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:
- What role does each of the three branches of government play?
- How do the other two branches of government balance the judiciary?
- How are the state and federal courts structured?
- What are the primary differences between trial and appellate courts?
- 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.