Judiciary

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The Commonwealth Law Courts Building in Melbourne, the location of the Melbourne branches of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia, as well as occasional High Court of Australia sittings Melbourne Federal Court.JPG
The Commonwealth Law Courts Building in Melbourne, the location of the Melbourne branches of the Federal Circuit Court of Australia, the Federal Court of Australia, the Family Court of Australia, as well as occasional High Court of Australia sittings

The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch, judiciative branch, and court or judiciary system) is the system of courts that adjudicates legal disputes/disagreements and interprets, defends, and applies the law in legal cases.

Contents

Definition

The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets, defends, and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary can also be thought of as the mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make statutory law (which is the responsibility of the legislature) or enforce law (which is the responsibility of the executive), but rather interprets, defends, and applies the law to the facts of each case. However, in some countries the judiciary does make common law.

In many jurisdictions the judicial branch has the power to change laws through the process of judicial review. Courts with judicial review power may annul the laws and rules of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher norm, such as primary legislation, the provisions of the constitution, treaties or international law. Judges constitute a critical force for interpretation and implementation of a constitution, thus in common law countries creating the body of constitutional law.

History

This is a more general overview of the development of the judiciary and judicial systems over the course of history.

Roman judiciary

Archaic Roman Law (650–264 BC)

The most important part was Ius Civile (Latin for "civil law"). This consisted of Mos Maiorum (Latin for "way of the ancestors") and Leges (Latin for "laws"). Mos Maiorum was the rules of conduct based on social norms created over the years by predecessors. In 451–449 BC, the Mos Maiorum was written down in the Twelve Tables. [1] [2] [3] Leges were rules set by the leaders, first the kings, later the popular assembly during the Republic. In these early years, the legal process consisted of two phases. The first phase, In Iure, was the judicial process. One would go to the head of the judicial system (at first the priests as law was part of religion) who would look at the applicable rules to the case. Parties in the case could be assisted by jurists. [4] Then the second phase would start, the Apud Iudicem. The case would be put before the judges, which were normal Roman citizens in an uneven number. No experience was required as the applicable rules were already selected. They would merely have to judge the case. [5]

Pre-classical Roman Law (264–27 BC)

The most important change in this period was the shift from priest to praetor as the head of the judicial system. The praetor would also make an edict in which he would declare new laws or principles for the year he was elected. This edict is also known as praetorian law. [6] [7]

Principate (27 BC–284 AD)

The Principate is the first part of the Roman Empire, which started with the reign of Augustus. This time period is also known as the "classical era of Roman Law" In this era, the praetor's edict was now known as edictum perpetuum, which were all the edicts collected in one edict by Hadrian. Also, a new judicial process came up: cognitio extraordinaria (Latin for "extraordinary process"). [8] [9] This came into being due to the largess of the empire. This process only had one phase, where the case was presented to a professional judge who was a representative of the emperor. Appeal was possible to the immediate superior.

During this time period, legal experts started to come up. They studied the law and were advisors to the emperor. They also were allowed to give legal advise on behalf of the emperor. [10]

Corpus Iuris Civilis, 1607 Corpus iuris ciuilis lugdvni 1607.jpg
Corpus Iuris Civilis, 1607

Dominate (284–565 AD)

This era is also known as the "post-classical era of Roman law". The most important legal event during this era was the Codification by Justinianus: the Corpus Iuris Civilis. [11] This contained all Roman Law. It was both a collection of the work of the legal experts and commentary on it, and a collection of new laws. The Corpus Iuris Civilis consisted of four parts:

  1. Institutiones: This was an introduction and a summary of Roman law.
  2. Digesta/Pandectae: This was the collection of the edicts.
  3. Codex: This contained all the laws of the emperors.
  4. Novellae: This contained all new laws created.

Middle Ages

During the late Middle Ages, education started to grow. First education was limited to the monasteries and abbies, but expanded to cathedrals and schools in the city in the 11th century, eventually creating universities. [12] The universities had five faculties: arts, medicine, theology, canon law and Ius Civile, or civil law. Canon law, or ecclesiastical law are laws created by the Pope, head of the Roman Catholic Church. The last form was also called secular law, or Roman law. It was mainly based on the Corpus Iuris Civilis, which had been rediscovered in 1070. Roman law was mainly used for "worldly" affairs, while canon law was used for questions related to the church. [13]

The period starting in the 11th century with the discovery of the Corpus Iuris Civilis is also called the Scholastics, which can be divided in the early and late scholastics. It is characterised with the renewed interest in the old texts.

