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  • State Court Organization

  • State Court Organization

    U.S. Department of Justice
    Office of Justice Prorams
    Bureau of Justice Statistics

    State Court Organization, 1998

    June 2000

    By David B. Rottman
    Carol R. Flango
    Melissa T. Cantrell
    Randall Hansen
    Neil LaFountain

    Jan M. Chaiken, Ph.D.
    Director, BJS

    This Bureau of Justice Statistics report was prepared by the National Center for State Courts under the Supervision of
    Steven K. Smith and Marika F.X. Litras
    of the Bureau of Justice Statistics. The project was supported by BJS grant
    number 98-BJ-CX-K002. Principle staff
    for the project at the National Center for State Courts were David B. Rottman,
    Ph.D., Carol R. Flango, Melissa T.
    Cantrell, Randall Hansen, and Neil
    LaFountain. Tom Hester and Carol
    DeFrances of BJS provided editorial
    review. Jayne Robinson administered
    final production.

    This report was made possible by the
    support and guidance of the Court
    Statistics Committee of the
    Conference of State Court

    Please bring suggestions for information that should be included in future editions to the attention of the Director of the Court Statistics Project, National Center for State Courts, 300 Newport Avenue,
    Williamsburg, Virginia 23187-8798.

    An electronic version of this report may be found on the Internet at


    This volume like its three predecessors is a product of the court community. The Conference of State Court Administrators sponsors the State Court Organization series and makes available its Court Statistics Committee to guide compilation of each edition. Committee members participated in selecting the contents of the volume, designing the data collection strategy, and volunteered their states for pilot testing of survey instruments. At meetings and through mailing the Committee provided an on-going check on the accuracy and usefulness of the volume's contents. The bulk of the volume and the detailed nature of the contents make the Committee members' contribution above and beyond that which can reasonably be expected, even of members of a committee devoted to court statistics.

    The state court administrators of the 50 states, District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico and their staff, the more than 135 clerks and deputy clerks of appellate courts, and staff from the Administrative Office of the United States Courts were the original source for most information included in the volume. In that capacity, administrators and clerks completed surveys, updated forms, and responded to requests for clarification and elaboration by telephone, fax and email over a twelve-month period. The generosity of their investment of time and effort and the patience with which they endured what must have seemed an endless process of clarification and verification are greatly appreciated.

    Staff from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, and especially Dr. Marika Litras, our project monitor, shared their expertise in survey design and the display of information in print and on the Web. As a result, this edition is easier on the eye and easier to access than were previous editions. The Bureau's funding makes the entire SCO enterprise possible.

    The NCSC's Information Service gave access to its records of recent information requests and offered recommendations in the search for new topics for the 1998 edition. We were also able to rely upon our colleagues in the NCSC Research Division to identify and frame questions to tap emerging trends within the state courts. Particular thanks are due Pamela Casey, Paula Hannaford, Susan Keilitz, Brian Ostrom, Tom Munsterman, Dawn Spinozza, and Karen Way. Lin Walker provided the information on court automation in Table 21 and John Rockwell the information on cameras in the courtroom in Table 37.

    At various stages along the way we also were able to draw upon the talents of other colleagues. We are grateful to Karin Armstrong, Catina Burrell, Tom Carlson, Margaret Fonner, Lynn Grimes, Valerie Hansford, and Pam Petrakis.

    Despite all of this guidance, advice, and assistance, responsibility for the accuracy of all of the contents of this volume rests with the project staff.

    Project Staff

    David B. Rottman
    Project Director

    Melissa T. Cantrell
    Program Specialist
    Heather Conoboy
    Research Assistant

    Carol R. Flango
    Research Associate

    Randall Hansen
    Research Assistant

    Carol Moninger
    Research Analyst

    Neil LaFountain
    Research Analyst

    Neal Kauder

    Conference of State Court Administrators, Court Statistics Commitee

    Hugh M. Collins Chair (1982 to present) Judicial Administrator, Louisiana

    J. Denis Moran, Co-Chair (1983 to present) Director of State Courts, Wisconsin

    John A. Clarke (1988 to present)
    Trial Court Administrator, Essex County, New Jersey

    Howard W. Conyers (1990 to present)
    Administrative Director of the Courts, Oklahoma

    Marc Galanter (1986 to present)
    Evjue-Bascom Professor of Law, University of Wisconsin

    Daniel J. Hall (1990 to present)
    Director of Planning, Colorado

    Mary McQueen (1999 to present)
    State Court Administrator, Washington

    Judge Aaron Ment (1991 to present)
    Chief Court Administrator, Connecticut

    William J. O'Brien (1994 to present)
    State Court Administrator, Iowa

    John T. Olivier (1991 to present)
    Deputy Clerk, Supreme Court of Louisiana

    Howard P. Schwartz (1992 to present)
    Judicial Administrator, Kansas

    Joseph C. Steele (1999 to present)
    State Court Administrator, Nebraska

    Patricia Tobias (1999 to present)
    Administrative Director of the Courts, Idaho

    Robert Wessels (1995 to present)
    Court Manager, Texas

    National Center for State Courts Board of Directors

    Chief Justice E. Norman Veasey, Chair
    Supreme Court of Delaware

    Howard W. Conyers, Vice-Chair
    Administrative Director, Oklahoma

    Chief Justice Gerald W. VandeWalle, Chair-elect Supreme Court of North Dakota

    Judge Roberto A. Arias
    Judge, Duval County Courthouse, Florida

    Byron Attridge
    King & Spalding, Georgia

    Frank Broccolina
    Deputy State Court Administrator, Maryland

    Chief Justice David A. Brock, Past Chair Supreme Court of New Hampshire

    Judge Kevin S. Burke
    Hennepin County District Court, Minnesota

    David K. Byers
    Administrative Director, Supreme Court of Arizona

    Justice William Cousins
    Illinois Appellate Court

    Justice Ann K. Covington
    Supreme Court of Missouri

    Gordon M. Griller
    Court Administrator, Arizona

    Judge William G. Kelly
    U.S. District Court Judge, Michigan
    Jack. B. Middleton
    McLane, Graf, Rauleron & Middleton, New Hampshire

    Chief Judge Thelma Cummings Moore
    Superior Court of Fulton County, Georgia

    Presiding Judge Gayle A. Nachtigal
    Circuit Court of Washington County, Oregon

    Dwight Opperman
    Key Investment, Inc., Minnesota

    Kenneth R. Palmer
    State Court Administrator, Florida

    Louise M. Parent, Exec. Vice-President & General Counsel American Express, New York

    Carroll D. Stevens
    Associate Dean, Yale Law School, Connecticut

    Judge Sandra Ann Thompson
    Los Angeles Municipal Court, California

    Ruth Walsh McIntyre
    Bellevue, Washington

    William C. Vickrey, Past Vice-Chair
    State Court Administrator, California

    Chief Judge Annice M. Wagner
    District of Columbia Court of Appeals

    Roger K. Warren
    President, National Center for State Courts

    Robert Wessels
    Court Manager, Texas

    Courts and judges

    In 1998, there were 208 statewide general and limited jurisdiction trial court systems in the United States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. About 9,065 full time authorized judges served in the 71 statewide trial court systems of general jurisdiction alone.

    • In 1998, there were 132 courts of appeal, including the U.S. Supreme Court and U.S. Courts of Appeal. The combined full-time Federal and State appellate bench in 1998 had a reported 1,474 members. About 75% or 1,108 appellate judges served on intermediate appellate courts.

    Judicial selection and service

    • General jurisdiction trial judges were selected through nonpartisan elections in 18 and through partisan elections in 10 of the 50 States in 1998. In 15 States, general juridiction trial court judges were selected by gubernatorial appointment and in 3 States by appointment by State legislatures. The remaining States varied in their method of selection.
    • General jurisdiction trial court judges must possess a law degree in all but 2 States -- Maine and Massachusetts.
    • Twenty one (42%) of the 50 States selected their appellate judges through a gubernatorial appointment and 3 by legislative appointment in 1998. An additional 14 States used non-partisan elections, 8 partisan elections and 4 retention elections.
    • Initial/pre-bench education for general jurisdiction judges was required in 30 States (including Puerto Rico), for limited jurisdiction judges in 31 States, and in 9 States for appellate judges. Continuing education for general jurisdiction judges was required in 44 States, for limited jurisdiction judges in 42 States, and in 38 States for appellate judges
    • By 1998, 18 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico had formal provisions for an ongoing evaluation of judicial performance.
    • All States had judicial conduct organizations which investigated complaints against members of the judiciary. Most of these organizations were composed of about 5 to 15 members including judges, lawyers and ordinary citizens.

    The judicial branch

    • Every State has a judicial branch which is headed by the court of last resort in 13 States, the Chief Justice of the court of last resort in 36 States, and in one State, Utah, the Judicial Council. In the majority of States (33), the head of the judicial branch is established by the State Constitution. In the remaining States, authority is established either by State statue or some combination of both.
    • In 1998, 20 States had a compensation commission that examined and reported on the salaries of judges. Fourteen of these commissions had broader mandates, also examining and reporting on non-judicial public officials. Six States by 1998 has created commissions specifically for judicial compensation review.
    • In most States the Administrative Office of the Courts prepared the judicial branch budget (33 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico), generally followed by a review of the budget submissions by the State's Court of Last Resort. In most States, the judicial branch budget is either included in a general appropriation bill or included in one of several bills. Only in 14 States is it filed as a separate appropriation bill.
    • On average in 1998, judicial budgets accounted for about 1.5% of State budget appropriations, ranging from 0.1% in Washington to 3.6% in Oregon.
    • In more than 8 in 10 statewide trial courts of general jurisdiction during 1998, judicial salaries were funded totally by State sources. By contrast, in just under half of Statewide trial courts of limited jurisdiction, judicial salaries were funded totally by State sources, about one third by local sources, and the remaining by either county funding sources or some combination of the three.

