judiciary | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

The term judiciary is used to refer to the court system of a country or state, as well as judges, taken collectively.

The judiciary, also known as the judicial system, is a vital part of our criminal justice system. Both the Constitution and laws give it power. Its main job is to interpret and apply these laws. In other words, it tells us what laws mean and ensures they are followed.

Key Role of the Judiciary in Criminal Justice

After all, the judiciary plays an essential role in maintaining order and ensuring fairness. It does this by resolving disputes and determining the guilt or innocence of individuals accused of crimes. The judiciary acts as a balancing force, making sure that no individual or group abuses their power. Above all, it safeguards our rights and freedoms.

Judges and Courts: The Heart of the Judiciary

The judiciary consists of courts and judges. Judges are like referees in a game. They make sure the rules, in this case, laws, are followed. They listen to both sides of a case and make a decision based on the evidence and the law. Courts, on the other hand, are the arenas where legal battles are fought. They are places where judges, lawyers, and those involved in a dispute come together to find a resolution.

Different Types of Courts

In the judiciary, there are different types of courts. For example, trial courts are where cases start. These courts listen to evidence and witness testimonies to decide the facts of a case. If someone isn’t happy with a trial court’s decision, they can take the case to an appellate court. These courts do not decide on the facts, but they review whether the law was applied correctly by the trial court. The highest court in the land is the Supreme Court. If a case goes to the supreme court, its decision is final.

The Importance of Judicial Independence

Not only does the judiciary interpret the law, but it also needs to be independent. This means that judges should make decisions based on the law, not on personal beliefs or pressures from the government or the public. Judicial independence is crucial in preserving fairness and impartiality in the justice system.

Judiciary’s Role in Law-making

The judiciary also has a role in law-making. This is through a process called judicial review, where courts examine the constitutionality of laws or government actions. If a court finds a law unconstitutional, then it can declare that law void. Thus, the judiciary contributes to shaping the laws of the land.

The Big Picture

It’s important to understand that the judiciary impacts our everyday lives. It provides a way for us to resolve disputes peacefully and ensures that our rights are protected. All in all, the judiciary plays an essential role in upholding the rule of law and preserving our democracy.


To sum up, the judiciary is a vital branch of our government. It interprets the law, administers justice, and checks the abuse of power. Its role in our criminal justice system ensures fairness, order, and the protection of our rights. Whether in cases of criminal or civil disputes, the judiciary helps to maintain balance and promote justice in our society.

Learn More

On This Site

On Other Sites

Hamilton, A. (1788). The judiciary departmentThe Federalist Papers78.

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Last Modified: 06/12/2023


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