The State Judicial Branch

The state judiciary is responsible for interpreting and applying state laws and the state constitution and for resolving legal disputes. The powers of a state judiciary generally include the authority to:

  • Hear and decide cases involving state laws and the state constitution
  • Review the constitutionality of state laws and actions by state officials
  • Issue decisions and opinions that interpret state laws and set legal precedents
  • Supervise and discipline state court personnel and attorneys
  • Administer the state court system, including setting rules and procedures for court operations
  • Impose penalties and sentences in criminal cases, and award damages in civil cases
  • Issue writs, such as habeas corpus, to protect individual rights
  • Decide on appeals from lower courts
  • In some states, the state supreme court may also have the power to interpret the state’s constitution and even overrule the state legislature or Governor.

It should be noted that the structure of state judiciary also varies from state to state; some states have a unified court system, while others have separate courts for different types of cases.