    State appellate court systems

    • The courts of last resort in the State appellate systems ranged in size from 5 to 9 judges in 1998. A majority of State courts of last resort had 7 members, including the most populous States, California and New York. Iowa, Mississippi, and Washington had 9 Justices.
    • A common State response to increasing appeals is to create an intermediate court of appeals. In 1998, 35 States had 1 intermediate court of appeal (including Puerto Rico), 5 States had 2, while 12 States had no intermediate court of appeal (including the District of Columbia).
    • Appellate courts typically have an appointed clerk of the court. Only in the Supreme Court of Indiana and the regional intermediate appellate courts of Ohio are popular elections used to select appellate court clerks.
    • Appellate courts implement various strategies to make the workload of appellate courts more efficient. Thirty seven States, by 1998, for example, had some expedited briefing procedures in their appellate court systems. Eighteen States had accelerated or special calendars in some courts for specific case types, and all but 12 States had some limitation on oral arguments in criminal and/or civil cases.

    Trial court clerks

    In 1998, there were over 7,500 clerks in state trial courts. Over half of these clerks served in trial courts of limited jurisdiction. Typically, trial court clerks have the responsibility for docketing cases, collecting court fees, overseeing jury selection, and maintaining all court records.

    • Partisan elections were used to select clerks of general jurisdiction trial courts in 27 States and non-partisan elections in an additional 4 States. General jurisdiction trial court clerks were appointed in 19 States, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. In the remaining States, selection of these clerks varied.

    Specialized courts

    There were 327 drug courts across 43 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in 1998. The majority of drug courts were established between 1992 and 1996. During 1998, drug courts were established in Maine and Mississippi.

    By 1998, all but 17 States had family courts that served some number of counties, districts, or were statewide. These courts typically had jurisdiction over domestic and marital matters such as divorce, child custody and support, and domestic violence.

    • There are currently over 450 tribal justice forums among the 556 Federally recognized tribes in the United States. Sixteen States have assumed mandatory or optional jurisdiction over tribal lands, pursuant to Public Law 280.

    Insanity defense

    • A defense of insanity was allowed in 48 of the 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico in 1998.

    Only Idaho and Utah had no insanity defense provision.

    • When determining the defendant's capacity to stand trial, the majority of States require a preponderance of evidence -- the burden of proof typical in a civil trial. Ten States provide for a bifurcated trial where the elements of the crime are decided in one proceeding and the determination of insanity in a separate proceeding.
    • In most States, the defendant carries the burden proof in an insanity defense trial, while the plaintiff carries this burden in 12 States.
    • In 18 States in 1998, post trial treatment was mandatory for all or some defendants.

    The jury

    • In 1998, voter registration was the most common source, though not the only source, used by States to create a master list of potential jurors. Other sources included motor vehicle registration, telephone directories, and tax rolls.
    • In most States, the minimum age to serve on a jury was 18. The minimum age in Missouri and Montana, however, was 21 years of age. There was some residency requirement to serve on a jury in all States, and literacy and/or language requirements in all but 8 States.
    • In 8 States employers were responsible, at least partially, for maintaining the salaries of employees while on jury duty. Daily fees paid to serving jurors ranged from $2.00 to $50.00 in 1998.
    • Grand jury indictments for all felony prosecutions were required in 14 States and in an additional 4 States for capital and/or life imprisonment cases. The size of grand juries ranged from 6 members in Indiana to 23 members in Maryland and Massachusetts.

    The sentencing context

    • In non-capital felony cases, original sentences were set by a jury in 46 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and by a judge in 6 States. The judge can alter the jury sentence or recommendation in 4 States -- Arkansas, Indiana, Kentucky and Missouri.
    • Of the 37 States with the death penalty in capital felony cases during 1998, original sentences were set by a jury in 23 States, by a judge in 5 States, and by a judge with the recommendation of the jury in 7 States. In Missouri and New Mexico either a jury or a judge may impose a sentence of death. In all States where the sentence was set by a jury, the decision must be unanimous. If the jury cannot reach an agreement, life without parole is available in 12 States. A judge can alter a jury sentence of death in 12 States.
    • Some type of intermediate sanctions were available in all 50 States, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Intensive probation and/or work release was available in 47 States and Puerto Rico, house arrest and/or electronic monitoring in 48 States and the District of Columbia, and shock incarceration in 30 States.
    • By 1998, active sentencing commissions had been established in 17 States. All but 1, South Carolina, had sentencing guidelines. In most States these guidelines were mandatory with room for justified deviations.
    • In 1998 collateral consequences for felony convictions were in place in all States. In most States, a felony conviction was associated with the restriction of voting rights, parental rights, public employment, jury duty service, and firearm ownership

    What is the purpose of the volume?

    This volume, the fourth edition in a series, describes the highly diverse world of the state courts as of July 1, 1998, while also providing some corresponding information on the federal courts. Information distributed across 50 tables details the main features of how courts operate, ranging from the names of the various courts established in each state to whether jury verdicts must be unanimous to convict in criminal cases or to decide on liability in civil matters. Such fundamental matters vary from state to state, and between the state courts and the federal system--there is no single, uniform court system in the United States.

    One reason, then, for compiling the State Court Organization series (previous editions refer to court organization in 1980, 1987, and 1993) is to provide answers in a single volume to fundamental questions about what each state's court system looks like: How many appellate and trial courts have been established? What specific categories of cases does each court have the jurisdiction to decide?

    A second purpose for compiling State Court Organization is to permit comparative examination of how courts are organized. Information on how court administration and procedure are organized assists states in effecting change by identifying options and specific examples for their consideration.

    Most states have two appellate courts and at least two trial courts, but differ in such basics as where jurisdiction over juvenile cases is found and whether civil appeals are heard as a matter of right or at the discretion of the reviewing appellate court. The essential point is that these matters are not standardized across the United States. The federal system and individual states have evolved, knocking against one another from time to time in ways that lead to some shared tendencies, but no uniformity. To a limited extent, the federal court system offers a prototype that states can follow. This edition of State Court Organization encourages and facilitates examination of federal and state approaches to court administration, procedures, and rules.

    There is still much about state courts that continues to be rooted in geographical areas within states, defined by counties, townships, cities, or other forms of local government. The more important points of variations within states are noted, such as methods for judicial selection, sometimes in the table proper but more often through the use of footnotes in the tables.

    A third purpose for this volume is to address noteworthy features of statutes and policy that affect how the courts function. In this edition, emphasis is placed upon the sentencing context: the provisions of state constitutions, statutes, and court rules that govern how sentences are imposed and reviewed on appeal. This encompasses options provided for sentencing. "What is the most serious penalty other than the death penalty?" What specific sentencing provisions exist for "habitual offenders"? What is the array of intermediate sanctions that judges (and in some states, juries) can impose? Other features of the sentencing process considered include the presence of sentencing guidelines, the jurisdiction of each trial court to sentence felons, and the manner in which sentences, once imposed, can be reviewed. Parole or "good time" provisions that affect sentence length are also outlined.

    Another topic given emphasis is how the judicial branch is governed. Who is the head of the judicial branch? What official or institution formulates and submits the budget for operating the courts? What items of trial court expenditure are funded by the state and which are financed either by local government or from court fees? What is the rule-making authority of state courts of last resort? What use is made of judicial councils and conferences in setting policy for the courts? At the level of individual trial courts is the clerk of court, an independently elected official or an appointee of the bench? What is the formal relationship between the clerk of court and the trial court administrator? What is the authority of presiding or administrative judges? The advent of professional trial court managers-administrators, clerks, and judges who view much of their role as managerial--is one of the more significant waves of change that buffeted the nation's courts in recent decades. The governance of the judicial branch is becoming a more substantial undertaking that merits close description.

    Yet another emphasis is on the jury. The role of the grand jury has generally diminished in the initiation of felony court cases, but the institution retains considerable significance in some states. Trial court juries retain their importance in both civil and criminal matters, but juries have changed in how they are selected and in their size and verdict rules. Does a jury need to be unanimous, or can a verdict be returned by a majority of the jurors? A 12-person jury required to reach a unanimous verdict is no longer typical. The U.S. Supreme Court, in a series of opinions during the 1960s, relaxed requirements that verdicts be unanimous and rendered by 12-person juries. Today, there is marked variation among states and also, within many states by the type of case (felony versus misdemeanor, for example). The main dynamic today is in efforts to enhance the representativeness of jury pools and ease the burdens associated with jury service. This is reflected in changes to the source lists from which the jury pool is drawn, the elimination of occupational exemptions, and improved levels of juror fees. Which states have eliminated occupational exemptions from jury service? What obligations do employers have to pay the regular salaries of employees who serve on juries?

