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Chapter 2 The Court System

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should have a thorough understanding of the U.S. court system and how it affects the conduct of businesses and individuals. Specifically, you should be able to answer the following questions:

  1. What role does each of the three branches of government play?
  2. How do the other two branches of government balance the judiciary?
  3. How are the state and federal courts structured?
  4. What are the primary differences between trial and appellate courts?
  5. How does the Supreme Court do its work?

As you now know, laws are meaningless if they are not enforced. Companies have to make a barrage of decisions daily, from product development to marketing to strategies to maintain growth, but most of these are based on sound business acumen rather than legal requirements. If a company does violate a law, however, it must be held accountable. Typically, that accountability comes in the form of a lawsuit heard in court. Whether a suit is brought by a supplier, customer, employee, shareholder, or other stakeholder, litigation is a fact of life for companies. As future business professionals, being familiar with our court system will lay the foundation for your understanding of the litigation process.