State court (United States)

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In the United States, a state court has jurisdiction over disputes with some connection to a U.S. state, as opposed to the federal government. State courts handle the vast majority of civil and criminal cases in the United States with federal court supervision varying in scope from the non-existent/minimal to overarching, depending on the area of law and the specific case facts.

Types of state courts[edit]

Cases in state courts begin in a trial court where suits are filed and evidence is eventually presented if a case proceeds to a hearing or trial. Trials in these courts are often held only after extensive pre-trial procedures that in more than 90% of cases lead to a default judgment in a civil case, an agreed resolution settling the case, or pre-trial resolution of the case by a judge on the merits. Territory outside of any state in the United States, such as the District of Columbia or American Samoa, often have courts established under federal or territorial law which substitute for a state court system, distinct from the ordinary federal court system.

State trial courts are usually located in a courthouse in the county seat. Even when state trial courts include more than one county in a judicial district, it isn't uncommon for the state trial court to hold regular sessions at each county seat in its jurisdiction and function from the point of view of litigants as if it were a county based court.

If one of the litigants is unsatisfied with the decision of the lower court, the matter may be taken up on appeal (but an acquittal in a criminal trial may not be appealed by the state due to the Fifth Amendment protection against double jeopardy). Usually, an intermediate appellate court, if there is one in that state, often called the state court of appeals, will review the decision of the trial court. If still unsatisfied, the litigant can appeal to the highest appellate court in the state, which is usually called the state supreme court and is usually located in or near the state capital. Appellate courts in the United States, unlike their civil law counterparts, are generally not permitted to correct mistakes concerning the facts of the case on appeal, only mistakes of law, or findings of fact with no support in the trial court record.

Many states have courts of limited jurisdiction (inferior jurisdiction), presided over by (for example) a magistrate or justice of the peace who hears criminal arraignments and tries petty offenses and small civil cases. Appeals from courts of limited jurisdiction are frequently sent to state trial courts of general jurisdiction rather than to an appellate court.

Larger cities often have city courts which hear traffic offenses and violations of city ordinances; in some states, such as New York State, these courts also have broader jurisdictions as inferior jurisdiction courts and can handle small civil claims and misdemeanor casees. Other courts of limited jurisdiction include alderman's courts, police court, mayor's courts, recorder's courts, county courts, probate courts, municipal courts, juvenile courts, courts of claims, courts of common pleas, family courts, small claims courts, tax courts, water courts (present in some western states such as Colorado and Montana), and workers' compensation courts. Many states follow the federal government practice of having one or more separate systems of administrative law judges in the executive branch in addition to judicial branch judges, for example, to handle driver's license revocations, unemployment insurance claims, or land use disputes.

All these courts are distinguished from courts of general jurisdiction (superior jurisdiction), which are the default type of trial court that can hear any case which is not required to be first heard in a court of limited jurisdiction. Most such cases are civil cases involving large sums of money or criminal trials arising from serious crimes like rape and murder. Typically, felonies are handled in general jurisdiction courts, while misdemeanors and other lesser offenses are handled in inferior jurisdiction courts. Unlike most European court system (in both common law and civil law countries), it is unusual in American state courts to reserve very serious crimes for a court different from the one that handles all other felony cases in a given county. But, many state courts that handle criminal cases have separate divisions or judges assigned to handle certain types of crimes such as a drug court, sometimes also known as a "problem solving court."

A few states[which?] like California have unified all courts of general and inferior jurisdiction to make the judicial process more efficient.[citation needed] In such judicial systems, there are still departments of limited jurisdiction within the trial courts, and often these departments occupy exactly the same facilities they once occupied as independent courts of limited jurisdiction.[citation needed] However, as mere administrative divisions, departments can be rearranged at the discretion of each trial court's presiding judge in response to changing caseloads.[citation needed]

State court judges[edit]

Unlike federal courts, where judges are Presidential appointees confirmed by the U.S. Senate serving life terms of office, the vast majority of states have some judges who are elected, and the methods of appointment for appointed judges vary widely. State court judges are usually distinguished attorneys who have had some political involvement, who are pursuing second careers on the bench. But, a small number of state court judges, particularly in limited jurisdiction trial courts, are non-lawyers, who are often elected to their posts.

