A court of last resort
is a court
from which no further appeal
s are possible. In the United States of America
, there are over fifty. For cases of federal law
, the court of last resort is the United States Supreme Court
in Washington, DC
. For cases of state law
, the court of last resort is the highest court in that state. Most courts of last resort are called "supreme court
s," but there are several exceptions: the New York Court of Appeals
, District of Columbia Court of Appeals
, Maryland Court of Appeals
, Maine Supreme Judicial Court
, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court
, and West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals
These courts are appellate courts, and only handle cases that have already been presented in trial courts, district courts, or intermediate appellate courts. Juries are not used, and the judges' collective decision is final.
In most cases, one or both litigants do not have the time or resources to appeal decisions handed down in lower courts, and so courts of last resort usually only handle high-profile or high-stakes cases.
Judges on a court of last resort are called "justices," and there can be anywhere from three to nine justices on the court: the most common number is seven. Salaries for these judges range from $62,500 (for an associate justice in a small state supreme court) to $171,500 (for the chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court).