Judicial power is exercised by the nine-member Supreme Court (with seven substitutes) and 10 courts of appeal, as well as by 67 courts of first instance and 325 justice of the peace courts of limited jurisdiction. The Supreme Court appoints the judges of the courts of appeal and the courts of first instance, who, in turn, appoint local justices of the peace. The justices of the Supreme Court are elected by the National Assembly and serve for four-year terms. The Supreme Court has the power to declare laws unconstitutional.
There is a military court of first instance from which appeals can be taken to the civilian judicial system. In practice, the civilian courts are not independent. Because of underfunding and corruption, the formal resolution of legal disputes in courts is often the product of influence and political pressure.
The constitution provides for an independent judiciary and the right to a fair trial. A public defender program provides services to indigent defendants. There are 106 public defenders and 196 public prosecutors assigned nationally.
Honduras accepts the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice with reservations.