There are six jurisdictions in the judiciary: four levels of civil and criminal jurisdiction, religious jurisdiction, and tribal courts. The new civil code of 1977 regulates civil legal procedures. The supreme court, acting as a court of cassation, deals with appeals from lower courts. In some instances, as in actions against the government, it sits as a high court of justice. The courts of appeal hear appeals from all lower courts. Courts of first instance hear major civil and criminal cases. Magistrates' courts deal with cases not coming within the jurisdiction of courts of first instance. Religious courts have jurisdiction in matters concerning personal status (marriage, divorce, wills and testaments, orphans, etc.), where the laws of the different religious sects vary. The Shari'ah courts deal with the Muslim community, following the procedure laid down by the Ottoman Law of 1913. The Council of Religious Communities has jurisdiction over analogous cases among non-Muslims. Tribal courts, which have jurisdiction in most matters concerning tribe members, are losing their importance as more people take their cases to the government courts instead.
In 1991, the state security court, which hears security cases in panels of at least three judges, replaced the martial law court. Under 1993 amendments to the state security court law, all security court decisions may be appealed to the court of cassation on issues of law and weight of evidence. Prior to 1993, the court of cassation reviewed only cases involving death or imprisonment for over 10 years, and review was limited to errors of law.
Although the judiciary is independent, it is subject to political pressure and interference by the executive branch. The constitution prohibits arbitrary interference with privacy, family, and home. Police must obtain a judicial warrant before conducting searches.