    New topics covered in this volume include the proliferation of specialized courts, new legislative mandates in the adjudication of domestic violence cases, current standards regarding the insanity defense, and efforts in automating court information systems. To support the three purposes just described, State Court Organization 1998 expands the coverage of court administration and court procedure by introducing four new tables. New topics include judicial compensation commissions, clerks of court responsibilities for providing services to appellate courts, the authority of trial court administrative judges, and standards and procedures governing the use of the insanity defense in criminal cases. In addition, the format for reporting on automation in the courts has been completely revised.

    A fourth purpose for compiling this volume is to provide authoritative base-line information through which important changes in the nation's courts can be tracked. The 1998 edition of State Court Organization gives particular attention to the growing importance of specialized state court forums. Special forums are divisions, dockets, courtrooms or procedures dedicated to a designated set of cases and to which a specific judge has been assigned by a court's presiding or chief judge. Such forums typically are created through local court rules or custom, and carry the label of "court" as a matter of convenience. Information is included on two such forums: drug courts and family courts. Special provisions for processing domestic violence cases are also described. Finally, three topics included in the 1993 edition have been omitted from the new edition: state/federal judicial councils, the characteristics of "RICO" statutes, and the making of the trial court record. The latter topic will be covered in future editions of the State Court Organization series.

    A truly comprehensive volume on the nation's courts would include the military criminal justice system because U.S. military personnel worldwide are subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Appellate courts have narrowed the jurisdiction of military courts to "service-connected " offenses, but some potential for overlap with the state and federal courts remains. Individual commands operate their own trial courts, convened as needed. The Court of Military Appeals in Washington D.C. is the one standing court. The U.S. Congress provided, in 1984, for appeals from the Court

    of Military Appeals to the U.S. Supreme Court via a writ of certiorari (R.C.M. 1205).

    How should the volume be used?

    The 1998 edition of State Court Organization contains 397 items of information (up from 344 items in 1993) spread across 50 tables. These tables are divided into seven parts according to broad topical areas:

    Part I: Courts and Judges
    Part II: Judicial Selection and Terms

    Part III: The Judicial Branch: Governance, Funding, and Administration
    Part IV: Appellate Courts: Jurisdiction, Staffing, and Procedures
    Part V: Trial Court Administration and Procedures

    Part VI: The Jury
    Part VII: The Sentencing Context

    An eighth part contains a one page court structure chart for each state, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia. The charts complement the information provided in the tables by depicting for each state the essential structure of its court system in terms of subject matter jurisdiction and routes of appellate review.

    Each part begins with a brief explanatory note. A bibliography of sources used in the data collection or that cover subject matter particularly relevant to the topic under consideration is offered The introductions indicate why the information provided in a section is important to understand the nation's courts and how that information relates to the contents of other parts. Another objective is to highlight some of the factors that affect compara- bility across states, and between the state and federal systems, for the specific subject area being considered.

    Two kinds of tables are presented. One is formatted to describe what is defined at the state level, such as the juror source lists, definitions of a felony offense, the functions of administrative offices of the courts, and other aspects of court organization that apply to all appellate or trial courts within a state.

    The second kind of table reports on features that differ from court to court within a state, such as the number of judges, or procedures for selecting a presiding judge. The "court" in trial court generally applies to a statewide court system- -for example, the Circuit Court of Virginia is divided into 31 circuits each serving a specific geographical area. Some trial courts, though, include an entire state within their geographic jurisdiction, as in the Tax Court of New Jersey. Appellate courts are more typically statewide in their jurisdiction, but intermediate appellate courts are established on a regional basis in

    Arizona, California, Florida, Illinois, Indiana, Louisiana, Missouri, New York, Ohio, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Texas, Washington, and Wisconsin. In these states, intermediate appellate courts may establish rules and procedures that vary between regions (usually called a district or division). A few states have multiple intermediate appellate courts (Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee) and two states--Oklahoma and Texas--have two courts of last resort.

    Some tables contain extensive footnotes. Footnotes appear in tables that cover topics for which a simple answer was deemed unhelpful, and consideration of the footnote's content is necessary to make comparisons across states or to grasp fully the nature of the arrangements that pertain in individual states.

    A general cautionary statement is offered here. This volume covers an unusually diverse set of topics. There is no single state authority that maintains current and complete information on each topic. Therefore several sources were contacted in each state and extensive searches were undertaken of court rules and state statutes.

    How was the volume compiled?

    The contents for this edition were selected and the relevant data collected through the following main steps.

    The first step was a project staff review of contents from previous State Court Organization editions. In the course of that review in March of 1998 all members of the Conference of State Court Administrators were asked in a survey to express their opinions on the merits of the usefulness of all individual information items published in State Court Organization 1993 and to nominate additional topics that could usefully be included in the new edition. Some information items were judged to be essential for the continuity of the series, new information was identified to keep pace with the changing shape and interests of the court community, and still other information items were found to be of limited contemporary interest. These decisions were made in consultation with other National Center for State Court staff members, organizations such as the Federal Judicial Center, and relevant academic and research experts in courtrelated topics. Staff from the Bureau of Justice Statistics also participated in the review process.

    A tentative list of information contents was compiled by project staff and then reviewed in detail by the members of the Conference of State Court Administrator's Court Statistics Committee. At a subsequent meeting, the Committee members reviewed the data collection design and drafts of data collection instruments.

    The chosen information items were divided according to the most reliable and cost-effective data collection method. Those methods were:

    1. A survey of administrative offices of the court was designed for distribution by mail to the state court administrators of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Administrative Office of the Courts. The questionnaire, which was mailed on December 4, 1998, dealt with aspects of court organization that are primarily administrative in nature and either new to the 1998 edition or likely to have changed significantly since 1993. The questionnaire used a different format than the one developed for the 1993 version with help from Bureau of Justice Statistics staff. Various versions of the new survey were pilot-tested through the cooperation of states represented on the Court Statistics Committee. All the surveys were completed and returned.
    2. A similar survey relating to information concerning appellate courts was designed to collect new or changeable descriptive information on courts of last resort and intermediate appellate courts. Approximately 150 surveys were mailed on January 14, 1999 and were completed and returned.
    3. A third survey form was developed to update information items carried over from the last edition and judged unlikely to have changed significantly over the previous five years. Respondents were presented with the question at issue, the response given in the 1993 edition, and with a request to update the information to the situation as of July 1, 1998. Separate update surveys were prepared for administrative offices of the courts and appellate court clerks.
    4. Protocols were developed to conduct statute and rule searches that would compile tables of information on specific laws, legal procedure and legal practices that applied statewide. Searches were the primary source of data about juries and sentencing.

    Figure 1 indicates the primary data collection methods for each table of information.

    Upon return, surveys were reviewed for completeness and clarity by project staff. Telephone calls and Fax messages were used to ensure that accurate and comparable information was available from all survey respondents. Once screened, survey contents were entered into an SPSS database. Information collected through update surveys and through statute and rule searches were entered in table form as Microsoft Word documents.

    The main step in the verification process was to return all tables completed through surveys, or update forms, back to the original respondent in June of 1999. This provided a second check on the information, often by a second person, and also served as a check on the accuracy of any revisions made by project staff to maximize comparability across states and courts. All tables compiled through statute or rule searches also were sent to the state court administrator and, as appropriate, to the appellate court clerk with a request that the contents be examined and modified or corrected as necessary. Verification often involved a series of iterations passed back and forth between project staff and the administrative office of the courts or appellate court clerk. Also, tables of information on various topics were sent for review to relevant national experts.

    It should be noted that even after such an extensive data collection and data verification process, room for ambiguity remains. This is inevitable in any best faith effort to collect comparable information on multiple topics for which no individual or office can claim to be a definitive authority. Some leading authorities on specific topics were consulted, notably Tom Munsterman on juries and Roger Hanson and Teb Marvel on appellate courts, as an additional check on the accuracy and comparability of information.

    The result is a reference source that roams widely through the world of trial and appellate courts and of state court administration. There are some obvious limitations. Provisions and procedures that relate to criminal cases receive more attention than those concerning civil dockets. The focus, moreover, is on statewide (or national for the federal courts) court organization. Within states and within the federal court system there is significant variation by locality that is beyond the scope of this volume to describe. Finally, State Court Organization is a companion series to the series of annual State Court Caseload Statistics reports, prepared by the Court Statistics Project of the National Center for State Courts.

    Part 1: Courts and judges

    Coming to grips with the number and variety of courts is the essential starting point for anyone interested in court organization. The fundamental distinction is between trial courts, which are courts of first instance that decide a dispute by examining the facts, and appellate courts, which review the trial court's application of law to those facts.

    How many appellate courts have been established in the United States? Table 1 provides the answer. There are two basic kinds of appellate courts. Courts of last resort (COLR) have final jurisdiction over appeals. Each state has a COLR. Oklahoma and Texas split final appellate review between separate civil and criminal COLRs. Intermediate appellate courts (IAC) hear initial appeals, the outcome of which is subject to further review by the state's COLR. Courts of last resort typically were established in the state's constitution and sit in one location, the state capital. Intermediate appellate courts, a more contemporary institution, have multiple locations in 21 states. In 10 states, each location serves a region within the state and has its own chief judge and a permanently assigned complement of judges. Other state appellate courts travel en banc to various locations, while still other courts travel in smaller panels. How many judges are authorized to serve and were actually serving, as of July 1, 1998, on each court? The number of appellate judgeships, authorized and serving, for the state and federal courts is shown in Table 2. The combined full-time federal and state appellate bench has 1,474 members. Most appellate judges serve on intermediate appellate courts (1,108).

