State Supreme Court

State Supreme Court in the United States

The court of last resort in state judicial systems. Almost every state calls this court the supreme court although several have other names such as the supreme court of appeals. Regardless of name, this court functions as the final appellate authority within the state system. It differs from the United States Supreme Court (Judicial Organization) in that many state supreme court judges are elected rather than appointed. There is some variation in the structure and jurisdiction of state supreme courts. They range in size from five to nine justices, and, like the U.S. Supreme Court, they generally sit en banc rather than in panels. The appellate jurisdiction of state supreme courts depends substantially on whether the system contains an intermediate appellate court. Where an intermediate court exists, the supreme court typically possesses extensive discretion over the cases it reviews. This discretionary jurisdiction allows state supreme courts essentially to control substantive law questions on their dockets. If the system does not have an intermediate court, the state supreme court provides the first level appellate function and is often required to review at least certain categories of cases.

See Also

Discretionary Jurisdiction (Judicial Organization) Intermediate Appellate Court (Judicial Organization) United States Supreme Court (Judicial Organization) (Judicial Organization).

Analysis and Relevance

State supreme courts have jurisdiction in all matters of state law and act as the final authority on matters involving the interpretation of the state constitution or state statutes. Accordingly, each functions to clarify state law through pronouncement of procedural and substantive principles. Such authority gives state supreme courts an extensive policy making role. In addition, state courts of last resort engage in the review of lower court actions and will, where necessary, correct errors made by inferior courts. Finally, state supreme courts typically have administrative responsibilities over the state judicial system as a whole. This includes basic management of budgetary matters and caseloads. State supreme courts also have authority to issue court rules that govern the operation of state courts, a role that commonly involves oversight of judicial discipline as well.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of State Supreme Court from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

State Supreme Court: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about State Supreme Court. This part provides references, in relation to State Supreme Court, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about State Supreme Court by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about State Supreme Court and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about State Supreme Court or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to State Supreme Court and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting State Supreme Court. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about State Supreme Court should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to State Supreme Court when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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