There are two judicial systems in the United States. Under the authority of the state's constitution, the state operates it's judicial system to handle most criminal and civil matters, personal injury, divorce, and other legal controversies.  Federal courts handle matters such as cases between two states or the citizens of two states, diplomatic personnel, or cases brought up by the United States. In state matters, if federal law is ever brought into question, state cases may be appealed to the US Supreme Court.


Consisting of the Chief Justice and six associate justices, the Supreme Court is the state's highest court. Usually, a panel of five justices hears each case, except for an extremely important case, whereas the court will sit "en banc", as a full court of seven.
In most cases, the Supreme Court does not review evidence or hear witness testimony. It decides cases on the record of lower courts,  by briefs (essential points of each party's case), and by verbal argument based on what was included in the briefs

Similar to the Supreme Court, the Appellate Court reviews the decisions of the Superior Court to ensure that no errors have been made. Out of a total of nine Appellate Court judges, one is designated to be Chief Judge. Most often, three judges hear cases and like the Supreme Court, base their decision on briefs, the record, and oral argument. No witnesses are heard.

The Superior Court handles all legal controversies except those concerning Probate, which are heard in Probate Court, although Probate cases can be appealed to the Superior Court. There are four major trial divisions in the Superior Court: civil, criminal, family, and housing. Click here for more info about these four divisions.

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