Skip to ContentGo to accessibility pageKeyboard shortcuts menu
OpenStax Logo

a higher court’s review of a lower court’s decision to determine if an error of law caused the rendition of an improper judgment by the lower court
the initial court hearing in which an arrested individual is informed of the specific criminal charges against them, bail is set, and the individual is appointed an attorney if they have not already secured one
authoritarian-populist judiciary
a system that has transitioned from a rule-of-law system to a rule-by-law authoritarian subsystem through changes instituted by one ruling person or political party
court-determined conditions that must be met for an arrested individual to be released from jail, designed to ensure that the individual will appear for all hearings and the trial in a criminal case; may include fines or restrictions on activity
capital punishment
the imposition of the death penalty on persons convicted of specific crimes
civil law
a system of laws concerned with the peaceful resolution of disputes between individuals rather than with criminal conduct
civil law system
a legal system that relies heavily on codes of statutes, in which the judicial process is mainly investigatory rather than adversarial
common law system
a legal system that relies on precedent, in which the judicial process is adversarial
court case
a specific dispute about a law brought before a court; for a court to act, parties with standing who allege specific issues based on written laws must file a case
criminal law
a system of laws establishing minimum conduct of the individual and permitting the government to punish any person who violates such laws
customary law system
a legal system based on long-standing traditions in a particular community
due process
a legal requirement that the government respect the rights of the accused and take procedural steps to create a fair system of government action against the accused
the materials or statements a court can consider as the proof necessary for any alleged matter in a case
executive sovereignty system
a system in which the actions of a parliament or the executive cannot be reviewed for their constitutionality
serious crimes that carry more severe sentences than misdemeanor crimes
grand jury
a body of citizens that reviews evidence to determine if there is probable cause to charge a person with a felony
guilt beyond a reasonable doubt
the standard required to convict someone of a crime in a rule-of-law system
hybrid system
in government, a mixture of any two or more types of legal or judicial selection systems
the questions to be answered in a court case; a court cannot decide anything other than the issues raised by the parties
the binding decision in a court case, issued as a legal document
judicial branch
the system of courts that interprets, defends, and applies the law in the name of the government; also called judicial system
judicial independence
the concept that the judicial branch is independent of undue influence or pressure from other branches of government, partisanship, or other interests and that it is free to interpret cases using certain principles or laws, such as the nation’s constitution, without fear of reprisal
judicial review
a process in which the judicial branch reviews actions by the other branches of government to ensure that they are following the country’s constitution and its principles
judicial system
the system of courts that interprets, defends, and applies the law in the name of the government; also called judicial branch
the people who work in the judicial branch of a government; also used as a synonym for judicial branch
the authority, in the form of a written constitution or a statute, that authorizes a court to hear a case; includes both the geographical region and the topics of the court’s authority
minor criminal offenses that are often punishable by a fine
the willful refusal to obey or enforce a court order or statute
prior court decisions that provide guidance in a current case
probable cause
the amount of evidence required for the government to take specific actions against a defendant in a criminal investigation or case; determined on a case-by-case basis
procedural due process
the process, procedures, and rules that the government must follow when taking any legal action against an individual so that their rights under the constitution are protected
religious law system
a legal system that bases its laws on religious texts or beliefs
rule by law
describes political systems in which the judicial branch and the judiciary help impose the government’s approved viewpoint on the citizens; the judiciary has little independence and acts as a source of government control over individual citizens
rule of law
the principle that the government is one of law, not of any individual or group
social contract
a voluntary agreement whereby the people consent to abide by specific rules while living in a territory and the government of that territory consents to limit itself to acting in accordance with certain standards
the power of a governmental body to exercise authority by creating and imposing rules on people within the area it controls
the status necessary for an individual or group to complain about a law before the court, created by a direct injury to that individual or group as a result of government action
substantive due process
the principle that due process applies not only to legal procedures but also to broader government actions, such as the passing of laws, and that such actions are subject to review to ensure that they do not infringe on individuals’ constitutional rights
Order a print copy

As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases.


This book may not be used in the training of large language models or otherwise be ingested into large language models or generative AI offerings without OpenStax's permission.

Want to cite, share, or modify this book? This book uses the Creative Commons Attribution License and you must attribute OpenStax.

Attribution information
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a print format, then you must include on every physical page the following attribution:
    Access for free at
  • If you are redistributing all or part of this book in a digital format, then you must include on every digital page view the following attribution:
    Access for free at
Citation information

© Jan 3, 2024 OpenStax. Textbook content produced by OpenStax is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution License . The OpenStax name, OpenStax logo, OpenStax book covers, OpenStax CNX name, and OpenStax CNX logo are not subject to the Creative Commons license and may not be reproduced without the prior and express written consent of Rice University.