Ius Civile

Early scholastics (1070–1263)

The rediscovery of the Digesta from the Corpus Iuris Civilis led the university of Bologna to start teaching Roman law. [14] Professors at the university were asked to research the Roman laws and advise the Emperor and the Pope with regards to the old laws. This led to the Glossators to start translating and recreating the Corpus Iuris Civilis and create literature around it:

  • Glossae: translations of the old Roman laws
  • Summae: summaries
  • Brocardica: short sentences that made the old laws easier to remember, a sort of mnemonic
  • Quaestio Disputata (sic et non): a dialectic method of seeking the argument and refute it. [15]

Accursius wrote the Glossa Ordinaria in 1263, ending the early scholastics. [16]

Late scholastics (1263–1453)

The successors of the Glossators were the Post-Glossators or Commentators. They looked at a subject in a logical and systematic way by writing comments with the texts, treatises and consilia, which are advises given according to the old Roman law. [17] [18]

Canon Law

Gratian Graciano.jpg
Gratian
Early Scholastics (1070–1234)

Canon law knows a few forms of laws: the canones, decisions made by Councils, and the decreta, decisions made by the Popes. The monk Gratian, one of the well-known decretists, started to organise all of the church law, which is now known as the Decretum Gratiani , or simply as Decretum. It forms the first part of the collection of six legal texts, which together became known as the Corpus Juris Canonici . It was used by canonists of the Roman Catholic Church until Pentecost (19 May) 1918, when a revised Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) promulgated by Pope Benedict XV on 27 May 1917 obtained legal force. [19] [20] [21]

Late Scholastics (1234–1453)

The Decretalists, like the post-glossators for Ius Civile, started to write treatises, comments and advises with the texts. [22] [23]

Ius Commune

Around the 15th century, a process of reception and acculturation started with both laws. The final product was known as Ius Commune . It was a combination of canon law, which represented the common norms and principles, and Roman law, which were the actual rules and terms. It meant the creation of more legal texts and books and a more systematic way of going through the legal process. [24] In the new legal process, appeal was possible. The process would be partially inquisitorial, where the judge would actively investigate all the evidence before him, but also partially adversarial, where both parties are responsible for finding the evidence to convince the judge. [25]

Lady Justice (Latin: Justicia), symbol of the judiciary. Statue at Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee JMR-Memphis1.jpg
Lady Justice (Latin: Justicia), symbol of the judiciary. Statue at Shelby County Courthouse, Memphis, Tennessee

After the French Revolution, lawmakers stopped interpretation of law by judges, and the legislature was the only body permitted to interpret the law; this prohibition was later overturned by the Napoleonic Code. [28]

Functions of the judiciary in different law systems

In common law jurisdictions, courts interpret law; this includes constitutions, statutes, and regulations. They also make law (but in a limited sense, limited to the facts of particular cases) based upon prior case law in areas where the legislature has not made law. For instance, the tort of negligence is not derived from statute law in most common law jurisdictions. The term common law refers to this kind of law. Common law decisions set precedent for all courts to follow. This is sometimes called stare decisis.

Country-specific functions

In the United States court system, the Supreme Court is the final authority on the interpretation of the federal Constitution and all statutes and regulations created pursuant to it, as well as the constitutionality of the various state laws; in the US federal court system, federal cases are tried in trial courts, known as the US district courts, followed by appellate courts and then the Supreme Court. State courts, which try 98% of litigation, [29] may have different names and organization; trial courts may be called "courts of common plea", appellate courts "superior courts" or "commonwealth courts". [30] The judicial system, whether state or federal, begins with a court of first instance, is appealed to an appellate court, and then ends at the court of last resort. [31]

In France, the final authority on the interpretation of the law is the Council of State for administrative cases, and the Court of Cassation for civil and criminal cases.

In the People's Republic of China, the final authority on the interpretation of the law is the National People's Congress.

Other countries such as Argentina have mixed systems that include lower courts, appeals courts, a cassation court (for criminal law) and a Supreme Court. In this system the Supreme Court is always the final authority, but criminal cases have four stages, one more than civil law does. On the court sits a total of nine justices. This number has been changed several times.

