The Federal Court of Justice in Lausanne is composed of 30 permanent members appointed for six-year terms by the Federal Assembly. Until 2000, the court had both original and final jurisdiction in the majority of cases where a canton or the federal government was involved, and was the highest appeals court for many types of cases. Judicial reforms carried out in 2000 reduced the caseload of the Federal Court, by creating a federal criminal court and federal administrative bodies with judicial competence. Now, the Federal Court exists as a pure appellate court.
Each canton has its own cantonal courts. District courts have three to five members and try lesser criminal and civil cases. Each canton has an appeals court and a court of cassation, the jurisdiction of which is limited to reviewing judicial procedures. Capital punishment was abolished in 1942. Minor cases are tried by a single judge, difficult cases by a panel of judges, and murder and other serious crimes by a public jury.
The judiciary is independent and free from interference by other branches of government. The trials are fair and the judicial process is efficient. The judicial system is based on civil law influenced by customary law. Switzerland accepts compulsory jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice.