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Types of Courts
Arizona state court system.

Types of cases not referred to in the U.S. Constitution or granted to the federal court system by the laws of Congress fall under the jurisdiction of the 50 separate state court systems.

The Arizona state court system is divided into three types of courts based on jurisdiction: appellate, general and limited.

Limited Jurisdiction

Courts of limited and special jurisdiction include the Justice Courts and the Magistrate Courts. Magistrate Courts are also referred to as City or Municipal Courts.

Justice of the Peace Courts

  • eviction actions, and landlord and tenant disputes
  • misdemeanor crimes
  • initial appearances for felonies
  • preliminary hearings for felonies

Justice of the Peace Courts (cont'd)

  • civil disputes involving amounts less than $10,000
  • collection cases
  • traffic cases
  • small claims cases involving less than $3,500

Municipal Courts

  • traffic cases
  • misdemeanors
  • violations of local ordinances
General Jurisdiction

The Arizona Superior Court, a court of general jurisdiction, is considered one court with locations in each of the 15 counties in the state. The population of a county determines the number of authorized judgeships.

Superior Court

  • family law (divorce, legal separation, annulment, paternity)
  • probate (guardianship, conservatorship, wills, estates)
  • cases and proceedings in which exclusive jurisdiction is not vested by law in another court
  • equity cases that involve title to or possession of real property or the legality of any tax, assessment, toll or municipal ordinance

Superior Court (cont'd)

  • other cases in which the value of property in question is $1,000 or more, exclusive of interest and costs
  • criminal cases amounting to a felony, and misdemeanor cases not otherwise provided for by law
  • proceedings in insolvency (however, bankruptcy is handled in federal court)

Superior Court (cont'd)

  • actions to prevent or stop nuisances
  • naturalization and the issuance of appropriate documents for these events
  • special cases and proceedings not otherwise provided for, and such other jurisdiction as may be provided by law
Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts of Appellate Jurisdiction include the Arizona Supreme Court (court of last resort) and the Arizona Court of Appeals (intermediate appellate court). These courts review decisions made in a lower court.

Supreme Court

  • provides rules of procedure for all the courts in Arizona
  • has discretionary jurisdiction, meaning that the court may refuse to review the findings of the lower court
  • always hears the appeal when the superior court imposes a death sentence
  • regulates activities of the State Bar of Arizona and oversees admission of new attorneys to the practice of law

Supreme Court (cont'd)

  • reviews charges of misconduct against attorneys, and has the authority to suspend or disbar them
  • serves as the final decision-making body when disciplinary recommendations are filed against Arizona judges by the Commission on Judicial Conduct

Court of Appeals

  • hears and decides cases in three-judge panels
  • has jurisdiction in all matters properly appealed from superior court
  • reviews all decisions properly appealed to it