Structure of the Utah Court System
While every state shares many similarities in the way in which they organize their court systems, it is important to remember that the United States is comprised of 50 separate republics who all run their internal affairs to their own satisfaction. This means that local variants are not uncommon even if the general tenor of statewide judicial organizations closely tracks the systems originally erected during the foundational period of the nation. Go here for additional info:[dcl=6627]
In the case of Utah, the state organizes its justice system into five basic courts, which are overseen and regulated via several additional administrative boards. The five basic levels of the Utah court system are the Utah Supreme Court, the Utah Court of Appeals, various geographically-organized District Court circuits, specialized Utah Juvenile Courts, and the locally-authorized system known as the Utah Justice Courts.
At the lowest rung of the structure are the Justice Courts, which serve as arbiters of municipal codes, traffic offenses, and minor infractions such as misdemeanors. These are usually organized by a municipality or township.
The mission of the Juvenile Court system is rather self-explanatory in nature. This system mirrors the organizational structure of the District Courts in that there are eight separate Juvenile Court districts. The court has original jurisdiction in almost all matters involving persons under the age of 18 years with the main exception being the resolution of minor traffic offenses. In addition, the Juvenile Courts maintain their own organic probation department to service the needs of their underage clients.
The main component of the Utah judicial system is of course the Utah District Court system, organized in eight separate geographic departments. It is at this level where most legal actions commence, whether they are civil actions, any of the large number of felony offenses, or (in those areas where Utah Justice Courts are not operating) misdemeanors. The District Courts also exercise original jurisdiction over domestic cases such as divorce and family law and also serve as the first appellate court in case of appeals emanating from actions of the administrative arms of the state and local governments ([dcl=6627]).
The Utah Court of Appeals obviously serves as the primary appellate court of the state. Surprisingly enough, however, it was not instituted until 1987 and consists of seven judges. Interestingly, these seven judges do not comprise an “en banc” court wherein they all hear the same case. Instead, appeals are assigned to rotating three-judge panels drawn from the total of seven. Although based in Salt Lake City, the court also maintain a traveling circuit schedule during part of the year so that it may hear cases in distant parts of the state as well.
At the top of the judicial pyramid sits the Utah Supreme Court, which does not consist of the typical and traditional nine members often found in other American Supreme Courts but instead only has five judges. This court of last resort also provides administrative oversight of the entire Utah court system in conjunction with the Utah Judicial Council and various Boards of Judges who watch over the various other court components.