The very idea of going to a court can make people feel nervous. A large part of that nervousness, though, could come from not knowing exactly what these different court systems do. The key terms below should help you better understand the types of jobs that these systems perform.
Clerk’s office – Clerks maintain records for various court systems. In the United States, every system from your county court to the Supreme Court has a clerk that maintains records. Citizens living in a municipality or city usually use their county clerk’s office to get marriage licenses, divorce papers, and death certificates among other types of information that fall within the public record.
District Court – These are federal courts that deal with cases relating to federal laws and diversity. Although it’s somewhat confusing, the term “district court” can also refer to a state system, such as those in Texas and Florida.
Superior Court – Superior court judges make rulings related to civil and criminal cases. They have jurisdiction over a wider range of cases that lower courts.
Circuit Court – Many states within the U.S. have circuit courts that operate at the state level. This system handles appeal cases from lower courts. Any issue not settled within the state system could be brought before a judge in a federal system. In many cases, though, this depends on whether a federal judge is willing to hear testimony and whether the case meets specific requirements established by the state and federal appeals systems.