When you are done with this section, take the Judicial Branch Quiz.
The judicial branch interprets the laws of our land or makes sure that they are in line with the Constitution. If a situation or law does not agree with the Constitution it is said to be unconstitutional.
At the national level, the Supreme Court is the top court in the land. There are also many federal courts in the states that deal with the federal laws.
There are two kinds of cases that the courts hear – criminal and civil cases. Civil cases have to do with people’s rights being violated. Criminal cases have to do with crimes that have been committed.
Most cases are heard before a jury. The jury is a group of 12 citizens who listen to evidence and arguments presented by the prosecution and defense in a case. The jury then decides the verdict or decision if the accused are guilty or innocent.
The state also has courts. The highest court in the state of New York is the Court of Appeals.
There are local courts as well. These are in the city, county and town level.
Judicial Branch Links