A disproportionate share of state court judges previously served as prosecutors, or less commonly as criminal defense attorneys or trial lawyers, although no particular background as an attorney is required to serve as a judge. The judiciary is not a separate profession in the American legal system as it is in many civil law jurisdictions.

State court judges are typically paid less, have smaller staffs available to them, and handle larger caseloads than their federal judge counterparts.

Differences among the states[edit]

Nature of matters handled in state courts[edit]

Civil cases[edit]

The vast majority of non-criminal cases in the United States are handled in state courts, rather than federal courts. For example, in Colorado, in 2002, which is typical, roughly 97% of all civil cases were filed in state courts and 89% of the civil cases filed in federal court were bankruptcies. Just 0.3% of the non-bankruptcy civil cases in the state were filed in federal court.

A large share of all civil cases filed in state courts are debt collection cases. For example, in Colorado, in 2002, about 87% of all civil cases filed in the courts of inferior jurisdiction were debt collection and eviction cases, while in the court of general jurisdiction, about 60% of all civil cases (other than domestic relations and probate cases) were debt collection, foreclosure and tax collection cases. A large share of the balance of civil cases in courts of limited jurisdiction involve temporary restraining orders, typically in non-marital domestic relations contexts, and name change petitions (generally for marriage, divorce or child custody reasons). A large share of the balance of civil cases in courts of general jurisdiction involve divorces, child custody disputes, child abuse cases, uncontested probate administrations, and personal injury cases that do not involve workplace injuries (which are usually handled through a non-judicial workers compensation process).

Many state court civil cases produce quick default judgments or pretrial settlements, but even considering only cases that actually go to trial, state courts are the dominant forum for civil cases. In Colorado, in 2002, there were 79 civil trials in federal court (41 jury and 38 non-jury), and 5950 civil trials in state court (300 jury and 5650 non-jury). [1][2] Essentially all probate and divorce cases are also brought in state court, even if the parties involved live in different states. In practice, almost all real property evictions and foreclosures are handled in state court.

State courts systems always contain some courts of "general jurisdiction." All disputes which are capable of being brought in courts, arising under either state or federal law may be brought in one of the state courts, except in a few narrow case where federal law specifically limits jurisdiction exclusively to the federal courts. Some of the most notable cases exclusively in federal jurisdiction are suits between state governments, suits involving ambassadors, certain intellectual property cases, federal criminal cases, bankruptcy cases, large interstate class action cases, and most securities fraud class actions. There are also a handful of federal laws under which lawsuits can be pursued only in state court, such as those arising under the federal "junk fax" law.[1] There have been times in U.S. history where almost all small claims, even if they arose under federal law, were required to be brought in state courts.

State court systems usually have expedited procedures for civil disputes involving small dollar amounts (typically under $5,000 to $25,000 depending upon the state court in question), most of which involve collection of small contractual debts (such as unpaid credit cards) and landlord-tenant matters. Many states have small claims divisions where all parties proceed in civil cases without lawyers, often before a magistrate or justice of the peace. Federal courts do not have parallel small claims procedures and apply the same civil rules to all civil cases, which makes federal court an expensive venue for a private party to pursue a claim for a small dollar amount.

Unlike state courts, federal courts are courts of "limited jurisdiction", that can only hear the types of cases specified in the Constitution and federal statutes (primarily federal crimes, cases arising under federal law, cases with a United States government party, and cases involving a diversity of citizenship between the parties).

Often, a plaintiff can bring a matter either to state court or to federal court, because it arises under federal law, or involves a substantial monetary dispute (in excess of $75,000 as of October 26, 2007) arising under state law between parties that do not reside in the same state. If a plaintiff files suit in state court in such a case, the defendant can remove the case to federal court if a timely request is made to do so. Deciding on the jurisdiction (jurisdictional arbitrage) is part of litigation strategy for both plaintiff and defendant, in which the make up of the likely juries in each court, and the differences between federal and state court procedures figure highly. A federal law defense to a claim arising under state law, however, is generally not a basis for removing a case to federal court from state court.