    The allocation of judgeships to appellate courts illustrates the divergence between the federal and state courts, as well as state court diversity. All COLRs are established with an odd number of justices, in contrast to the structure of the jury as a decision-making institution, which usually entails an even number of jurors. This follows the federal model. However, state COLRs have fewer justices than the U.S. Supreme Court. The most common arrangement is a seven judge COLR, found in 27 states and Puerto Rico. Five justices serve on COLRs in 18 state courts, including the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. Seven courts, including both Texas COLRs and the Oklahoma Supreme Court (Civil COLR), follow the federal nine-justice model (as does the District of Columbia).

    Intermediate appellate courts often undertake review through panels of three or more judges rather than by the full court sitting en banc. California has the largest state IAC, with 93 authorized judgeships. This court is divided into nine divisions. There are 179 authorized judgeships for the 13 circuits of the U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal. Three judge IACs are found in Alabama (Court of Civil Appeals), Alaska, Hawaii, and Idaho.

    Trial courts are listed state by state in Table 3, distinguishing between courts of general jurisdiction (GJ) and courts of limited (or special) jurisdiction (LJ). General jurisdiction trial courts are always the highest trial court in a state where felony criminal cases and high stakes civil suits are adjudicated. They often exercise some form of appellate review over outcomes in limited jurisdiction courts or decisions by administrative agencies, exercising what is termed incidental appellate jurisdiction .

    A limited jurisdiction trial court, one or more of which is to be found in all but five states and the District of Columbia, typically holds preliminary hearings in felony cases and typically has jurisdiction over misdemeanor and ordinance violation cases (Table 45 details the jurisdiction over felony cases by courts of limited jurisdiction). Civil jurisdiction is restricted to a fixed maximum amount, and typically includes a separate category of small claims cases for which simplified procedures are established. Juvenile, domestic relations, and drug cases are typically heard in a court of general jurisdiction, however, there is a trend to create special courts reserved for special dockets for these case types. See Table 33 and 34 detailing the use of family and drug courts.

    Table 3 also indicates the number of judges authorized for and serving on each trial court statewide. Some courts use part-time or senior judges to help with caseloads, the resulting judicial power is therefore expressed as full-time equivalent positions. Courts typically also make use of quasi-judicial staff to hear cases as referees, commissioners, or hearing officers. Quasi-judicial officers are usually appointed by the trial bench for a fixed period of time and can be dismissed by that bench. General jurisdiction trial courts are usually divided into circuits or districts. In some states (e.g., California) the county serves as the judicial district. Most states, however, construct judicial districts that embrace a number of counties. Limited jurisdiction trial courts vary in whether they possess jurisdiction across a county or serve a specific local government unit, such as a city or village. Jurisdiction beyond a specific county is rare; exceptions are for those courts with special jurisdiction that applies statewide (water courts and workers' compensation courts are examples).

    The information contained in this section is basic because there is no generic court system in the United States. Even the nomenclature varies. Supreme Courts are usually courts of last resort, but in New York the designation "supreme" is assigned to the main trial court, while The Court of Appeals is the state's court of last resort. Justices and a Chief Justice usually serve on courts of last resort, but a number of COLRs have judges and a chief judge. Judge is the standard title for those serving on intermediate appellate courts.

    The closest to a generic form of court structure in the United States is a court system with two appellate courts, one a court of last resort and one an intermediate appellate court, and two or more trial courts. But many states, and the federal courts, do not neatly fit that pattern, and even those states that do add diversity in how the allocation of subject matter jurisdiction to courts is made, how appellate review is designated as being on a mandatory (appeal of right) or discretionary (through a petition) basis, and in the use made of quasi-judicial officers.

    Select Bibliography:

    Carl Baar, One Trial Court: Possibilities and Limitations, Ottawa: Canadian Judicial Council, 1991.

    Howard Ball, "The Federal Court System," Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System, Vol. II, R. Janosik (Ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's, 1987.

    Marie T. Finn (Ed.) The American Bench: Judges of the Nation, Ninth Edition 1997/98, Sacramento: Forster-Long, 1993 [includes maps of federal and state judicial boundaries].

    Henry Glick, "State Court Systems," Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System, Vol. II, R. Janosik (Ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's, 1987.

    Erick B. Low, "Accessing the Judicial System: The State's Response," The Book of the States, 1994-95 Edition, Vol. 30. Lexington, KY: The Council of State Governments.

    Part II: Judicial selection and service

    How judges are selected and their terms of service on the bench differ sharply between the federal and state courts, and the differences among states are often nearly as significant. All federal judges are nominated by the President and serve "during good behavior" once confirmed by the U.S. Senate unless they resign or are impeached and convicted by the U.S. Congress. State court judges are likely to face an election as a part of their selection process and to serve fixed terms, which for COLR justices range between six and 14 years (15 years in the District of Columbia).

    Only Rhode Island offers appellate judges lifetime appointments, while the judges of the New Hampshire and Massachusetts Supreme Courts serve
    until age 70.

    Judicial selection occurs for three purposes in the state courts: to fill an unexpired term upon the retirement, resignation, or death of an incumbent
    judge; to select for a full term (often referred to as the initial selection); and at the end of a term. Table 4 describes the various ways in which
    appellate justices and judges are selected, while Table 7 describes procedures for selecting trial court judges. The resulting national picture can be
    summarized by reference to the nature of the selection process for general jurisdiction judges shown below.***Footnote 1: American Bar Association, Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on Lawyers' Political Contributions: Part Two. Washington, DC: ABA, 1998.***

    Initial Term
    Appointment: 648 (52.1%)
    Partisan Election: 421 (33.9%)
    Non-partisan Election: 174 (14.0%)

    Subsequent Terms
    Appointment: 199 (16.4%)
    Partisan Election: 326 (26.7%)
    Non-partisan Election: 174 (14.3%)
    Retention Elections Only: 518 (42.6%)

    One marker for examining the diverse selection methods adopted by the states is the "Missouri Plan." In 1940 the State of Missouri amended its constitution to establish a statewide nominating committee for appellate judgeships and circuit-level commissions for general jurisdiction trial court judgeships. A judge, representatives of the state bar association, and nonlawyers appointed by the governor make up the commissions. The governor must appoint one of a commission's three nominees to fill a vacancy. The new appointee then faces a retention election in one year's time, running against his or her own record, and then further retention elections at 12-year intervals. Thirty-nine states use some form of judicial nominating commission in judicial selection, which became popular in the 1970s although only 16 combine such a commission with retention elections on the Missouri model.

    All appellate courts and most trial courts have a chief judge. Table 4 explains how chief justices and chief judges of COLRs and IACs are selected in each state. The length of their term in office and whether they can succeed themselves can be found in Table 5. How trial court chief judges (sometimes styled presiding judges) are selected is also detailed in Table 5. The judges in a district or circuit typically select one of their peers to serve as the chief judge for a fixed number of years, but the appointment may be made at the state level by the governor, Chief Justice of the COLR, or the COLR collectively. In some instances a specific individual is elected or appointed as the chief judge and holds that title throughout his or her tenure. In other trial courts, seniority establishes who is the chief judge.

    Qualifications for service as a judge are stated in the constitutions and statutes of the various states. Tables 6 and 8 indicate the qualifications in terms of residency, age, and legal credentials that are mandated for appellate and trial court judgeships, respectively. In addition to specifying the legal credentials, if any, necessary to qualify for judicial selection, many states require judges to participate in some form of legal education beyond the Continuing Legal Education expected of all members of the state bar. Mandatory judicial education is accomplished through a wide range of judicial branch and private entities and is paid for by a variety of funding sources.

    Eighteen states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the Navajo Nation make formal provisions for an ongoing evaluation of judicial performance. States with retention elections for judges are the most likely to evaluate performance, but states with nonpartisan elections do so as well (Michigan, Minnesota, and Tennessee), as do many with a system of judicial appointments (Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, and Vermont). Table 11 indicates for these and other states with performance evaluation structures the implementing authority, the body responsible for operating the program, the evaluation procedures, the evaluating committee duties, and evaluation committee membership.

    Formal judicial discipline is accomplished through regional judicial councils in the federal system (under The Judicial Councils Reform and Judicial Conduct and Disability Act of 1980). The Councils investigate complaints of any "conduct prejudicial to the effective and expeditious administration of the business of the courts." However, the Councils' disciplinary powers stop short of removal from office. Removal is the sole prerogative of the U.S. Congress. A Council can certify a finding that impeachment is warranted to the U.S. House of Representatives.

    Judicial conduct organizations are the main arbiters of what constitutes judicial misconduct and disability in the states. Conduct organizations investigate complaints against members of the judiciary, and typically include a mix of judges, lawyers, and ordinary citizens. The adjudicatory function is usually exercised by the COLR, although sometimes the original conduct organization both investigates and adjudicates complaints. In such instances there is a right of appeal to the state's COLR. The name and composition of the states' conduct organizations are shown in Table 12. The table also indicates which court or other entity adjudicates complaints, hears appeals, has final disciplinary authority, and at what point reprimands are made public.

    Select Bibliography:

    American Bar Association, Report and Recommendations of the Task Force on Lawyers' Political Contributions: Part Two. Washington, DC: ABA, 1998.

    Philip J. Dubois, From Ballot to Bench: Judicial Elections and the Quest for Accountability. Austin, TX: University of Texas Press, 1980.

