The 3 Different Levels of the State Court

The 3 Different Levels of the State Court

People often wonder what the difference is between state and federal court systems. The primary distinction is that local and state courts hear cases that involve city or state laws. Federal courts, on the other hand, handle cases that involve the violation of federal laws. Read on to learn more about what the state court is and about the different levels of the state court.

State Courts
State Circuit Courts
State Appeals Courts
State Supreme Court

State Circuit Courts

Circuit courts are known by a variety of names: trial courts, common pleas courts, county courts, superior courts, or district courts. Since they have so many different names, their role can get confusing. To put it simply, every state’s circuit courts have jurisdiction over a wide variety of civil and criminal cases on the local level. These courts allow for judge or jury trials and may include specialized courts, which are considered inferior courts.

State Appeals Courts

Simply put, the court of appeals decides on appeals from the circuit courts. The losing party in a circuit court trial has the automatic right to appeal the decision to the state appeals court. An appeal occurs when one of the parties in a trial requests that a higher court revisit the decision on a case. Appeals courts, therefore, do not conduct trials; rather, they just look at the evidence presented in the previous circuit court trial and decide from there. Some smaller states may not have appeals courts, in which case the appeal will head straight for the state supreme court.

State Supreme Court

Every state has a state supreme court, though some states use a different name for it (New York’s highest court, for example, is called the Court of Appeals, while their circuit courts are called the Supreme Court). A party who is dissatisfied with a state supreme court’s decision can appeal no further unless the case involves a constitutional issue or a federal question, in which case the trial could then go to federal court.  

The court systems across the country and in Oregon exist to give citizens the chance to challenge laws they see as unconstitutional and to prove their own innocence. For example, if you think you have been falsely accused of driving under the influence of intoxicants, contact a renowned Beaverton DUII lawyer such as Jared Justice. According to The Conversation, “In some states, as many as 80 to 90 percent of litigants are unrepresented, even though their opponent has a lawyer.” Don’t let this be you—reach out to Jared Justice.