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Criminal litigation involves the government’s prosecution of a person because of an alleged commission of a crime. Criminal laws (federal, state, and local statutes) define criminal offenses. Criminal behavior is punished by imposing a fine or imprisonment on the offender.


State legislatures have passed laws setting up various state administrative agencies. Some examples of state administrative agencies include public utilities commissions, worker’s compensation bureaus, motor vehicle bureaus, and natural resources departments. State agencies exercise powers delegated to them by the state legislature.


If a litigant is dissatisfied with the trial court’s judgment, the litigant can file an appeal. The party who files the appeal is called the appellant; the other party is called the appellee or respondent. This article discusses the steps in the state appellate procedural process.


The independence of the judiciary is a central principle of a democracy. Judicial independence permits judges to make rulings based on legal principles instead of politics or public opinion. An independent court system allows fair and impartial decisions in legal cases. Political scientists have conducted research and studies to identify what factors influence a judge’s decision-making.


Amicus curiae is a Latin term meaning “friend of the court.” An amicus curiae is not a party to the lawsuit but is a person or group that has a strong interest in the matter being litigated.