In civil cases, all or some of the substantive law issues decided by a state court may be determined under the law of another state or country, if that state's choice of law rules provide for the application of another state's laws. For example, if someone sued a resident of Missouri in a Missouri state court for an automobile accident arising in France because it was not possible to obtain jurisdiction over the defendant in a French court for some reason, the Missouri state court might apply the French law applicable to lawsuits arising from automobile accidents. Similarly, a Missouri state court presented with a Last Will and Testament signed in Florida, might apply Florida law rather than Missouri law to determine if the document was signed with the proper formalities.

There is not a federal constitutional right to a trial by jury in a state civil case under the 7th Amendment to the United States Constitution, and not all states preserve a right to a civil jury in either their state constitution or state statutes. In practice, however, civil jury trials are available, generally on a similar basis to their availability in federal court, in every state except Louisiana. In these states, there is a general right to a jury trial in cases that would arise at law in colonial England, which generally includes most cases seeking simple money damages and no other relief. In practice, about three-quarters of all civil jury trials involved personal injury cases, and most of the rest involve breaches of contracts. In states where a state constitution provides for a right to a jury trial, or a right to open courts, this has sometimes been interpreted to confer not only a procedural right to a certain type of trial, but also a substantive right to have redress through the courts for the kinds of injuries that were compensable at common law.

Prior to trial, most proceedings in non-criminal courts are conducted via papers filed in the court, often through lawyers. In limited jurisdiction courts, it is not uncommon for an initial appearance to be made in person at which a settlement is often reached. In general jurisdiction state courts, it is not uncommon for all pre-trial matters to be conducted outside the court, with attorneys negotiating scheduling matters, pre-trial examinations of witnesses taking place in lawyer's office through depositions, and a settlement conference conducted by a private mediator at the mediator's office.

Criminal cases[edit]

About 91% of people in prison at any given time in the United States were convicted in state court for violating state criminal laws, rather than in federal court for violating federal criminal laws, including 99% of defendants sentenced to death. [3]

The proportion of criminal cases brought in state court rather than federal court is higher than 91% because misdemeanor and petty offense prosecutions are disporportionately brought in state courts and most criminal prosecutions involve misdemeanors and petty offenses. The number of trials conducted in each system is another way to illustrate the relative size of the two criminal justice systems. In Colorado, in 2002, there were approximately 40 criminal trials in federal court, and there were 1,898 criminal trials (excluding hundreds of quasi-criminal trials in juvenile cases, municipal cases and infraction cases) in state courts, so only about 2% of criminal trials took place in federal court. Most jury trials in the United States take place in criminal cases in state courts.

State courts do not have jurisdiction over criminal cases arising on Indian reservations even if those reservations are located in their state. Less serious crimes on Indian reservations are prosecuted in tribal courts. A large share of violent crimes that are prosecuted in federal court arise on Indian reservations or federal property, where state courts lack jurisdiction, since tribal court jurisdiction is usually limited to less serious offenses. Federal crimes on federal property in a state are often defined with reference to state criminal law.

Federal courts disproportionately handle white-collar crimes, immigration-related crimes and drug offenses (these crimes make up about 70% of the federal docket, but just 19% of the state court criminal docket). [4][5] Federal courts have the power to bring death penalty charges under federal law, even if they arise in states where there is no death penalty under state law, but the federal government rarely utilizes this right.

Many rights of criminal defendants in state courts arise under federal law, but federal courts only examine if the state courts applied those federal rights correctly on a direct appeal from the conviction to the U.S. Supreme Court, after state court direct appeals have been exhausted, or in a collateral attack on a conviction in a habeas corpus proceeding after all state court remedies (usually including a state court habeas corpus proceeding) have been exhausted. Some rights of criminal defendants that apply in federal court do not exist in state court. For example, in many states there is no constitutional right to be indicted by a grand jury before facing a criminal prosecution for a felony or infamous misdemeanor. Two states (Louisiana and Oregon) do not require unanimous juries in non-capital criminal cases.

Unlike non-criminal cases, criminal proceedings in state courts are primarily conducted orally, in person, in open court.

