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Legal Dictionary

judiciary

Legal Definition of judiciary

Noun

  1. A system of courts of law
  2. Judges of a State collectively
  3. A branch of government in which judicial power is vested.

Definition of judiciary

Pronunciation

  • (RP) IPA: /ˌd'uːˈdɪʃəri/
  • (GenAm) IPA: /ˌd'uːˈdɪʃɪəri/

Noun

judiciary (plural judiciaries)

  1. The court system and judges considered collectively, the judicial branch of government.

Further reading

The judiciary (also known as the judicial system or judicature) is the system of courts that interprets and applies the law in the name of the state. The judiciary also provides a mechanism for the resolution of disputes. Under the doctrine of the separation of powers, the judiciary generally does not make law (that is, in a plenary fashion, 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. This branch of the state is often tasked with ensuring equal justice under law. It usually consists of a court of final appeal (called the "supreme court" or "constitutional court"), together with lower courts.

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 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.

During last decades the judiciary became active in economic issues related with economic rights established by constitution because "economics may provide insight into questions that bear on the proper legal interpretation". Since many a country with a transitional political and economic system continues treating its constitution as an abstract legal document disengaged from the economic policy of the state, practice of judicial review of economic acts of executive and legislative branches began to grow.

In the 1980s, the Supreme Court of India for almost a decade had been encouraging public interest litigation on behalf of the poor and oppressed by using a very broad interpretation of several articles of the Indian Constitution.

Budget of the judiciary in many transitional and developing countries is almost completely controlled by the executive. The latter undermines the separation of powers, as it creates a critical financial dependence of the judiciary. The proper national wealth distribution including the government spending on the judiciary is subject of the constitutional economics. It is important to distinguish between the two methods of corruption of the judiciary: the state (through budget planning and various privileges), and the private.

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.

Various functions

  • In common or provinces, courts interpret law, including 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.
  • In civil law jurisdictions, courts interpret the law, but are, at least in theory, prohibited from creating law, and thus, still in theory, do not issue rulings more general than the actual case to be judged. In practice, jurisprudence plays the same role as case law.
  • In socialist law, the primary responsibility for interpreting the law belongs to the legislature.

This difference can be seen by comparing United States, France and the People's Republic of China:

  • 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 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.on the court a total of nine judges sit on the court. This number has been changed several times. Also reminded that federal laws are consisted of the powers that the judicial branch has. This is always been some limits in Congress that the Judicial Branch has.

References:

  1. Wiktionary. Published under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share-Alike License.



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