    Doris Marie Provine, Judging Credentials: Nonlawyer Judges and the Politics of Professionalism, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986.

    Judith Rosenbaum, Practices and Procedures of State Judicial Conduct Organizations, Chicago: American Judicature Society, 1990.

    Lyle Warrick, Judicial Selection in the United States: A Compendium of Provisions, Second Edition, Chicago: American Judicature Society, 1993.

    Mary Volcansek, Judicial Impeachment: None Called for Justice, Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1993 [offers a general historical account, but focuses on federal impeachment proceedings during the 1980s and its relationship to judicial discipline in the federal court system].

    Table 11:
    Susan Keilitz and Judith White McBride, "Revised Chart for 'Judicial Performance Evaluation Comes of Age,' " State Court Journal Vol. 16, No. 3, Summer, 1992. [Supporting text can be found in the State Court Journal, Vol. 16, No. 1, Winter, 1992.

    Part III: The judicial branch: governance, funding, and administration

    Each state, like the federal government, has an independent judicial branch. Generally, either the Court of Last Resort (13 states) or the Chief Justice of the Court of Last Resort (36 states) is the designated head of the judicial branch. In one state, Utah, the Judicial Council is the designated head.

    The formulation of rules for court procedure is basic to the governance of the judicial branch. Table 14 indicates whether the COLR has rule-making authority for some key procedural areas, and also whether that authority stems from the state constitution, statute law, or is an inherent power of the courts as an independent branch of government. Where statute law is the source of authority, the state legislature has delegated rule-making authority to the COLR. The table also indicates where rule-making is the preserve of the legislative branch. The specific areas covered in Table 14 are appellate procedure, civil procedure, criminal procedure, attorney discipline, court costs, judicial discipline, appellate administrative rules, and trial court administrative rules.

    The federal judicial branch and many state judicial branches incorporate councils or conferences in either a policy-making or advisory capacity. Table 15 lists the relevant bodies by name and cites their purpose, composition, frequency of meeting, and tenure of membership. Notable characteristics include the presence of non-judges as members and the source of the authority for the council or conference's role. Most councils or conferences were established by statute, but several are explicitly established in the state constitution, and still others by a COLR rule.

    Twenty states have a compensation commission that examines and reports on the salaries of judges. Fourteen of these commissions have broader mandates, also examining and reporting on non-judicial public officials. Six states have created commissions specifically for judicial compensation review. Table 16 identifies each commission's authorization, year established, scope of authority, membership, meeting schedule, reporting structure, and the effect of its recommendations.

    Preparation of the judicial branch budget is explained in Table 17. In most states the Administrative Office of the Courts prepares the judicial branch budget (33 states, D.C., and Puerto Rico), generally followed by a review of budget submissions by the state's COLR. The situation in many states is complex, and this is reflected in the number of footnotes appended to the table. Table 17 focuses on the role of the executive branch in submitting and possibly amending the judicial branch budget. It is rare for the judicial branch budget to be filed as a separate appropriation bill (14 states). In most states it is either included in a general appropriation bill or included in one of several bills. Finally, the table provides an estimate of the percentage of the total state budget accounted for by the judicial branch in each state.

    The coverage of state funding varies substantially among states, especially in reference to trial court expenditures. Table 18 lists 17 expenditure areas for each trial court system in a state and explains whether the source of funding is state, county, other local government, or fees. Each court system is identified as being either a court of general jurisdiction or a court of limited jurisdiction. Some types of expenditures are funded through several sources. Where state funding is applicable, the table shows the percentage that is provided from that source. The last column of the table indicates the total amount of state funding provided for each trial court and the percentage of total expenditure that is provided by the state. In using this table it should be noted that it refers only to the funding of trial courts, and is therefore not directly comparable to the information in Table 17, which describes the entire judicial branch budget. Table 18 does highlight some important differences in the scope of state judicial branches, specifically whether they encompass functions such as child support enforcement, juvenile probation and detention, or indigent defense. Such differences in scope, along with differences in which expenditures are state funded and which are locally funded or fee supported, explain to a substantial extent, differences in the magnitude of the judicial branch budget.

    Every state has a central office that has day to day administrative responsibilities for the state courts. The head of that office, the state court administrator, is usually an appointee of the state judiciary, with the chief justice or the COLR exercising the appointment authority. The administrative office's role in the budget process was described in Table 17. A more comprehensive description of what administrative offices do is provided in Tables 19 and 20, which indicate the nature of the responsibility of the administrative office for 21 functional areas relating to a state's appellate courts and 22 functional areas relating to a state's trial courts. Where the administrative office has total or partial responsibility for a functional area, the number of full-time equivalent staff assigned to that function is given. The last column of the table reports the number of authorized and funded staff in the administrative office, expressed as full-time equivalent positions. The size of the administrative office staff reflects both the degree to which there is centralized coordination of key functions and the allocation of some substantial responsibilities, such as juvenile probation, to the administrative office of the courts.

    More courts are taking advantage of technology to automate their information systems. Most states have a uniform case management system at the appellate level. Table 21 indicates which courts within each state have a uniform case management system and who is responsible for that system. The table also identifies who created the software, who maintains the software, and what type of platform the application runs on.

    Select Bibliography:

    American Bar Association (Judicial Administration Division), Standards Relating to Court Organization: 1990 Edition, Chicago: The ABA Press, 1990.

    Larry Berkson and Susan Carbon, Court Unification: History, Politics and Implementation, Washington D.C.: National Institute of Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice, 1978.

    Thomas Henderson, et al., The Significance of Judicial Structure: The Effect of Unification on Trial Court Operations, Washington D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 1984.

    Victor E. Flango and Brian J. Ostrom, Assessing the Need for Judges and Court Support Staff, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1996.

    Robert G. Nieland, Rachel N. Doan (revised by Mayo H. Stiegler), State Court Administrative Offices: Second Edition, Chicago: American Judicature Society, 1982.

    Felix F. Stumpf, Inherent Powers of the Courts, Reno, NV: National Judicial College, 1994.

    Table 14:
    Donald Pugh, Chris A. Korbakes, James J. Alfini, Charles W. Grau, Judicial Rulemaking: A Compendium, Chicago: American Judicature Society, 1984.
    Table 20:
    Lin Walker, "Survey on State Court Automation in 1998," NCSC Working Report, 1998.

    Part IV: Appellate courts: Jurisdiction, staffing, and procedures

    Appellate courts do not decide questions of guilt and innocence in criminal cases or liability in civil cases; nor do they ensure that each trial court proceeding was perfect. Appellate courts instead review selected issues concerning the conduct and results of a trial and decide if errors were committed. However, in the course of focusing on specific issues, appellate courts may create broad public policies.

    Table 1 lists the names of all appellate courts established in a state, gives the number of locations at which those appellate courts hold sessions, and indicates whether each court has separate administrative rules and a chief justice or chief judge. Appellate court systems vary greatly in structure, jurisdiction, and method of judicial selection. Tables in this section describe 53 appellate systems, each with its own court of last resort: the fifty states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the federal system. The courts of last resort in these systems range in size from five to nine judges. A majority of state courts of last resort (COLRs) have seven members, including those in the most populous states (e.g., California, New York). The U. S. Supreme Court and a few state supreme courts have nine Justices (e.g., Iowa, Mississippi, Washington). Texas and Oklahoma depart from the national pattern by establishing two courts of last resort: one for civil cases and one for criminal cases.

    A common state response to increasing appeals is to create an intermediate court of appeals (IAC). In 11 states, the intermediate appellate court is similar in size to the court of last resort. In 29 states, the intermediate appellate courts have more than nine members and as many as 93 (California) authorized Judges who serve on panels within geographically based districts. In Alabama, New York, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee there is more than one IAC.

    While it is accepted that all losing litigants have the opportunity as a matter of right to a review in an appellate court, it is also believed that one review is sufficient to protect a litigant's interest in an error-free trial proceeding. The division of responsibility between COLR and IAC rests on the premise that all appellate work can be sorted into the two categories of error correcting and lawmaking. In performing its lawmaking responsibility, a court of last resort chooses the cases it will consider and decide from among the petitions filed with it. Cases that are further appealed to the court of last resort are likely to be more complex, and to have broader policy implications beyond the interests of the parties. Error correcting is assigned to IACs, which receive appeals directly from trial courts and typically have no discretion to decline to decide a case. Table 23 indicates, for each appellate court with discretionary jurisdiction, who makes the decision to grant a petition -- the court en banc, a panel, a commissioner, or a single justice. The number of justices needed to make a decision on the size of the reviewing panel and its structure is also described in that table.

    In most states, appeals of trial court and administrative agency decisions reach IACs as a matter of right (that is, the court has broad mandatory jurisdiction over such appeals. Litigants may appeal their case further to the court of last resort, although courts of last resort in states with an IAC, have discretionary jurisdiction to reject the litigant's petition without further review. Each state's substantive law also has an impact on the route appeals take. For example, appeals in death-penalty cases are taken directly from the trial courts to courts of last resort, except in those states (Alabama, Ohio, Tennessee) where death penalty appeals go directly to the intermediate appellate court. Table 22 describes the allocation of mandatory and discretionary jurisdiction for eight types of appeals. Table 29 indicates which courts review administrative agency decisions in each state. Trial courts exercising what is termed their incidental appellate jurisdiction sometimes undertake agency review.

