Perhaps the largest single body of law in
existence is that of case law. Case law is that law as interpreted and
set forth by appellate courts or courts of review. Appellate courts are
charged with hearing appeals from decisions made by lower courts (trial
courts) to determine whether prejudicial error was committed which requires
reversal of the decision or judgment reached in the lower court.
In performing this function appellate courts
have the opportunity to pass on the constitutionality of any laws that
were challenged and to interpret and determine the legislative intent that
underlies statutes. In those cases where there is no constitutional rule
or legislative enactment that applies, the appellate courts apply the rules
of common law, i.e., the law as derived from our system of Anglo-American
jurisprudence, to decide which rules or principles are necessary to resolution
of the issues at hand.