Administration[edit]

In most, but not all states (California and New York are significant exceptions), the state supreme court or a related administrative body has the power to write the rules of procedure that govern the courts through a rule making process. In a few states, court procedures are largely dictated by state law.

Most states model their general jurisdiction trial court rules closely upon the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure with modifications to address types of cases that come up predominantly in state practice, and model their professional ethics rules closely upon models drafted by the American Bar Association with minor modifications. A minority of states, however, have idiosyncratic procedural rules, often based on the Field Code in place in many states before the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure were adopted. Importantly, neither California nor New York State follow the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure model.

Typically, state trial courts of limited jurisdiction have generally similar rules to state trial courts of general jurisdiction, but stripped of rules applicable to special cases like class actions and most pre-trial procedures (such as non-court ordered discovery).

Most state supreme courts also have general supervisory authority over the state court system. In this capacity they are responsible, for example, for making budget requests and administrative management decisions for the court system as a whole.

It is not uncommon for justice system functions like assisting indigent parents collect child support, and probation supervision, to be located bureaucratically in the judicial branch, rather than the executive branch. Some states give the judiciary supervisory authority over the law enforcement officers who provide court house security, enforce civil judgments and run the local jail, while reserve these functions for in executive branch governmental officials. Law enforcement officers who are in the judicial branch are typically called bailiffs or marshals. Law enforcement officers who are in the executive branch and serve a state court are often part of the office of the sheriff in the county.

State court regulation of lawyers[edit]

Many state supreme courts are the primary regulatory body for lawyers in their state and determine who can practice law and when lawyers are sanctioned for violations of professional ethical rules, which are generally also put in place as state court rules. Typically, professional misconduct cases are heard in the first instance by a bar committee or special master, with appeals from rulings made at that level directly to the state supreme court, which has original jurisdiction over the case and can consider new evidence. In some states, with what is known as an integrated bar this function is filled primarily by a state bar association. For example, the bar exam is administered only by states and by federal jurisdictions that substitute for states such as the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. There is no federal bar exam (except in a few narrow subject matter specialties such as patent law).

In the United States, states take primary responsibility for regulating lawyers, while specific federal courts generally allow almost anyone admitted to the practice of law in the state in their jurisdiction to practice law before them if the attorney is in good standing with all state courts to which the attorney is admitted. This is generally handled on a federal court by federal court basis, and is revoked only for misconduct in that federal court or as reciprocal discipline for misconduct findings made by another jurisdiction.

All or almost all states practice reciprocal discipline, sanctioning lawyers found to have violated ethical rules in another state in their own state without a full hearing on the matter.

Relationship to federal courts[edit]

The relationship between state courts and federal courts is quite complicated. Although the United States Constitution and federal laws override state laws where there is a conflict between federal and state law, state courts are not subordinate to federal courts. Rather, they are two parallel sets of courts with different often overlapping jurisdiction. While federal law is supreme relative to state law, federal courts are not always superior to state courts.

Under the 11th Amendment to the United States Constitution, federal courts are generally prohibited from exercising jurisdiction in civil lawsuits for money damages between a state government and a private party. This limitation does not generally, however, prohibit federal courts from considering suits by private parties against local governments, state and local officials, state sponsored entities that are not part of state government, or suits against states seeking injunctive relief but not money damages.

There are multiple areas such as tax collection and legislative action, where federal courts may not impose injunctions on states as a matter of federal statutory law.

Federal courts must defer to state courts in their the interpretation of state laws, and sometimes "certify" a question of state law in a case pending before it to the highest state court in the state, if state law is unsettled on the issue.

As a general rule, federal courts, other than the U.S. Supreme Court, do not resolve federal law issues pending in state courts. This is true even when, for example, two different state courts reach conflicting interpretations of a federal law in cases involving the same parties litigating the same issues in more than one forum, such as jurisdictional issues arising under the federal Parental Kidnapping Prevention Act.

Some state courts may certify a question of federal law to a federal court, but this is less common and is generally not mandatory.

While there are multiple ways that federal courts can review state court decisions for violations of state law, in practice, there is virtually no federal court review of state courts in civil cases, and there is in practice, very little meaningful federal court review of state courts in criminal cases where the death penalty is not imposed. There is substantial review by the federal courts, in practice, of state court decisions to impose the death penalty, however.