    The manner in which appellate courts do their work continues to evolve. Several tables in this section describe how appellate courts have streamlined the appellate process. Table 26 on expedited procedures consider five ways to speed the appeal process: Preargument settlement conferences, advanced queues, expedited briefs, substitution of oral argument for full written briefs, and submission on briefs alone. Table 27 lists the states that have adopted special calendars and the case types to which they apply. Restriction on oral argument for routine cases is another way appellate courts use their resources more efficiently. Table 28 indicates whether oral argument is restricted, whether it is restricted for civil or criminal appeals, and who decides on the appeals to which the restriction applies.

    Finally, there are several tables that report on appellate court staff. Table 24 provides details on the designated clerk of court, the number of clerks, their selection method, their terms of office and specified qualifications. (Only the supreme courts of Indiana, Montana, and the 12 regional IACs in Ohio hold popular elections when selecting clerks).

    The respective responsibility of the clerk's office and the administrative office of the courts for 21 functional areas is stated in table 19. This table is new to State Court Organization, 1998 and shows the extent of responsibility for each function and the number of full time equivalent staff used for each function.

    Law clerks provide direct support to appellate justices and judges, or to the court in general, through a central legal staff. Recent studies have established the importance of appellate court staff in accounting for variation in court processing time in intermediate appellate courts.***Footnote 1: Roger A. Hanson, Time on Appeal, Williamsburg, VA.: National Center for State Courts, 1996.*** The number of law clerks for each justice and the number of central law staff are found on Table 25.

    Appellate practice is a complex area, and the information presented here is offered as a basic guide that provides the framework to undertake more detailed examination of procedural innovations in the appellate courts. The bibliography that follows lists sources where detailed information on appellate procedures can be found.

    Select Bibliography

    Joy Chapper and Roger Hanson, Intermediate Appellate Courts: Improving Case Processing, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1990.

    Carol R. Flango and David B. Rottman, Appellate Court Procedures, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1998.

    Victor E. Flango and Carol R. Flango, A Taxonomy of Appellate Court Organization, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, July 1997.

    Roger A. Hanson, Appellate Court Performance Standards, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1995.

    Roger A. Hanson, Time on Appeal, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1996.

    Robert A. Leflar, Internal Operating Procedures of Appellate Courts, Chicago, 1976.

    Daniel J. Meador, Maurice Rosenberg, and Paul D. Carrington, Appellate Courts: Structures, Functions, Processes, and Personnel, Charlottesville, VA: The Michie Company, 1994.

    Robert L. Stern, Appellate Practice in the United States: Second Edition, Washington, D.C. The Bureau of National Affairs, 1989.

    Part V: Trial court administration, procedures, and specialized jurisdiction

    One defining feature of state trial court systems is the distribution of subject matter jurisdiction among courts. The pattern followed in a state and the differences among states are most readily considered through use of the court structure charts found in Part VIII.

    Trial court administration generally involves judges, clerks of court, and trial court administrators with managerial responsibility. Although clerks of court and trial court administrators handle most administrative tasks, trial courts typically designate one judge or a group of judges to make administrative decisions. Typically he/she is called the presiding, chief, administrative, or president judge. Table 30 outlines the various responsibilities that each court assigns to these judges.

    The information on the selection and responsibilities of clerks of court can be found in Table 31 and for trial court administrators in Table 32. In some trial court systems, the same official is both administrator and clerk.

    A clerk of court typically has responsibility for docketing cases, collecting court fees, overseeing jury selection, and maintaining all court records. In whole or in part, these vital administrative tasks are the responsibility of an elected, autonomous official in most states. Partisan elections are used to select clerks of general jurisdiction courts in 27 states and non-partisan elections in a further four states. Clerks of court are appointed in 19 states, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia, usually by the chief judge or the bench. The method of selection varies within the state of Washington and between the several general jurisdiction courts in another four states (Delaware, Michigan, Montana, and Tennessee). Table 31 also reports the number of clerks serving each court system in a state, the length of their terms of office, and whether their salary is paid from state or local funds.

    Clerks of court are venerable offices in most state court systems. Trial court administrators are more recent participants in the management of court operations. Table 32 lists the number of authorized and serving trial court administrators, differentiating between regional and local officials. The administrator of the general jurisdiction court sometimes also serves in that capacity for the courts of limited jurisdiction in a particular district or region. The source of court administrators' salaries is also identified.

    The last decade has seen the rapid growth of specialized court forums in the states. The first drug court was created in Dade County, Florida in 1989; all but ten states followed that example within the next decade. Table 33 provides the number of drug courts in each state, when the state implemented its first drug court, and the number of courts classified as family and juvenile drug courts. The label drug court refers to a special docket or calendar in a court to which a judge has been assigned.

    Family courts have been in existence for far longer than drug courts and sometimes have the formal status of a "court" (a judicial body to which judges are specifically appointed and are considered for subsequent terms), but the last decade has seen a marked increase in the their use. The use of Family Courts is outlined on Table 34. The table shows the number of counties, districts, or circuits served by a family court in a state. Also, the family court's subject-matter jurisdiction is defined and the year the court was founded is noted.

    Native American tribal courts bear a significant proportion of adjudicatory responsibilities in many states. Cross-state comparisons may not be accurate unless these courts are taken into consideration. Also important is the relationship between the state judicial system and the Native American judicial system. Federal Public Law 280 gave states discretionary authorization to assume jurisdiction over tribal lands. Table 36 identifies the number of federally recognized tribes and the number of tribal justice forums. Then, the table provides the number of CFR courts by state and the jurisdictional issues relevant to the applicability of state law on reservations (Public Law 280). Table 36 was compiled from the Federally recognized tribes listed in the March 13, 2000 Federal Register and the National American Indian Court Judges Association (NAICJA) database of all known tribal systems operating in the United States.

    All but four states have provisions for live or taped media coverage of court proceedings. The provisions for media in trial and appellate courts are described on a state by state basis in Table 37. Television cameras, still photographers, still cameras, and audio systems may be allowed in some courts and not others. The table indicates who must consent to the media coverage before it will be allowed. Also, states give certain parties the right to object. An objection may result in the cessation of coverage of that particular party or a total ban on coverage of the proceeding. There are also different limits on coverage. The table shows the courts' limits on the number of cameras and media personnel, on some types of proceedings, and on certain persons involved in the trial. Almost all courts require that the media personnel allowed in the court must provide access to its video transmissions and its pictures to others requesting such access. The courts encourage "pooling" arrangements when multiple parties wish to cover a proceeding.

    Table 38 examines the policies each state uses for criminal defendants claiming the insanity defense. First, the table identifies state's burden of proof when determining the defendant's capacity to stand trial. The next section of the table identifies how the court decides insanity cases. Ten states provide for a bifurcated trial where the elements of the crime are decided in one proceeding and the determination of insanity is decided in a separate proceeding. Each state's test for insanity is then identified as a variation of one of the major tests defined in the notes after the table. The table then indicates the burden of proof and who has it, what testimony is allowed, and whether the jury is informed of the consequences of an insanity verdict. Then the table identifies what the insanity verdict is called in each state and the consequences of that verdict by identifying whether treatment is mandatory or discretionary and identifying who has postconviction release authority.

    Select Bibliography:

    American Bar Association, Unified Family Courts: A Progress Report, 1998.

    Charles A. Shanor and L. Lynn Hogue, Military Law, Second Edition, St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing Company, 1996.

    David A. Schlueter, Military Criminal Justice: Practice and Procedure, Fourth Edition, Charlottesville, VA: Michie, 1996.

    Edward F. Sherman, "Military Law," Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System, Vol. I, R. Janosik (Ed.). New York: Charles Scribner's, 1987.

    Federal Courts Study Committee, Report, Washington D.C: Judicial Conference of the United States, 1990.

    H. Barry Holt and Gary Forrester, Digest of American Indian Law, Littleton, CO: Fred B. Rothman, 1990.

    H. Clifton Grandy and Ted Rubin, Tribal Court--State Court Forums, Williamsburg, Virginia: National Center for State Courts, 1993.

    Jesse C. Trentadue, "Tribal Court Jurisdiction over Collection Suits by Local Merchants and Lenders," American Indian Law Review, 13, No. 1, 1988.

    Mark J. A. Yannone, National Directory of Courts of Law, Arlington, VA: Information Resources Press, 1991.

    Myron Moskovitz, Criminal Law Defenses: 1998 Supplement, Volume 1 & 2, St. Paul, Minn.: West Publishing, 1998.

    Paul H. Robinson, Criminal Law Defenses, Volume 1 and 2, St. Paul, Minnesota: West Publishing, 1984.

    Radio-Television News Directors Association, "Cameras in the Courts," The News Media and The Law, Spring, 1993.

    Steven W. Hays and Cole Blease Graham, Jr., Handbook of Court Administration and Management, New York: Marcel Dekker, 1993.

    "Symposium on Judicial Administration Research," The Justice System Journal, Volume 12, Number 1, 1987.

    William C. Canby, Jr., American Indian Law in a Nutshell: Second Edition, St. Paul, MN: West Publishing, 1993.

    William E. Hewitt, Geoff Gallas, and Barry Mahoney, Courts That Succeed: Six Profiles of Successful Courts, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1990.

