methods for settling disputes in online forums.
Note that technological developments are affecting
court procedures just as they are having an impact on all
other areas of the law. In this chapter, we will also indi-
cate how court doctrines and procedures, as well as alter-
native methods of dispute settlement, are being adapted to
the needs of a cyber age.
The Judiciary’s Role
in American Government
As you learned in Chapter 1, the entirety of American law
includes the federal and state constitutions, statutes
passed by legislative bodies, administrative law, and the
case decisions and legal principles that form the common
law. These laws would be meaningless, however, without
the courts to interpret and apply them. This is the essen-
tial role of the judiciary—the courts—in the American
governmental system: to interpret and apply the law.
Traditional and Online
After reading this chapter, you should be able to answer the following questions:
What is judicial review? How and when was the power of judicial review established?
Before a court can hear a case, it must have jurisdiction. Over what must it have jurisdiction? How are the
courts applying traditional jurisdictional concepts to cases involving Internet transactions?
What is the difference between a trial court and an appellate court?
In a lawsuit, what are the pleadings? What is discovery, and how does electronic discovery differ from
traditional discovery? What is electronic filing?
How are online forums being used to resolve disputes?
ltimately, we are all affected by what the courts say
and do. This is particularly true in the business
world—nearly every businessperson will face
either a potential or an actual lawsuit at some time or
another. For this reason, anyone contemplating a career in
business will benefit from an understanding of American
court systems, including the mechanics of lawsuits.
In this chapter, after examining the judiciary’s overall
role in the American governmental scheme, we discuss
some basic requirements that must be met before a party
may bring a lawsuit before a particular court. We then
look at the court systems of the United States in some
detail and, to clarify judicial procedures, follow a hypo-
thetical case through a state court system. Even though
there are fifty-two court systems—one for each of the fifty
states, one for the District of Columbia, plus a federal sys-
tem—similarities abound. Keep in mind that the federal
courts are not superior to the state courts; they are simply
an independent system of courts, which derives its author-
ity from Article III, Sections 1 and 2, of the U.S.
Constitution. The chapter concludes with an overview of