Marc Schulman


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State Court System

All the courts in a state, when taken together, make up the state court system. On the lowest level, many states have justices of the peace, who travel around primarily in rural areas. They handle minor crimes and small civil cases. Justices of the peace are elected in popular elections. States that do not have justices of the peace have magistrates courts, which are the municipal equivalents of justices of the peace. Most cities in the country have municipal courts. These courts handle all misdemeanor crimes, as well as civil claims totaling thousands of dollars. Most criminal and larger civil cases are tried in general trial courts, otherwise known as district, country, circuit or superior courts. Judges in two thirds of the states are elected, while, in the other states, the judges are appointed by the governor.