state court

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A state court is a court that has general jurisdiction within the specific state’s territory. State courts are the final arbiters of the state’s constitution and statutes.

The constitution and laws of the state establish the structure of state courts. Commonly, the highest court within a state is the Supreme Court (e.g., Supreme Court of California), and its decisions are binding on all other state courts. Some states have an intermediate Court of Appeals division. Below them are the state trial courts, referred to as Circuit or District Courts. Additionally, states have courts that only address specific legal matters (e.g., family court). A party dissatisfied with the decision of a trial court may appeal the decision before the corresponding state’s appellate court.

Federal courts and the Supreme Court of the United States interpret federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

[Last updated in August of 2021 by the Wex Definitions Team]