A courthouse (sometimes spelled court house) is a building that is home to a local court of law and often the regional county government as well, although this is not the case in some larger cities. The term is common in North America. In most other English-speaking countries, buildings which house courts of law are simply called "courts" or "court buildings". In most of Continental Europe and former non-English-speaking European colonies, the equivalent term is a palace of justice.
In most counties in the United States, the local trial courts conduct their business in a centrally located courthouse which may also house county governmental offices. The courthouse is usually located in the county seat, although large metropolitan counties may have satellite or annex offices for their courts.
In some cases this building may be renamed in some way or its function divided as between a judicial building and administrative office building. Many judges also officiate at civil marriage ceremonies in their courthouse chambers. In some places, the courthouse also contains the main administrative office for the county government, or when a new courthouse is constructed, the former one will often be used for other local government offices. Either way, a typical courthouse will have one or more courtrooms and a court clerk's office with a filing window where litigants may submit documents for filing with the court.
Each United States district court also has a federally owned building that houses courtrooms, chambers and clerk's offices. Many federal judicial districts are further split into divisions, which may also have their own courthouses, although sometimes the smaller divisional court facilities are located in buildings that also house other agencies or offices of the United States government. The United States District Court for the Eastern District of California has a courthouse in Yosemite to hear misdemeanors and petty crimes for Yosemite National Park.
The courthouse is part of the iconography of American life and is equivalent to the city hall as the symbol of the municipium in European free cities. Courthouses are often shown in American cinema (recently in "Peyton Place" or "Back to the Future"). They range from small-town rural buildings with a few rooms to huge metropolitan courthouses that occupy large plots of land. The style of American architecture used varies, with common styles including federal, Greek Revival, neoclassicist, and modern.
Source: Courthouse from Wikipedia
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