Arizona Judicial Branch

Today's Court System Has Three Levels

Level 1—Limited Jurisdiction. Justice of the peace courts and municipal (or city) courts have limited jurisdiction, meaning that their authority is restricted to certain cases. The cases these courts decide may be limited by the subject, the amount of money involved, or the sentence that can be imposed. They are non-record courts and do not have to make permanent records of court proceedings, although some courts do.

Level 2—General Jurisdiction. The general jurisdiction court is the Superior Court of Arizona, a statewide trial court. This court hears the widest variety of cases and keeps permanent records of court proceedings. Each county has at least one superior court facility, and it is referred to by its county location—for example, the Superior Court in Maricopa County.

Level 3—Appellate Jurisdiction. The Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court are Arizona’s appellate courts. The state appellate courts have jurisdiction to review trials and decisions appealed to them. Most appeals heard by the two divisions of the Court of Appeals come from the superior court, except for death penalty appeals and some cases involving elected officials and disputes between counties, which go directly to the Supreme Court.

To appeal a decision from the Court of Appeals, the appellant must file a petition for review requesting a Supreme Court hearing. The Supreme Court justices evaluate the petitions for review and decide whether they will hear the case. Unlike the Court of Appeals, the Supreme Court is not required to hear every appeal.