    Table 33:
    U.S. Department of Justice, Drug Court Activity Summary Information, May 1988

    Table 34:
    Contents derived from Barbara A. Babb, Fashioning an Interdisciplinary Framework for Court Reform in Family Law: A Blueprint to Construct a Unified Family Court, Southern California Law Review, Volume 71, Number 3, University of Southern California: March 1998.

    Table 35:
    Barbara J. Hart, Esq., State Codes on Domestic Violence: Analysis, Commentary and Recommendations, Reno, Nevada: National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges, 1992

    Richard A. Leiter, Editor, National Survey of State Laws: Second Edition, New York: Gale, 1997.

    Table 36:
    Bureau of Indian Affairs, Native American Tribal Court Profiles, Washington D.C., 1985.

    Carole Goldberg-Ambrose, Planting Tail Feathers: Tribal Survival and Public Law 280 (UCLA American Studies Center: 1997)(with Tim Seward).

    Department of the Interior, Bureau of Indian Affairs, Indian Entities Recognized as Eligible to Receive Services for the United States Bureau of Indian Affairs,, July 1998.

    National American Indian Court Judges Association, Tribal Court Database, May 28, 1998.

    National Indian Court Justices Association, Indian Court Judges Directory: Third Edition, Washington D.C., 1991.

    Part VI: The jury

    Our legal system is founded on the jury system. Traditionally this has been a twelve-person jury that must reach a unanimous verdict. That is no longer the standard in the state courts. This section of State Court Organization 1998 uses four tables to describe the selection and verdict rules of the petite juries in the state and federal courts. A fifth table describes the composition and function of the grand jury.

    States use various methods to procure lists for which they identify potential jurors. Table 39 identifies the statutorily authorized sources that may be used by each state to create its master list. These sources are generally not mandatory; only sources followed by an asterisk must be used. States often do not use all of the authorized sources to generate their master lists. The local jury commissioner usually determines the use made of the discretionary sources. Qualifications for jury service in terms of age, time elapsed since prior jury service, convicted felon status, residency, and literacy are also specified in this table. Finally, court policy toward jurors with disabilities is described.

    Many states exempt or excuse some potential jurors from jury duty. Table 40 explains the factors that exempt a person from jury duty, as well as factors that represent a valid basis for excusal from jury service. Exemptions are generally based on age or occupation. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia do not grant automatic occupational exemptions; several other states limit exemptions to those on active military duty. Excusals from jury service are allowed for claims of undue hardship, extreme inconvenience, public necessity, or mental disability. These claims typically have no specific definition; the application of these claims is typically up to the trial judge. Table 40 also details the obligations that employers bear in each state toward maintaining the salaries of employees while on jury service. Finally, the daily fee, if any, paid to serving jurors is also indicated.

    The formal process of jury selection in each relevant court is described in Table 41. First, the table indicates who conducts voir dire: the judge, the attorneys, or both the judge and the attorneys. Typically, the provisions are the same for all courts within a state holding a jury trial, but there are a few states that conduct voir dire differently in general and in limited jurisdiction courts. The remainder of the table indicates the number of peremptory challenges available to each party in different types of cases. The number generally differs between civil and criminal cases, and for criminal cases, between capital felony, other felony, and misdemeanor cases. In civil cases each side gets the same number of challenges while the number of peremptory challenges for each side in a criminal case may differ. Most states also have statutes regarding the distribution of peremptory challenges for multiple party plaintiffs and defendants. In some cases this varies the total number of peremptory challenges allowed and in others the total number stays the same, but are split among the parties.

    Since 1970, U.S. Supreme Court decisions have allowed states to move away from the traditional federal jury standard of 12 members who must reach a unanimous verdict. Specifically, six-member juries were found to be constitutional in Williams v. Florida, 399 U.S. 78 (1970) and non-unanimous verdicts in Apodaca v. Oregon, 406 U.S. 404 (1972). The relaxation of traditional size and verdict requirements is most prevalent for misdemeanor criminal cases. Table 42 lists jury size and verdict rules. Seven states use eight or six-member juries for non-capital felonies, and two states (Louisiana and Oregon) do not require a unanimous verdict in such cases. Some states that continue to use a 12-member, unanimous verdict jury typically allow the parties to stipulate to a smaller, non-unanimous jury. Twenty-one states, the District of Columbia, and the federal courts still require a unanimous verdict in all civil cases while twenty-nine states require a super majority.

    "No person shall be held to answer for a capital, or other infamous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment at a grand jury." This clause from the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution applies to all felony prosecutions in the federal courts. The information in Table 43 shows that while most states retain the option of a grand jury indictment, few require it to begin felony proceedings. A trend toward a diminished role for the state grand jury in processing felony cases began early in the Twentieth Century. Grand jury indictments were largely replaced by the practice of prosecutors filing a document called a criminal information, a practice ultimately upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court (In re McNaught, 1909; Palko v. Connecticut, 1937). Table 43 indicates whether a grand jury indictment is required for all felony prosecutions, the size of the grand jury, the number needed to indict, the statutory term of grand jury sittings, and the scope of the grand jury's purview.

    Select Bibliography:

    Jeffrey Abramson, We, The Jury: The Jury System and the Ideal of Democracy, New York: Basic books, 1994.

    Gebert L. Litan (Ed.), Verdict: Assessing the Civil Jury System, Washington D.C., 1993.

    G. Thomas Munsterman, Paula L. Hannaford, and G. Marc Whitehead (eds.) Jury Trial Innovations, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1997.

    G. Thomas Munsterman and Paula L. Hannaford, "Reshaping the Bedrock of Democracy: American Jury Reform During the Last Thirty Years," Judicature, Vol. 36, Number 4.

    "Symposium Issue on the Selection and Function of the Modern Jury," The American University Law Review, Vol. 40, Number 2, Winter, 1991

    Table 43:
    Loren P. Beth, "The Fuller Court and Era," Encyclopedia of the American Judicial System, Vol. I, R. Janosik

    Part VII: The sentencing context

    The seven tables in this section describe different facets of the sentencing process. The tables provide definitions of basic sentencing terms in each state; powers and procedures of the courts in the sentencing process; the use of intermediate sanctions and sentencing guidelines; the consequences of a felon conviction, and provisions affecting sentence reductions.

    In Table 44, basic definitions are given for key terms used in the sentencing process. First, felony and misdemeanor offenses are described in terms of minimum and maximum sentence lengths, and for felonies in terms of possible fines. Next, the table defines the sentence enhancement provisions and mandatory minimums resulting from the use of deadly weapons in the course of a crime and from habitual offender statutes. Finally, the table indicates what is the most severe sentence other than the death penalty in a state. For those states with capital punishment, this specific sentence is often the default if the jury cannot agree on the appropriate sentence. Many states have provisions for a sentence to "life without the possibility of parole."

    Courts of general jurisdiction have unlimited authority to hear and dispose of felony cases. However, courts of limited jurisdiction in most states conduct preliminary hearings and bind over felony defendants for trial, and in the course of doing so may have the jurisdiction to accept a guilty plea to a misdemeanor and then impose sentence. In some states, this extends to accepting a guilty plea to a felony charge and, rarely, to imposing sentence. Table 45 describes how jurisdiction over felony cases is distributed within each state's court system. Also described are the authority of a trial court judge to alter a sentence once it has been implemented and the authority of an appellate justice or court to alter a sentence.

    Sentencing responsibilities in felony cases are presented in Table 46. The table addresses capital felony cases and noncapital felony cases separately because of the different responsibilities in each type of case. For capital cases the table identifies who sets the sentence, whether the jury must be unanimous, whether there is an automatic default when the jury fails to agree, and whether the judge can alter the jury's sentence. In non-capital cases, the table also identifies who sets the original sentence and whether the judge may alter the jury's sentence, and whether there is a separate sentencing hearing. The jury sets the sentence for non-capital cases in only five states and gives a recommendation in just two other states. Of those five states, only Texas does not allow the trial judge to change the juries sentence. This contrasts with capital felony cases where the jury sets the original sentence in a majority of states.

    Sentencing options in the form of intermediate sanctions, those less severe than imprisonment but more intrusive than ordinary probation, are described in Table 47. Specific reference is made to intensive probation, work release, house arrest, electronic monitoring, and shock incarceration, the most widely used intermediate sanctions. Other intermediate sanctions are also noted. Short descriptions of the programs identified in the table are given in notes after the table.

    Table 48 offers a look at states which have sentencing commissions or sentencing guidelines (states with neither sentencing commissions nor sentencing guidelines have been omitted from the table). Sentencing commissions are described by noting when each was established, the nature of its authorization, its membership composition, its responsibilities, and whether its jurisdiction is to advise or review sentences. The table also indicates what year the state implemented sentencing guidelines and whether the guidelines are voluntary or mandatory.

    Conviction for a felony offense can bring certain "civil disabilities" in the form of collateral consequences. These typically extend beyond the point at which a person leaves prison or is released from probation or parole supervision. However, states differ in whether collateral consequences apply to all convicted felons or only to those incarcerated. Table 49 considers the impact that a felony conviction has on voting rights, parental rights, eligibility for public employment, jury service, and firearm ownership. Whether there is a registration requirement for convicted felons is also indicated. Information is also provided on the duration of the disability.

    Truth-in-sentencing laws, which specify a proportion of a sentence length that an offender must serve, are reshaping sentence-reducing mechanisms in state courts. Table 50 describes some important aspects of "back end discretion," which refers to the reduction of actual prison time served through parole board discretion and by accumulation of "good time." The availability of "good time" and the rate at which it accrues are detailed, as is the existence of a parole board with discretionary release authority.

