Judicial systems organized under the influence of the English tradition have exhibited a tendency to pass through four stages of development. (1) In the first stage the highest court (not taking into consideration legislative bodies) has final appellate jurisdiction and a superior original jurisdiction, civil and criminal. The court is composed of three or more judges who sit in bank for the trial of cases. The judges may sit at a central place or go on circuit throughout the territory. (2) In the second stage the highest court has both original and appellate jurisdiction but does not undertake to try in bank all cases which are brought before it. The judges go on circuit alone to try issues of fact and sit in bank at a central place to consider questions of law raised before and after trial. Cases are commenced in the central court or are removed there before trial, and judgments are there entered. Courts of oyer and terminer and jail delivery take care of much of the criminal business previously disposed of by the court in bank. (3) In the third stage of development the highest court has appellate jurisdiction and some original jurisdiction, and its judges continue to ride their respective circuits. Cases tried on circuit are not, however, cases of the central court but are cases commenced in the circuit courts where judgments are entered. (4) In the fourth stage of development the highest court has appellate jurisdiction only, and its judges no longer go on circuit for the trial of cases. The court sits in bank at a central place to hear the matters which come before it.
William W. Blume,
CIRCUIT COURTS AND THE NISI PRIUS SYSTEM: THE MAKING OF AN APPELLATE COURT,
Mich. L. Rev.
Available at: https://repository.law.umich.edu/mlr/vol38/iss3/2