King Henry II instituted the custom of having judges ride the circuit each year to hear cases, rather than requiring every citizen to bring their cases to London (see Assize of Clarendon). Thus, the term "circuit court" is derived from the practice of having judges ride around the countryside each year on pre-set paths − circuits − to hear cases. Especially on the United States frontier, a judge might travel on horseback along with a group of lawyers. Abraham Lincoln was one such attorney who would ride the circuit in Illinois. In more settled areas, a stagecoach would be used. Eventually, the legal caseload in a county would become great enough to warrant the establishment of a local judiciary. Most of these local judicial circuits (that is, in terms of the actual routes traveled by judges) have been thus replaced by judges regularly stationed at local courthouses, but in many areas, the legacy term remains in usage.
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