    Select Bibliography:

    Neal Kauder, Brian Ostrom, Meredith Peterson, and David Rottman, Sentencing Commission Profiles: State Sentencing Policy and Practice, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1997.

    Brian Ostrom, Neal Kauder, David Rottman, and Meredith Peterson, Sentencing Digest: Examining Current Sentencing Issues and Policies, Williamsburg, VA: National Center for State Courts, 1998

    "A Symposium on Sentencing Reform in the States," University of Colorado Law Review, 64, No. 3, 1993.

    "'Black Box Decisions' on Life or Death--If They're Arbitrary, Don't Blame the Jury: A Reply to Judge Patrick Higginbotham," Case Western Reserve Law Review, Volume 41, Number 4, 1991.

    Barbara S. Vincent and Paul J. Hofer, The Consequences of Mandatory Minimum Prison Terms: A Summary of Recent Findings, Washington D.C.: Federal Judicial Center, 1994.

    Derral Cheatwood, "The Life-Without-Parole Sanction: Its Current Status and a Research Agenda", Crime and Delinquency, Volume 34, Number 1, January 1988.

    J. Mark Lane, "Is There Life Without Parole?: A Capital Defendant's Right to a Meaningful Alternative Sentence," Loyola of Los Angeles Law Review, Volume 26, January 1993.

    James M. Byrne, Arthur J. Lurigio, Joan Petersilia, Smart Sentencing: The Emergence of Intermediate Sanctions, Newbury Park: Sage, 1992.

    Julian H. Wright, ""Life-Without-Parole: An Alternative to Death or Not Much of a Life at All?," Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 43, 1990.

    Kathleen Maguire and Ann L. Pastore (Eds.) Sourcebook of Criminal Justice Statistics, 1993, Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Statistics, USGPO, 1994.

    Kent H. Ronhovde and Gloria P. Sugars, "Survey of Select State Firearm Control Laws," Federal Regulation of Firearms, Washington, D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office (prepared for the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee), 1982.

    Micheal H. Tonry, Intermediate Sanctions in Sentencing Guidelines. Washington D.C.: U.S. Department of Justice, Office of Justice Programs, National Institute of Justice, 1997.

    NAACP Legal Defense and Education Fund, Death Row U.S.A. (a periodical).

    Patrick A. Langan, "Between Prison and Probation: Intermediate Sanctions," Science, Vol. 264, May 1994

    Patrick E. Higginbotham, "Juries and the Death Penalty," Case Western Reserve Law Review, Volume 41, Number 4, 1991.

    Richard Koehler and Charles Lindner, "Alternative Incarceration: An Inevitable Response to Institutional Overcrowding," Federal Probation, September 1992.

    Ruthanne De Wolfe, "Prison Law Developments: Alternatives to Incarceration," Clearinghouse Review, January 1991.

    Sandra Shane-DuBow, Alice Brown, and Erik Olsen, Sentencing Reform in the United States: History, Content, and Effect. Washington D.C.: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1985.

    "Symposium on Federal Sentencing," Southern California Law Review, 99, 1992.

    William McDonald, Repeat Offender Law in the United States: Their Form, Use, and Perceived Value. Washington D.C.: National Institute of Justice, 1986

    Table 49:
    "Richard G. Singer, "Conviction: Civil Disabilities," Encyclopedia of Crime and Justice, Vol. I, S. Kadish (Ed.). New York: The Free Press, 1983.

    Walter Matthews Grant, John LeCornu, John Andrew Pickens, Dean Hill Rivkins, and C. Roger Vinson, "The Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction," Vanderbilt Law Review, Volume 23 Number 5, October 1970.

    Velmer S. Burton, Jr., Francis T. Cullen, and Lawrence F. Travis III, "The Collateral Consequences of a Felony Conviction: A National Study of State Statutes," Federal Probation, September 1987.

    Part VIII: Court structure charts

    The court structure charts summarize in a one-page diagram the key features of each state's court organization. The format meets two objectives: (1) it is comprehensive, indicating all court systems in the state and their interrelationships, and (2) it describes the jurisdiction of the court systems, using a standard set of terminology and symbols. The court structure charts employ the common terminology developed by the National Center for State Court's Court Statistics Project for reporting caseload statistics.

    The first chart is a prototype. It represents a state court organization in which there is one of each of the four court system levels recognized by the Court Statistics Project: courts of last resort, intermediate appellate courts, general jurisdiction trial courts, and limited jurisdiction trial courts. Routes of appeal from one court to another are indicated by lines, with an arrow showing which court receives the appeal or petition.

    The charts also provide basic descriptive information, such as the number of authorized justices, judges, and magistrates (or other judicial officers). Each court system's subject matter jurisdiction is indicated using the Court Statistics Project case types. Information is also provided on the use of districts, circuits, or divisions in organizing the courts within the system and the number of courts.

    The case types, which define a court system's subject matter jurisdiction, require the most explanation.

    Appellate Courts

    The rectangle representing each appellate court contains information on the number of authorized justices; the number of geographic divisions, if any; whether court decisions are made en banc, in panels, or both; and the Court Statistics Project case types that are heard by the court. The case types are shown separately for mandatory and discretionary cases. The case types themselves are defined in other Court Statistics Project publications, especially 1984 State Appellate Court Jurisdiction Guide for Statistical Reporting and State Court Model Statistical Dictionary: 1989 Edition. An appellate court can have both mandatory and discretionary jurisdiction over the same Court Statistics Project case type. This arises, in part, because the Court Statistics Project case types are defined broadly in order to be applicable to every state's courts. There are, for example, only two appellate Court Statistics Project case types for criminal appeals: capital and noncapital. A court may have mandatory jurisdiction over felony cases, but discretionary jurisdiction over misdemeanors. The list of case types would include "criminal" for both mandatory and discretionary jurisdiction. The duplication of a case type under both headings can also occur if appeals from one lower court for that case type are mandatory, while appeals from another lower court are discretionary. Also, statutory provisions or court rules in some states automatically convert a mandatory appeal into a discretionary petition--for example, when an appeal is not filed within a specified time limit. A more comprehensive description of each appellate court's subject matter jurisdiction can be found in the 1984 State Appellate Court Jurisdiction Guide for Statistical Reporting.

    Trial Courts

    The rectangle representing each trial court also lists the applicable Court Statistics Project case types. These include civil, criminal, traffic/other violation, and juvenile. Where a case type is simply listed, it means that the court system shares jurisdiction over it with other courts. The presence of exclusive jurisdiction is always explicitly stated.

    The absence of a case type from a list means that the court does not have that subject matter jurisdiction. The dollar amount jurisdiction is shown where there is an upper or a lower limit to the cases that can be filed in a court. A dollar limit is not listed if a court does not have a minimum or maximum dollar amount jurisdiction for general civil cases. In criminal cases, jurisdiction is distinguished between "felony," where the court can try a felony case to verdict and sentencing, and "preliminary hearings," which applies to those limited jurisdiction courts that can conduct preliminary hearings that bind a defendant over for trial in a higher court.

    Trial courts can have what is termed incidental appellate jurisdiction. The presence of such jurisdiction over the decisions of other courts is noted in the list of case types as either "civil appeals," "criminal appeals," or "administrative agency appeals." A trial court that hears appeals directly from an administrative agency has an "A" in the upper right corner of the rectangle.

    For each trial court, the chart states the authorized number of judges and whether the court can impanel a jury. The rectangle representing the court also indicates the number of districts, divisions, or circuits into which the court system is divided. These subdivisions are stated using the court system's own terminology. The descriptions, therefore, are not standardized across states or court systems.

    Some trial courts are totally funded from local sources and some receive some form of state funds. Locally funded court systems are drawn with broken lines. A solid line indicates some or all of the funding is derived from state funds.

    Symbols and Abbreviations

    An "A" in the upper right corner of a rectangle, representing either an appellate or a trial court, indicates that the court receives appeals directly from the decisions of an administrative agency. Where "administrative agency appeals" is listed as a case type, it indicates that the court hears appeals from decisions of another court on an administrative agency's actions. It is possible for a court to have both an "A" designation and to have "administrative agency appeals" listed as a case type. Such a court hears appeals directly from an administrative agency ("A") and has appellate jurisdiction over the decisions of a lower court that has already reviewed the decision of the administrative agency.

    The number of justices or judges is sometimes stated as "FTE." This represents "full-time equivalent" authorized judicial positions. "DWI/DUI" stands for "driving while intoxicated/driving under the influence." The "SC" abbreviation stands for "small claims." The dollar amount jurisdiction for civil cases is indicated in parentheses with a dollar sign. Where the small claims dollar amount jurisdiction is different, it is noted.

    The court structure charts are convenient summaries. They do not substitute for the detailed descriptive material contained in the 50 tables of State Court Organization, 1998, Moreover, they are based on the Court Statistics Project's terminology and categories. This means that a state may have established courts that are not included in these charts. Some states have courts of special jurisdiction to receive complaints on matters that are more typically directed to administrative boards and agencies. Since these courts adjudicate matters that do not fall within the Court Statistics Project case types, they are not included in the charts. The existence of such courts, however, is recognized in a footnote to the state's court structure chart.

    This information came from a US DOJ online article.

    *** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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