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Divisions of Superior Court

The Superior Court hears civil, criminal, family and juvenile matters.

Civil Division hears cases in which someone is being sued to protect civil, personal or property rights. Typical cases include automobile or personal accidents, landlord-tenant disputes, product or professional liability disputes, and disputed contracts.

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In most civil cases, the accusing party (the plaintiff) wants money damages (judgment or award) from the other party (the defendant). Cases may be decided by a judge, a jury or by a non-judicial officer, depending on the nature of the claim and the preference of the parties. Landlord-tenant cases and small claims cases are usually heard in geographical area courts. Administrative appeals and civil jury and non-jury cases are usually heard in judicial district courthouses. Tax cases are heard in a special tax session. Information on Special Sessions.

The Civil Division is divided into five parts or types:

  1. Administrative Appeals;
  2. Civil Jury;
  3. Civil Non-Jury;
  4. Landlord-Tenant, including evictions (called summary process);
  5. Small Claims

Criminal Division hears cases where the state is prosecuting a person (the defendant) who is accused of breaking the law. The state is represented by a state's attorney. There are three kinds of criminal cases, depending on the severity of the offense: crimes which include felonies - punishable by prison sentences more than one year - and misdemeanors - punishable by prison sentences of one year or less; violations which include motor vehicle cases punishable by a fine only; and, infractions where a fine may be paid by mail without requiring a court appearance (for example, traffic tickets). All criminal cases but the most serious ones are heard in geographical area courts around the state.

Family Division hears cases involving juveniles and family relationships. Typical cases include divorce, child custody, child support, relief from abuse (temporary restraining orders), juvenile delinquency, child abuse and neglect, and termination of parental rights. Most family cases are heard in judicial district courthouses. Cases involving juveniles are heard in juvenile court facilities described below.

Juvenile Matters is a special subdivision of Superior Court designed to protect the rights of children, family relationships and confidentiality. There are thirteen Juvenile Courts state-wide. All court documents are confidential and court hearings are closed to the public. All juvenile court cases either involve care of the minor child or the child's behavior. Children are those under 16 years old. Youth are age 16 up to age 18. Cases in juvenile court include: termination of parental rights; emancipation of a minor; delinquency (crimes committed by children under age 16); neglected or uncared for children and youth; families with service needs (FWSN) (a family with a child under age 16 who has bad behavior).

 

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