The term of office is lengthy, not less than four years in any State, except Vermont, where it is two years; six, seven, eight, nine, ten, twelve, fourteen, or fifteen years in most States; twenty-one years in Pennsylvania; during good behavior in Massachusetts; until the judges are seventy years of age in New Hampshire; and practically for life in Rhode Island.
The jurisdiction of the supreme court, or court of appeals, extends over the entire State. It holds sessions at the State capital, and in some States at other prominent places, and is chiefly engaged in the trial of cases in which appeals have been taken from the decisions of the lower courts.
Its decision is final, but in cases in which it is alleged that the State law is in conflict with the constitution or laws of the United States, appeals may be taken to the United States Supreme Court at Washington.
DISTRICT, OR CIRCUIT COURT.—The people most commonly resort to the district court, circuit court, or superior court, as it is variously called in different States, to secure justice. In it are tried the great body of important civil and criminal cases, and also appeals from the lower courts.
The jurisdiction of the district court is limited to a district created by the State constitution or by act of the State legislature. In some cases the district consists of a single county; usually it includes two or more counties, the court being held successively in each county of the district.
In each district there is usually one district judge, who is elected by the people, appointed by the governor, or elected by the legislature.
The term of office in most States is four, six, or eight years.
In some of the districts of certain States there are criminal courts having jurisdiction in criminal cases, and chancery courts or courts of common pleas having jurisdiction in certain civil cases.
In some States there is a high court of chancery having State jurisdiction, and in others there is a superior court which has State jurisdiction, and whose rank is between the supreme court and the district courts.
ORGANIZATION.—Congress organizes the public domain into Territories, fixes their boundaries, and establishes their governments. The act of organization is passed as soon as the population is dense enough to require governmental authority.
EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT.—The governor and the secretary of the Territory are appointed by the President of the United States, with the consent of the United States Senate, and serve for four years, unless removed. The governor appoints a treasurer, an auditor or comptroller, a superintendent of public instruction, an attorney-general, and several other territorial officers.
LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT.—The legislature consists of a senate of eight or fifteen members, and a house of representatives of sixteen or thirty members elected by the people of the Territory. The senate is sometimes called the upper house of the legislature. Although the governor and the legislature rule the Territory, all laws passed by them must be submitted to Congress, and, if disapproved, they become null and void.