The United States of America has a number of State Courts which have the legal authority to deal with judicial cases according to the law of the state. Certain areas like the districts of Columbia have their own version of State Courts that hear local cases and are completely separate from the federal court system. Many of these courts have only a limited jurisdiction and have authority only to dispense with petty criminal offenses and small civil disputes.
The state court system of the United States of America varies from state to state. Despite dealing with cases according to the laws of each state, they remain similar as far as the basic structure of the State Courts are concerned. Each state has two sets of trial courts and intermediate appellate courts. The highest state courts are often called by different names and their judges can only serve the court for a limited number of years.
Most states of the United States have family courts to deal with cases involving families and children. A decision given by the family courts on abused or neglected children, domestic violence a well as guardianship is binding and all parties concerned have to abide by it. Information about family court cases can be obtained online simply by logging in to court website.
The probate court is also known as the surrogate court and deals with all probate matters of the state. The probate law differs from state to state and most of them handle dispensing of estates especially if the owner dies intestate. Validation of a legal will can be disputed in a probate court as well. Additionally, the probate court can also take over certain family court responsibilities like guardianship and adoptions.
Small claims courts can be found in many countries of Europe as well as the United States. The courts have a very limited authority and can hear civil cases between private parties. Usually small amounts of money are involved in such disputes. This is a typically unique type of state court and the federal court system of the country has no equivalent to the small claims court.
The State Court handles the majority of all non criminal offenses. Statistics show that the state of Colorado handled a record 97% of all civil cases in the year 2002. The state courts irrespective of the actual location of the parties concerned also deal with almost all probate and divorce cases. All state court records can be easily accessed online by going through various state and legal resources.
Larger cities often have traffic courts for dealing with various offenses related to traffic. However, all legal hearings pertaining to violation of traffic laws are usually differ from state to state. The local court where the violation occurred is the place for hearing in the state of New York. The Municipal Court takes care of all traffic related matters in New Jersey whereas the department of Motor Vehicles handles traffic tickets within the boundaries of Washington D.C.
Trial courts, also known as courts of first instance usually hear specialized state court cases. They may be both civil as well as criminal in nature. The cases usually include disputes involving very small amounts of money or deal with probate and family matters exclusively within the state.