Removal and remand[edit]

In cases where federal court and state court jurisdiction overlap, cases can usually be "removed" from state court to federal court by the defendant, but this right is often subject to strict procedural limitations. A failure to make a timely assertion of a right to a federal forum can cause a case within federal jurisdiction on its face, to be triable only in state court.

In a case with some issues that are within the jurisdiction of a federal court, and others that are within state court jurisdiction, a case can often still be "removed" to federal court. But, if the federal court then resolves the issues that give rise to its jurisdiction, the case may be "remanded" back to state court.

Removal and remand are primarily matters of federal statutory law.

Direct appellate review of state court decisions[edit]

The U.S. Supreme Court can (but are not required to) review final decision of state courts, after a party exhausts all remedies up to a request for relief from the state's highest appellate court, if the justices believe that the case involves an important question of constitutional law or federal law. Generally speaking the U.S. Supreme Court does not review decisions of state courts that depend entirely on the resolution of a state law issue.

For example, the U.S. Supreme Court will generally not consider an appeal of a state court determination that someone has both a state constitutional right and a federal constitutional right, if the result would be no different if that person had only a state constitutional right.

Normally in an average sized state, one or two decisions every year or two from a state's court system are reviewed by the U.S. Supreme Court. Most U.S. Supreme Court reviews of state court decisions involve review of the constitutional rights of state court criminal defendants. A disproportionate share of the state court criminal cases reviewed on direct appeal by the U.S. Supreme Court involve death penalty cases.

In a typical state, multiple years will pass between U.S. Supreme Court reviews of a state court decision in a civil case, despite the fact that more than 97% of civil cases are brought in state courts rather than federal court.

Collateral attacks on state court decisions[edit]

Civil cases[edit]

The doctrines of collateral estoppel and res judicata require any state or federal court deciding matters resolved on the merits by a court with jurisdiction between the parties or certain closely related parties differently than the way that they were previously adjudicated. The doctrine of collateral estoppel pertains to specific issues decided in prior cases. The doctrine of res judicata applies to an entire case.

Under the Rooker-Feldman doctrine, federal trial courts are prohibited from considering matters already resolved in a state court civil action that is in the nature of an appeal, even on an issue of federal law. Federal courts are prohibited from issuing injunctions against certain kinds of activities of states, such as their tax collection activities, or directing state legislative bodies to take particular actions.

Federal bankruptcy court petitions generally interrupt pending state court proceedings in civil matters involving the petitioner (with select exceptions, primarily for domestic relations matters). The bankruptcy court then determines if the interrupted state court proceeding should be returned to state court for resolution, or should be resolved in a federal bankruptcy court adversarial proceeding, based upon the applicable bankruptcy law. Bankruptcy courts also have the power to discharge debts and obligations arising from state court judgments in accordance with federal bankrtupcy law.

Criminal cases[edit]

In criminal cases, under a theory of dual sovereignty, both the state government and the federal government may independently prosecute crimes arising out of the same criminal conduct, even if the dual prosecution would violate the right to not be tried more than once for the same offense if the prosecutions had both happened at the state level or had both happened at the federal level. Generally, the United States Justice Department does not engage in prosecutions of crimes prosecuted at the state level as a matter of policy, and generally, the United States Justice Department and local prosecutors cooperate in deciding which level of government will prosecute which crimes, but this cooperation is a matter of comity, rather than a constitutional requirement.

While rare, federal reprosecution of a crime tried in state court that produced an acquittal can be the functional equivalent of a trial de novo appeal of a state court prosecution, and vice versa.

Federal court review may review state court judgments in criminal cases by ruling on petitions for a federal writ of habeas corpus, in which a federal court is asked to review whether a defendant has been given due process of law as defined under federal law. Normally, federal habeas corpus petitions are filed in the U.S. District Court for the appropriate district, which is the federal trial court, but only after all remedies in the state court system, including state court habeas corpus petitions or the equivalent, have been exhausted. This process typically takes several years. But, if the federal court finds that the defendant has been denied due process then the defendant must be released or re-tried in the state court. Review of the merits of the trial court case is generally prohibited. Habeas corpus review is granted in, on average, 75 death penalty cases and 380 non-death penalty cases per year, in the entire United States, from about 190 petitions in death penalty cases and about 19,000 non-death penalty criminal cases filed each year in the entire United States.