Judicial systems by country

Japan

Japan's process for selecting judges is longer and more stringent than in various countries, like the United States and in Mexico. [32] Assistant judges are appointed from those who have completed their training at the Legal Training and Research Institute located in Wako. Once appointed, assistant judges still may not qualify to sit alone until they have served for five years, and have been appointed by the Supreme Court of Japan. Judges require ten years of experience in practical affairs, as a public prosecutor or practicing attorney. In the Japanese judicial branch there is the Supreme Court, eight high courts, fifty district courts, fifty family courts, and 438 summary courts. [33] [34]

Mexico

Justices of the Mexican Supreme Court are appointed by the President of Mexico, and then are approved by the Mexican Senate to serve for a life term. Other justices are appointed by the Supreme Court and serve for six years. Federal courts consist of the 11 ministers of the Supreme Court, 32 circuit tribunals and 98 district courts. The Supreme Court of Mexico is located in Mexico City. Supreme Court Judges must be of ages 35 to 65 and hold a law degree during the five years preceding their nomination. [35]

United States

United States Supreme Court justices are appointed by the President of the United States and approved by the United States Senate. The Supreme Court justices serve for life term or until retirement. The Supreme Court is located in Washington, D.C. The United States federal court system consists of 94 federal judicial districts. The 94 districts are then divided up into twelve regional circuits. The United States has five different types of courts that are considered subordinate to the Supreme Court: United States bankruptcy courts, United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, United States Court of International Trade, United States courts of appeals, and United States district courts. [36] [37]

Immigration courts are not part of the judicial branch; immigration judges are employees of the Executive Office for Immigration Review, part of the United States Department of Justice in the executive branch.

Each state, district and inhabited territory also has its own court system operating within the legal framework of the respective jurisdiction, responsible for hearing cases regarding state and territorial law. All these jurisdictions also have their own supreme courts (or equivalent) which serve as the highest courts of law within their respective jurisdictions.

See also

Related Research Articles

Canon law is a set of ordinances and regulations made by ecclesiastical authority for the government of a Christian organization or church and its members. It is the internal ecclesiastical law, or operational policy, governing the Catholic Church, the Eastern Orthodox and Oriental Orthodox churches, and the individual national churches within the Anglican Communion. The way that such church law is legislated, interpreted and at times adjudicated varies widely among these four bodies of churches. In all three traditions, a canon was originally a rule adopted by a church council; these canons formed the foundation of canon law.

Roman law Legal system of Ancient Rome (c. 449 BC – AD 529)

Roman law is the legal system of ancient Rome, including the legal developments spanning over a thousand years of jurisprudence, from the Twelve Tables, to the Corpus Juris Civilis ordered by Eastern Roman emperor Justinian I. Roman law forms the basic framework for civil law, the most widely used legal system today, and the terms are sometimes used synonymously. The historical importance of Roman law is reflected by the continued use of Latin legal terminology in many legal systems influenced by it, including common law.

<i>Corpus Juris Civilis</i> Collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence as codified by Justinian

The Corpus JurisCivilis is the modern name for a collection of fundamental works in jurisprudence, issued from 529 to 534 by order of Justinian I, Byzantine Emperor. It is also sometimes referred to metonymically after one of its parts, the Code of Justinian.

Judicial independence is the concept that the judiciary should be independent from the other branches of government. That is, courts should not be subject to improper influence from the other branches of government or from private or partisan interests. Judicial independence is important to the idea of separation of powers.

Court Judicial institution with authority to resolve legal disputes

A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes between parties and carry out the administration of justice in civil, criminal, and administrative matters in accordance with the rule of law. In both common law and civil law legal systems, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all people have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, the rights of those accused of a crime include the right to present a defense before a court.

Legal history or the history of law is the study of how law has evolved and why it has changed. Legal history is closely connected to the development of civilisations and operates in the wider context of social history. Certain jurists and historians of legal process have seen legal history as the recording of the evolution of laws and the technical explanation of how these laws have evolved with the view of better understanding the origins of various legal concepts; some consider legal history a branch of intellectual history. Twentieth-century historians viewed legal history in a more contextualised manner - more in line with the thinking of social historians. They have looked at legal institutions as complex systems of rules, players and symbols and have seen these elements interact with society to change, adapt, resist or promote certain aspects of civil society. Such legal historians have tended to analyse case histories from the parameters of social-science inquiry, using statistical methods, analysing class distinctions among litigants, petitioners and other players in various legal processes. By analyzing case outcomes, transaction costs, and numbers of settled cases, they have begun an analysis of legal institutions, practices, procedures and briefs that gives a more complex picture of law and society than the study of jurisprudence, case law and civil codes can achieve.

