There are 50 state court systems plus the federal system. Court hierarchies
in each jurisdiction follow this established pattern:
Highest appellate court
Intermediate appellate court
(if one exists)
The holdings of cases decided by the highest- level appellate court
in a jurisdiction are mandatory precedent for the lower courts in that
The holdings of cases decided by intermediate appellate courts are
not binding on courts at the higher appellate level. They are less likely
than decisions of the highest court to carry persuasive weight in other
Cases decided at the trial level which are not appealed usually generate
no written opinion, are not reported, and are not considered precedent.
Court decisions are good law (that is, they can be relied upon) unless
they are reversed by a higher appellate court, they are overruled by
the same court, or a statute renders the holding obsolete.