This article presents a model of a five court state system. Each court having a specific jurisdiction and performing a separate and distinct function within their jurisdiction. The five courts are: Municipal, District, Superior, Appellate and State Supreme Court.
Municipal courts jurisdiction extends to violations of all city ordinances. They are empowered to decide causes, both civil and criminal, that arise as a result of violation of city ordinances within the city's boundaries.
In the case of criminal violations of city ordinances they shall only impose punishment not to exceed one year in the city jail or a fine not greater than five thousand dollars, or both. The punishment for violation of a city ordinance must be the same as the punishment specified by state law for the same crime.
All civil and criminal judgments they render are subject to review at a higher level either by writ of review or by appeal.
District courts are found strategically located throughout the various regions of a state and are administered by local regional governments depending on the geographic and population makeup of the region. Their jurisdiction extends to civil and criminal matters within their respective regions.
They hear civil matters wherein the claim or amount in issue is not greater than seventy-five thousand dollars. And, they hear all non-felony criminal matters committed within their region whose punishment does not exceed one year in the regional jail, or a fine not greater than five thousand dollars, or both.
All civil and criminal judgments rendered by the court are subject to review at a higher level either by writ of review or by appeal.
Each region has a superior court which is located in the regions seat of government. It hears all civil cases wherein the claim is greater than seventy-five thousand dollars. It has concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts in all non-felony criminal cases. Felony criminal cases are heard in superior court as the court has original jurisdiction in all felony matters.
Superior courts typically have separate departments which are empowered to handle family law matters and all juvenile matters both civil and criminal. Additionally, they hear all appeals from the municipal and district courts.
Depending on population, appellate courts would be assigned to geographical districts. They have appellate jurisdiction in their geographical district. They hear all appeals from below, in their respective district, for both civil and criminal cases. The cases decided by the appellate courts become precedent and further define the statutory law applied in the superior courts.
The supreme court in the state would consist of nine judges. It hears appeals from the appellate courts on both civil and criminal matters. On occasion it will hear an appeal directly from the superior court. The supreme court is the final arbiter of all matters within the state court system. To appeal a finding of the supreme court requires an appeal to the federal court system.
This model court system is designed to provide the people of a state access to their courts to settle both civil and criminal matters. It also provides an orderly distribution of the work load for both civil and criminal matters resulting in a very efficient court system. In addition, this system provides an orderly progression of the appeal process to address errors that may occur in the lower courts.
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