Jus commune or ius commune is Latin for "common law" in certain jurisdictions. It is often used by civil law jurists to refer to those aspects of the civil law system's invariant legal principles, sometimes called "the law of the land" in English law. While the ius commune was a secure point of reference in continental European legal systems, in England it was not a point of reference at all. The phrase "the common law of the civil law systems" means those underlying laws that create a distinct legal system and are common to all its elements.

The judiciary of Germany is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in Germany.

History of the judicial system of Iran Historical aspect of Iranian law

A nationwide judicial system in Iran was first implemented and established by Abdolhossein Teymourtash under Reza Shah, with further changes during the second Pahlavi era.

The judicial system of Ukraine is outlined in the 1996 Constitution of Ukraine. Before this there was no notion of judicial review nor any Supreme court since 1991's Ukrainian independence. when it started being slowly restructured.

Judicial activism is a judicial philosophy holding that the courts can and should go beyond the applicable law to consider broader societal implications of its decisions. It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint. The term usually implies that judges make rulings based on their own views rather than on precedent. The definition of judicial activism and the specific decisions that are activist are controversial political issues. The question of judicial activism is closely related to judicial interpretation, statutory interpretation, and separation of powers.

The law of Germany, that being the modern German legal system, is a system of civil law which is founded on the principles laid out by the Basic Law for the Federal Republic of Germany, though many of the most important laws, for example most regulations of the civil code were developed prior to the 1949 constitution. It is composed of public law, which regulates the relations between a citizen/person and the state or two bodies of the state, and the private law, (Privatrecht) which regulates the relations between two people or companies. It has been subject to a wide array of influences from Roman law, such as the Corpus Juris Civilis, to Napoleonic law, such as the Napoleonic Code.

The canon law of the Catholic Church is "how the Church organizes and governs herself". It is the system of laws and ecclesiastical legal principles made and enforced by the hierarchical authorities of the Catholic Church to regulate its external organization and government and to order and direct the activities of Catholics toward the mission of the Church. It was the first modern Western legal system and is the oldest continuously functioning legal system in the West, while the unique traditions of Eastern Catholic canon law govern the 23 Eastern Catholic particular churches sui iuris.

Supreme Court of Russia National supreme court

The Supreme Court of the Russian Federation is a court within the judiciary of Russia and the court of last resort in Russian administrative law, civil law and criminal law cases. It also supervises the work of lower courts. Its predecessor is the Supreme Court of the Soviet Union.

Legal cultures are described as being temporary outcomes of interactions and occur pursuant to a challenge and response paradigm. Analyses of core legal paradigms shape the characteristics of individual and distinctive legal cultures. "Comparative legal cultures are examined by a field of scholarship, which is situated at the line bordering comparative law and historical jurisprudence."

Judicial independence in Singapore Judicial independence in the nation

Judicial independence is protected by Singapore's Constitution, statutes such as the State Courts Act and Supreme Court of Judicature Act, and the common law. Independence of the judiciary is the principle that the judiciary should be separated from legislative and executive power, and shielded from inappropriate pressure from these branches of government, and from private or partisan interests. It is crucial as it serves as a foundation for the rule of law and democracy.

Supreme Court of Albania Highest court in Albanias judicial system

The Supreme Court of the Republic of Albania is the highest court of Albania and is the final court of appeals in the country's judicial system. It is composed of seventeen judges: the Chief Justice and sixteen Members.

Medieval Roman law is the continuation and development of ancient Roman law that developed in the European Late Middle Ages. Based on the ancient text of Roman law, Corpus iuris civilis, it added many new concepts, and formed the basis of the later civil law systems that prevail in the vast majority of countries.

Lex animata is a Latin term for the law being embodied in a living entity, usually the sovereign by the grace of God. In that sense a king could be lex animata, a living, breathing law. The equivalent Greek term, used in the Byzantine Empire, is νόμος ἔμψυχος, nómos émpsychos.

The judiciary of Somaliland is the judicial branch of the Somaliland government.

References

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Further reading