Courts in Alaska
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Courts in Alaska include a state court system, one federal district court and approximately 40 Native American tribal courts.
Alaska's court system is a "unified, centrally administered, and totally state-funded" system. The Alaska Supreme Court and Alaska Court of Appeals are the state's appellate courts; the superior courts and district courts serve as trial courts.
For the purposes of judicial elections, Alaska is divided into four judicial districts.
The Supreme Court hears appeals from lower courts and administers the state's judicial system. It has final appellate jurisdiction in civil and criminal matters.
The Court of Appeals was created in 1980 by the Alaska Legislature. It has the authority to hear criminal and quasi-criminal appeals, appeals of wrongful conviction, and probate and parole appeals. Criminal defendants can choose whether or not to have their appeals heard by the superior court or the court of appeals. "A defendant who appeals from district court to superior court can ask the court of appeals to review the resulting decision of the superior court, but the court of appeals may, in its discretion, refuse to hear the appeal."
The Court of Appeals' jurisdiction includes the following: criminal prosecutions, post-conviction relief, juvenile delinquency, extradition, habeas corpus, probation and parole, bail, and the excessiveness or leniency of a sentence.
State trial courts
These courts have general jurisdiction. The court is assigned 40 judges who have the authority to hear all cases—criminal or otherwise—excepting cases that might be brought in front of a district court (superior courts rarely hear these).
These courts have limited jurisdiction.The district courts have 21 judges, and they routinely hear the following types of cases:
- state misdemeanors and violations of city and borough ordinances
- first appearances and preliminary hearings in felony cases
- civil cases valued up to $100,000
- small claims cases ($10,000 maximum)
- cases involving children on an emergency basis
- domestic violence cases
District courts also perform the following duties:
- issue summonses, arrest warrants and search warrants
- record vital statistics (in some areas of the state)
The federal district court in Alaska is the United States District Court for the District of Alaska. Rulings of this court may be appealed to the Ninth Circuit. The district court has three Article III federal judges assigned to it, and six Federal magistrate judges.
- Kake, Alaska: Since 2001 there have been 36 Peacemaking Circles in Kake. The circles have been involved in solving misdemeanor activity or parental alcohol abuse cases. Currently, all underage drinking cases in the area are dealt with by this form of restorative justice.
- Alaska Supreme Court
- Alaska Court of Appeals
- Alaska state appellate courts
- Alaska state trial courts
- United States District Court for the District of Alaska
- U.S. Bankruptcy Court, District of Alaska
- MegaLaw, "Guide to courts in Alaska"