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Law: Arizona State Court System

A guide to help you research legal topics

Arizona State Court System

Most states have a similar court structure even though the names of the individual courts may differ. Most states have a trial court, the lowest level court, a court of appeals, and a court of last resort (a supreme court). 

The lowest level court in each state is the Trial Court of Limited Jurisdiction.  These courts handle cases involving probate, traffic violations, divorce and custody, and small claims lawsuits.  In Arizona the Trial Court of Limited Jurisdiction is called the Municipal Court or Justice of the Peace Courts. 

The next level of court is the Trial Court of General Jurisdiction. Both civil and criminal cases can be heard in these courts, and there is usually a jury present.  In Arizona the Trial Court of General Jurisdiction is called the Superior Court.  The Superior Court may also hear appeals from the Justice of the Peace Court and the Municipal Court.

Arizona Court System Hierarchy

Arizona also has a special court below the Court of Appeals called the Arizona Tax Court.  Cases involving state tax issues are heard here.

The Intermediate Appellate Court falls between the Trial Court of General Jurisdiction and the highest level court in the state.  In Arizona, this court is called the Court of Appeals.  In most cases, parties have the right to an appeal, so appeals from lower courts will be heard at this level of court.  

The highest court in Arizona is called the Supreme Court.  Because Arizona has an intermediate court of appeals where parties can appeal lower court decisions, the State Supreme Court may or may not decide to hear certain cases.  However, certain issues such as election disputes often go straight to the state's highest court.