passed by our legislative and executive branches. Some laws are entirely made by the courts, known as common law, and evolve on a case-by-case basis. To help the courts determine the outcome of any case they have many resources available to them: the constitution (both U.S. and California), statutes, regulations, and prior decisions made by them or higher courts (precedent). Similar to the federal government, the California state government is divided into three separate branches; the legislative, executive, and judicial branches. The legislative branch is the one that enacts the laws; the executive branch is in control of seeing the laws are carried out; and finally the judicial branch where the state settles disputes and interprets the laws. Adopted in 1849, Article VI of the California Constitution states that the “judicial power is vested in the Supreme Court, Courts of Appeal, and Superior Courts, all if which are courts of record.” (California Secretary of State, 1849). There are approximately three levels to the California state court system: Superior Courts, Courts of Appeal, and the Supreme Court. In addition to these three...
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