The judiciary (also known as the judicial system, judicature, judicial branch or court system) is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in a country,state or an international community. The first legal systems of the world were set up to allow citizens to settle conflicts without violence.
A court is any person or institution with authority to judge or adjudicate, 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.
Law is a system of rules that are created and enforced through social or governmental institutions to regulate behavior. It has been defined both as "the Science of Justice" and "the Art of Justice". Law is a system that regulates and ensures that individuals or a community adhere to the will of the state. State-enforced laws can be made by a collective legislature or by a single legislator, resulting in statutes, by the executive through decrees and regulations, or established by judges through precedent, normally in common law jurisdictions. Private individuals can create legally binding contracts, including arbitration agreements that may elect to accept alternative arbitration to the normal court process. The formation of laws themselves may be influenced by a constitution, written or tacit, and the rights encoded therein. The law shapes politics, economics, history and society in various ways and serves as a mediator of relations between people.
The judiciary mainly interprets and applies the law, but can in some systems create law.
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets 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 law and applies it to the facts of each case. However, in some countries the judiciary does make common law.
The judiciary is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in a country,state or an international community. The first legal systems of the world were set up to allow citizens to settle conflicts without violence.
A state is a political organization with a centralized government that exerts authority within a certain geographical territory. There is not a single, undisputed, definition of what constitutes a state. A widely-used definition is a state being a polity that, within a given territory, maintains a monopoly on the use of force.
The separation of powers is a model for the governance of a state. Under this model, a state's government is divided into branches, each with separate and independent powers and areas of responsibility so that the powers of one branch are not in conflict with the powers associated with the other branches. The typical division is into three branches: a legislature, an executive, and a judiciary, which is the trias politica model. It can be contrasted with the fusion of powers in some parliamentary systems where the executive and legislative branches overlap.
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 de facto in common law countries creating the body of constitutional law. For a people to establish and keep the 'Rule of Law' as the operative norm in social constructs great care must be taken in the election or appointment of unbiased and thoughtful legal scholars whose loyalty to an oath of office is without reproach. If law is to govern and find acceptance generally courts must exercise fidelity to justice which means affording those subject to its jurisdictional scope the greatest presumption of inherent cultural relevance within this framework.
Jurisdiction is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice within a defined field of responsibility, e.g., Michigan tax law. In federations like the United States, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels; e.g. the court has jurisdiction to apply federal law.
Judicial review is a process under which executive or legislative actions are subject to review by the judiciary. A court with authority for judicial review may invalidate laws, acts and governmental actions that are incompatible with a higher authority: an executive decision may be invalidated for being unlawful or a statute may be invalidated for violating the terms of a constitution. Judicial review is one of the checks and balances in the separation of powers: the power of the judiciary to supervise the legislative and executive branches when the latter exceed their authority. The doctrine varies between jurisdictions, so the procedure and scope of judicial review may differ between and within countries.
In parliamentary systems and presidential systems of government, primary legislation and secondary legislation, the latter also called delegated legislation or subordinate legislation, are two forms of law, created respectively by the legislative and executive branches of government. Primary legislation generally consists of statutes, also known as 'acts', that set out broad outlines and principles, but delegate specific authority to an executive branch to make more specific laws under the aegis of the principal act. The executive branch can then issue secondary legislation, creating legally-enforceable regulations and the procedures for implementing them.
The term "judiciary" is also used to refer collectively to the personnel, such as judges, magistrates and other adjudicators, who form the core of a judiciary (sometimes referred to as a "bench"), as well as the staffs who keep the system running smoothly. In some countries and jurisdictions, the judicial branch is expanded to include additional public legal professionals and institutions such as prosecutors, state lawyers, ombudsmen, public notaries, judicial police service and legal aid officers. These institutions are sometimes governed by the same judicial administration that governs courts, and in some cases the administration of the judicial branch is also the administering authority for private legal professions such as lawyers and private "notary" offices.
A judge is a person who presides over court proceedings, either alone or as a part of a panel of judges. The powers, functions, method of appointment, discipline, and training of judges vary widely across different jurisdictions. The judge is supposed to conduct the trial impartially and, typically, in an open court. The judge hears all the witnesses and any other evidence presented by the barristers of the case, assesses the credibility and arguments of the parties, and then issues a ruling on the matter at hand based on his or her interpretation of the law and his or her own personal judgment. In some jurisdictions, the judge's powers may be shared with a jury. In inquisitorial systems of criminal investigation, a judge might also be an examining magistrate.
The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both judicial and executive powers. In other parts of the world, such as China, a magistrate was responsible for administration over a particular geographic area. Today, in some jurisdictions, a magistrate is a judicial officer who hears cases in a lower court, and typically deals with more minor or preliminary matters. In other jurisdictions, magistrates may be volunteers without formal legal training who perform a judicial role with regard to minor matters.
Bench in legal contexts means simply the location in a courtroom where a judge sits. The historical roots of that meaning come from judges formerly having sat on long seats or benches when presiding over a court. The bench is usually an elevated desk area that allows a judge to view the entire courtroom.
See also Legal History.
This is a more general overview of the development of the judiciary and judicial systems over the course of history.
See also Roman law and Byzantine Law.
When Rome first started to exist, law was given by the gods. 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. 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 . 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 .
The mos maiorum is the unwritten code from which the ancient Romans derived their social norms. It is the core concept of Roman traditionalism, distinguished from but in dynamic complement to written law. The mos maiorum was collectively the time-honoured principles, behavioural models, and social practices that affected private, political, and military life in ancient Rome.
The Law of the Twelve Tables was the legislation that stood at the foundation of Roman law. The Tables consolidated earlier traditions into an enduring set of laws.
