State Court System Law and Legal Definition

In the United States of America, there are two separate and distinct types of judicial system: the Federal court system and the state court systems. The state courts enforce the laws, rules and regulations of a given State and applies and interprets the State's own Constitution. These two judicial systems exist side-by-side.

Each state has a court system that is separate from the federal courts. State court systems have trial courts at the bottom level and appellate courts at the top. Over 95% of the nation's legal cases are decided in state courts (or local courts, which are agents of the states). Some states have two appellate levels (Intermediate court of appeals and state’s Supreme Court) and others have only a single appellate court. The State’s Supreme Court is the highest court of appeal of a particular state. Cases that originate in state courts can be appealed to a federal court if a federal issue is involved and usually only after all avenues of appeal in the state courts have been exhausted.

States vary in the way they organize and name their courts, but they usually give some lower courts specialized titles and jurisdictions. States have special courts for divorce, juvenile, and estate matters. Below these specialized trial courts are more informal trial courts, such as magistrate courts and justice of the peace courts, which hear minor matters such as traffic cases.