In Pennsylvania, the courts of common pleas are the trial courts of the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania (the state court system).
The courts of common pleas are the trial courts of general jurisdiction in the state. The name derives from the medieval English court of Common Pleas.
They hear civil cases with a significant amount in controversy and trials for serious crimes. They have original jurisdiction over all cases not exclusively assigned to another court and appellate jurisdiction over judgments from the minor courts (which include the magisterial district courts in all counties but Philadelphia, the Philadelphia Municipal Court and Pittsburgh Municipal Court). They also hear appeals from certain state and most local government agencies.
The courts are established by Article V, Section 5 of the Pennsylvania Constitution:
"There shall be one court of common pleas for each judicial district (a) having such divisions and consisting of such number of judges as shall be provided by law, one of whom shall be the president judge; and (b) having unlimited original jurisdiction in all cases except as may otherwise be provided by law."
The courts of common pleas are organized into 60 judicial districts, 53 comprising one of Pennsylvania's 67 counties, and seven comprising two counties.
Each district has from one to 101 judges. Judges of the common pleas courts are elected to ten-year terms. A president judge and a court administrator serve in each judicial district. In districts with seven or fewer judges, the president judge with the longest continuous service holds this position. In districts with eight or more judges, the president judge is elected to a five-year term by the court.
A county court is a court based in or with a jurisdiction covering one or more counties, which are administrative divisions within a country, not to be confused with the medieval system of county courts held by the high sheriff of each county.
The Supreme Court of the State of New York is the trial-level court of general jurisdiction in the New York State Unified Court System. It is vested with unlimited civil and criminal jurisdiction, although outside New York City it acts primarily as a court of civil jurisdiction, with most criminal matters handled in County Court.
The term magistrate is used in a variety of systems of governments and laws to refer to a civilian officer who administers the law. In ancient Rome, a magistratus was one of the highest ranking government officers, and possessed both judicial and executive powers. In other parts of the world, such as China, a magistrate was responsible for administration over a particular geographic area. Today, in some jurisdictions, a magistrate is a judicial officer who hears cases in a lower court, and typically deals with more minor or preliminary matters. In other jurisdictions, magistrates may be volunteers without formal legal training who perform a judicial role with regard to minor matters.
In common law systems, a superior court is a court of general competence which typically has unlimited jurisdiction with regard to civil and criminal legal cases. A superior court is "superior" in relation to a court with limited jurisdiction, which is restricted to civil cases involving monetary amounts with a specific limit, or criminal cases involving offenses of a less serious nature. A superior court may hear appeals from lower courts. The highest of the superior courts is the Supreme court.
In common law legal systems original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a higher court has the power to review a lower court's decision.
The word prothonotary is recorded in English since 1447, as "principal clerk of a court," from L.L. prothonotarius, from Greek protonotarios "first scribe," originally the chief of the college of recorders of the court of the Byzantine Empire, from Greek πρῶτοςprotos "first" + Latin notarius ("notary"); the -h- appeared in Medieval Latin. The title was awarded to certain high-ranking notaries.
The structure of the judiciary of Texas is laid out in Article 5 of the Constitution of Texas and is further defined by statute, in particular the Texas Government Code and Texas Probate Code. The structure is complex, featuring many layers of courts, numerous instances of overlapping jurisdiction, several differences between counties, as well as an unusual bifurcated appellate system at the top level found in only one other state: Oklahoma. Municipal Courts are the most active courts, with County Courts and District Courts handling most other cases and often sharing the same courthouse.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania is one of two Pennsylvania intermediate appellate courts, the other being the Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania. Appeal to the Superior Court is generally of right from final decisions of the Court of Common Pleas. Although different panels of three judges may sit to hear appeals, there is only one Superior Court. The court is based in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania and sits to hear cases in Harrisburg, Pittsburgh, and Philadelphia.
The First Judicial District is the judicial body governing the county of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. It consists of the Court of Common Pleas of Philadelphia County and the Philadelphia Municipal Court.
The Philadelphia Municipal Court is a trial court of limited jurisdiction seated in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. It has 27 judges elected by the voters of Philadelphia. The Municipal Court has three divisions: the Criminal Division, the Civil Division, and the Traffic Division. Within the Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania, it serves as a substitute for the magisterial district courts that serve the rest of the Commonwealth. It is a part of the First Judicial District of Pennsylvania.
The Government of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is the governmental structure of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania as established by the Pennsylvania Constitution. It is composed of three branches: executive, legislative and judicial. The capital of the Commonwealth is Harrisburg.
The term county judge is applied as a descriptor, sometimes as a title, for a person who presides over a county court. In most cases, such as in Northern Ireland and the Victorian County Courts, a county judge is a judicial officer with civil or criminal jurisdiction. In the United States, however, there are some "County Courts" which exercise primarily administrative functions, in which case the County Judge may exercise largely or solely executive authority and be equivalent to the county executive in other local government areas.
The Connecticut Superior Court is the state trial court of general jurisdiction. It hears all matters other than those of original jurisdiction of the Probate Court, and hears appeals from the Probate Court. The Superior Court has 13 judicial districts which have at least one courthouse and one geographical area court. Civil cases, administrative appeals, family matters, and serious criminal offenses are generally heard in a judicial district courthouse. All criminal arraignments, misdemeanors, felonies, and motor vehicle violations that require a court appearance are heard in one of the 20 geographical area courts.
The Judiciary of Vermont is the state court system of Vermont, charged with Vermont law.
The Judiciary of New York is the judicial branch of the Government of New York, comprising all the courts of the State of New York
The Unified Judicial System of Pennsylvania is the unified state court system of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.
The judiciary of Michigan is defined under the Michigan Constitution, law, and regulations as part of the Government of Michigan. The court system consists of the Michigan Supreme Court, the Michigan Court of Appeals as the intermediate appellate court, the circuit courts and district courts as the two primary trial courts, and several administrative courts and specialized courts. The Supreme Court administers all the courts. The Michigan Supreme Court consists of seven members who are elected on non-partisan ballots for staggered eight-year terms, while state appellate court judges are elected to terms of six years and vacancies are filled by an appointment by the governor, and circuit court and district court judges are elected to terms of six years.
The judiciary of Ohio is the branch of the government of Ohio that interprets and applies the law of Ohio, ensures equal justice under law, and provides a mechanism for dispute resolution. The court of last resort is the Ohio Supreme Court.
Magistrate judge, in U.S. state courts, is a title used for various kinds of judges, typically holding a low level of office with powers and responsibilities more limited than state court judges of general jurisdiction.
In Pennsylvania, the judiciary is chosen through partisan elections. Partisan elections involve judges political party to be listed on the ballot. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania has not always elected judges through this process.