State Court of Pennsylvania
The State court system of Pennsylvania is governed and maintained based on the interpretation of the State’s constitution. Specifically; however, the State court system of Pennsylvania is regulated and administered through the state government’s Judiciary system.
Pennsylvania’s Judiciary branch is divided into 60 judicial districts. The majority of these circuits, with the exception of Philadelphia, possess magisterial district judges (formerly referred to as district justices and justices of the peace). These individuals typically preside over preliminary hearings in misdemeanor as well as felony trials. All minor, meaning summary, criminal offenses and civil claims are administered and heard by this court system.
The majority of criminal and civil cases originate in the Courts of Common Pleas. This state court of Pennsylvania also serves as the appellate court to the underlying and respective district judges and for all local agency decisions.
The Superior Court of Pennsylvania hears all appeals from the Courts of Common Pleas that are not expressly designated to the Commonwealth Court or the Supreme Court. The Superior Court also possesses original jurisdictional powers to review warrants for wiretap surveillance.
The Commonwealth Court system is limited to appeals from final orders of certain state agencies and certain designated cases from the Courts of Common Pleas. The Supreme Court of the state of Pennsylvania is the final appellate court in the judicial system. All judges in Pennsylvania are elected and the chief justice is determined through seniority.