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the branch of government responsible for the resolution of disputes arising under the laws of government. A court system is usually divided into various parts that specialize in hearing different types of cases. Trial courts receive evidence and make initial determinations of fact and law that may then be reviewed by appellate courts. Trial courts are usually divided into CIVIL COURTS, which hear disputes arising under the common law and civil statutes, CRIMINAL COURTS, which hear prosecutions under the criminal laws, MATRIMONIAL COURTS, which hear divorce proceedings, and SURROGATE'S COURTS, which hear proceedings regarding the estates of deceased and incompetent persons. Federal courts hear cases arising under federal laws. All states have a separate court system to decide cases arising under state laws.
See court of claims; court of equity; court of law; de facto [DE FACTO COURT]; district court; drug court; federal courts; inferior court; international court of justice; juvenile courts; kangaroo court; moot court; open court; probate [PROBATE COURT]; small claims court; supreme court; tax court; term of court; territorial court; trial court.
Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; ©
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