Generally speaking, the U.S. court system is divided into federal and state courts.13 For a comprehensive view of the judiciary, see http://wlwatch.westlaw.com/aca/west/images/uscrtsys.gif.

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Both at the federal and state level, the court system is structured hierarchically. At a minimum, it comprises two types of courts: trial courts and courts of appeal. These are courts of general jurisdiction and can hear any type of case or dispute between two parties. Their responsibility is to explain and interpret the laws and thus solve the litigants’ claims on the rights guaranteed to them in the Constitution and by law.