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.
Praetor was a title granted by the government of Ancient Rome to men acting in one of two official capacities: the commander of an army ; or, an elected magistratus (magistrate), assigned various duties. The functions of the magistracy, the praetura (praetorship), are described by the adjective: the praetoria potestas, the praetorium imperium, and the praetorium ius, the legal precedents established by the praetores (praetors). Praetorium, as a substantive, denoted the location from which the praetor exercised his authority, either the headquarters of his castra, the courthouse (tribunal) of his judiciary, or the city hall of his provincial governorship.
The Praetor's Edict(Edictum praetoris) in ancient Roman law was an annual declaration of principles made by the new Praetor urbanus – the elected magistrate charged with administering justice within the city of Rome. During the early Empire the Praetor's Edict was revised to become the Edictum perpetuum.
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"). 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 representant 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.
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 Civilus. 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 Civilus consisted of four parts:
See also Church Law
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. 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 .
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.
The rediscovery of the Digesta from the Corpus Iuris Civilis led the university of Bologna to start teaching Roman law. 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:
Accursius wrote the Glossa Ordinaria in 1263, ending the early scholastics.
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.
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 (May 19) 1918, when a revised Code of Canon Law (Codex Iuris Canonici) promulgated by Pope Benedict XV on 27 May 1917 obtained legal force.
The Decretalists, like the post-glossators for Ius Civile, started to write treatises, comments and advises with the texts.
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. 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 .
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.
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.
In civil law jurisdictions, courts interpret the law, but are prohibited from creating law, and thus do not issue rulings more general than the actual case to be judged. In other words, they do not set precedent. Jurisprudence does not necessarily play a similar role to case law. Courts can decide if they follow jurisprudence in a given case or not.
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,may have different names and organization; trial courts may be called "courts of common plea", appellate courts "superior courts" or "commonwealth courts". 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.
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.
Japan's process for selecting judges is longer and more stringent than in various countries, like the United States and in Mexico.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.
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 21 magistrates 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.
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 a 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 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.
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.
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 three 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.
Marbury v. Madison, 5 U.S. 137 (1803), was a U.S. Supreme Court case that established the principle of judicial review in the United States, meaning that American courts have the power to strike down laws, statutes, and some government actions that contravene the U.S. Constitution. Decided in 1803, Marbury remains the single most important decision in American constitutional law. The Court's landmark decision established that the U.S. Constitution is actual "law", not just a statement of political principles and ideals, and helped define the boundary between the constitutionally separate executive and judicial branches of the American form of government.
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.
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.
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.
The Judiciary of Russia interprets and applies the law of Russia. It is defined under the Constitution and law with a hierarchical structure with the Constitutional Court, Supreme Court, and Supreme Court of Arbitration at the apex. The district courts are the primary criminal trial courts, and the regional courts are the primary appellate courts. The judiciary is governed by the All-Russian Congress of Judges and its Council of Judges, and its management is aided by the Judicial Department of the Supreme Court, the Judicial Qualification Collegia, the Ministry of Justice, and the various courts' chairpersons. And although there are many officers of the court, including jurors, the Prosecutor General remains the most powerful component of the Russian judicial system.
Judicial activism refers to judicial rulings that are suspected of being based on personal opinion, rather than on existing law. It is sometimes used as an antonym of judicial restraint. 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 constitutional interpretation, statutory construction, and separation of powers.
The full Judicial power in Singapore is vested in the Supreme Court as well as subordinate courts by the Constitution of Singapore. The Supreme Court consists of the Court of Appeal and the High Court. The Court of Appeal exercises appellate criminal and civil jurisdiction, while the High Court exercises both original and appellate criminal and civil jurisdiction. The Chief Justice, Judges of Appeal, Judicial Commissioners and High Court Judges are appointed by the President from candidates recommended by the Prime Minister. The prime minister must consult with the Chief Justice before recommending the judges. The current Chief Justice is Sundaresh Menon.
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.”
A lay judge is a person assisting a judge in a trial and as such are sometimes called lay assessors. Lay judges are used in some civil law jurisdictions. Japan began implementing a new lay judge system in 2009. Lay judges are appointed volunteers and often require some legal instruction. However, they are not permanent officers, as they tend proceedings about once a month, and often receive only nominal or "costs covered" pay. Lay judges are usually used when the country does not have juries. Lay judges may be randomly selected for a single trial, or politically appointed. In the latter case, they may usually not be rejected by the prosecution, the defense, or the permanent judges. Lay judges are similar to magistrates of England and Wales, but magistrates sit about twice more often.
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.
The Supreme Court of the Republic of Albania is the highest court of Albania and is the final court of appeal in the judicial system of Albania. 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, the 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. Some exceptions are, for example, common law countries of the English-speaking world
Scots law is the legal system of Scotland. It is a hybrid or mixed legal system containing civil law and common law elements, that traces its roots to a number of different historical sources. Together with English law and Northern Irish law, it is one of the three legal systems of the United Kingdom.
The judiciary of Saudi Arabia is a branch of the government of Saudi Arabia that interprets and applies the laws of Saudi Arabia. The legal system is based on the Islamic code of Sharia, with its judges and lawyers forming part of the country's religious leadership or ulama. There are also non-Sharia government tribunals which handle disputes relating to specific royal decrees. Final appeal from both Sharia courts and government tribunals is to the King of Saudi Arabia and all courts and tribunals follow Sharia rules of evidence and procedure.
Randall Christoph Herman Lesaffer is a Belgian historian of international law. He has been professor of legal history at Tilburg University since 1999, where he also served as dean of Tilburg Law School from 2008 to 2012. His work focuses on the Early Modern Age.
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