Federal courts also indirectly apply federal law to state and local officials, including those involved in the court process, by hearing civil rights cases brought against individuals and local governments for money damages and injunctive relief. Prisoner's in state prisons may also file prisoner's petitions in federal court alleging civil rights violations by correctional officials, and these petitions often make up a large share of the civil cases filed in a given federal court, but relief is very rarely granted in such cases. When the person or class of persons bringing the suit prevails, the result is often a consent decree that gives a federal court, or a special master appointed by a federal court, supervisory authority over the way that a state or local government entity carries out its duties. For example, if a local law enforcement agency is alleged to have engaged in racial profiling it would not be unusual for the case to be resolved by having the local law enforcement agency adopt procedures to be used in traffic stops, with compliance supervised by a federal trial court judge. Similarly, lawsuits alleging some types of police misconduct and prosecutorial misconduct may often be brought in federal court, and federal courts may enjoin state officials from enforcing state laws found to be unconstitutional in a federal lawsuit, under threat of being held personally in contempt of court for doing otherwise.

Academic scholarship[edit]

Despite the predominance of state courts in terms of cases handled, most academic scholarship concerning courts takes place at the federal level, because it has greater relevance in a national market for academic scholarship, because federal courts generally have more accessible records, and because many important kinds of litigation are handled primarily at the federal level. The core curriculum in American law schools, however, is largely devoted to matters primarily litigated in state courts, such as contract disputes, trusts and estates, personal injury cases, common law crimes, constitutional criminal procedure, family law, property law, commercial transactions, and state corporate law. These casebooks in these coure classes primarily consist of landmark state appellate court decisions.

Nomenclature[edit]

The following table notes the names of the courts in the states and territories of the United States. Listed are the principal courts of first instance (general jurisdiction), the principal intermediate appellate courts, and the courts of final appeal or resort.

In some cases where courts are generally assigned to counties, the number of county-based courts does not exactly match the number of actual counties in the state. This happens when a single court has jurisdiction over more than one county.

