The Court System

State Courts

How are state court systems established?

State court systems are created by state constitutions. Many states have three-tiered systems of courts—trial courts, intermediate appellate courts, and supreme courts. Many state trial courts are called circuit or district courts. Intermediate appellate courts are called courts of appeal. Most state final appellate courts are state supreme courts.

Many states also have separate courts for juvenile cases, probate matters (wills and trusts), and family law. Most states also recognize certain smaller courts of limited jurisdiction—often called general sessions courts or common pleas courts.


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