StateCourt of first instance (general jurisdiction trial courts)Intermediate appellate courtCourt of last resort
(State supreme court)
AlabamaCircuit Court (41 judicial districts)Court of Civil Appeals
Court of Criminal Appeals
(-1969: single Court of Appeals)
Supreme Court
AlaskaSuperior Court (four districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
ArizonaSuperior Court (15 counties)Court of Appeals (two divisions)Supreme Court
ArkansasCircuit Court (23 judicial circuits)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
CaliforniaSuperior Court (58 counties)Courts of Appeal (six appellate districts)Supreme Court
ColoradoDistrict Court (22 judicial districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
ConnecticutSuperior Court (13 judicial districts)Appellate CourtSupreme Court
(previously: Supreme Court of Errors)
DelawareSuperior Court
(previously: Superior Court and Orphans' Court)
Court of Chancery
(none)Supreme Court
(previously: Court of Errors and Appeals)
District of ColumbiaSuperior Court(none)Court of Appeals
(previously: Municipal Court of Appeals)
FloridaCircuit Court (20 judicial circuits)District Court of Appeal
(5 districts)
Supreme Court
GeorgiaSuperior Court (49 judicial circuits)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
HawaiiCircuit Court (four circuits)Intermediate Court of AppealsSupreme Court
IdahoDistrict Court (7 judicial districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
IllinoisCircuit Court (23 judicial circuits)Appellate Court
(5 districts)
Supreme Court
IndianaCircuit Court (90 circuits)(District) Court of Appeals
(5 districts)
(previously: Appellate Court)
Supreme Court
IowaDistrict Court
(8 districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
KansasDistrict Court (31 districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
KentuckyCircuit Court (57 circuits)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
(-1976: Court of Appeals)
LouisianaDistrict Court
(40 districts)
(Circuit) Courts of Appeal
(5 circuits)
Supreme Court
(-1813: Superior Court)
MaineSuperior Court(none)Supreme Judicial Court
MarylandCircuit Court
(8 judicial circuits)
Court of Special AppealsCourt of Appeals
MassachusettsSuperior Court
(14 divisions)
Appeals CourtSupreme Judicial Court
MichiganCircuit Court (57 circuits)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
MinnesotaDistrict Court (10 districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
MississippiCircuit Court (22 districts)
Chancery Court (20 districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
MissouriCircuit Court
(45 circuits)
(District) Court of Appeals
(3 districts)
Supreme Court
MontanaDistrict Court
(22 judicial districts)
(none)Supreme Court
NebraskaDistrict Court
(12 districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
NevadaDistrict Court
(9 districts)
(none)Supreme Court
New HampshireSuperior Court(none)Supreme Court
New Jersey(Vicinage) Superior Court
(15 vicinages), has separate law & equity divisions
Superior Court, Appellate Division
(previously: Court of Chancery,
Supreme Court,
and Prerogative Court)
Supreme Court
(previously: Court of Errors and Appeals)
New MexicoDistrict Court
(13 judicial districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
New York(District) Supreme Court
(12 judicial districts)
County Court
(57 counties)
Supreme Court, Appellate Term
(3 judicial departments)
Supreme Court, Appellate Division
(4 departments)
Court of Appeals
(-1848: Court for the correction of Errors,
Supreme Court of Judicature,
and Court of Chancery)
North CarolinaSuperior Court (46 districts)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
North DakotaDistrict Court
(7 judicial districts)
(none)Supreme Court
Ohio(County) Court of Common Pleas
(88 counties)
(District) Court of Appeals
(12 districts)
Supreme Court
OklahomaDistrict Court
(26 judicial districts with 77 district courts)
Court of Civil AppealsSupreme Court
Court of Criminal Appeals
(1907-1959: Criminal Court of Appeals)
Oregon(District) Circuit Court
(36 courts administratively divided between 27 judicial districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
PennsylvaniaCounty Court of Common Pleas
(60 judicial districts)
Superior Court
Commonwealth Court
Supreme Court
Rhode IslandSuperior Court(none)Supreme Court
South CarolinaCircuit Court
(16 circuits)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
South DakotaCircuit Court
(7 circuits)
(none)Supreme Court
Tennessee(District) Circuit Court
(31 judicial districts)
(District) Criminal Court
(31 judicial districts)
(District) Chancery Court
(31 judicial districts)
(Grand Division) Court of Appeals
(3 grand divisions)
(Grand Division) Court of Criminal Appeals
(3 grand divisions)
Supreme Court
TexasDistrict Court
(420 districts)
(District) Court of Appeals
(14 districts)
Supreme Court (civil cases);
Court of Criminal Appeals
UtahDistrict Court
(8 districts)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
VermontSuperior Court
District Court
Family Court
(none)Supreme Court
VirginiaCircuit Court (120 courts divided among 31 judicial circuits)Court of AppealsSupreme Court
(previously: Supreme Court of Appeals)
Washington(County) Superior Court (39 counties)(Division) Court of Appeals
(3 divisions)
Supreme Court
West VirginiaCircuit Court
(31 judicial circuits)
(none)Supreme Court of Appeals
Wisconsin(District) Circuit Court
(10 judicial administrative districts)
(District) Court of Appeals
(4 districts)
Supreme Court
WyomingDistrict Court (nine districts)(none)Supreme Court
American SamoaHigh Court, Trial Division(none)High Court, Appellate Division
GuamSuperior Court(none)Supreme Court
Northern Mariana IslandsSuperior Court(none)Supreme Court
Puerto RicoCourt of First Instance
Superior Division (13)
Municipal Division (13)
Court of AppealsSupreme Court
U.S. Virgin IslandsSuperior Court (two divisions)(none)Supreme Court

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ See Telephone Consumer Protection Act (Act), 47 U.S.C.S. § 227 (the "junk fax" law); Consumer Crusade, Inc. v. Affordable Health Care Solutions, Inc., 121 P.3d 350 (Colo. App. 2005)

External links and references[edit]