Courts in Connecticut
The Connecticut judiciary is divided into several courts with differing levels of jurisdiction.
The Supreme Court is the court of last resort in Connecticut. It reviews decisions made by the lower courts if there is a question about possible error of law. Like the Appellate Courts, the Supreme Court does not generally hear from witnesses. Rather, it reaches decisions based upon review of court documents, records and oral arguments.
The Connecticut Appellate Court hears appeals and reviews decisions on cases from the Superior Courts. The Appellate Court does not hear from witnesses, but reaches decisions based upon review of court documents, records and oral arguments.
All cases (outside of Probate matters) originate in the Superior Court. Superior Court is divided into four areas: civil, criminal, family and housing.
Civil cases are those between two aggravated parties and fall into five categories:
- Landlord - tenant
- Small claims
- Administrative appeals
- Civil jury
- Civil non-jury (case decided upon by a judge)
Criminal cases are those between individuals accused of breaking the law and the state. The criminal division of Superior Court hears cases on felonies, misdemeanors, violations (punishable by fine only), and infractions (no court appearance necessary).
Family cases consist of juvenile matters, child support and paternity actions, and all other family matters including divorce.
Housing cases are heard by the Superior Court in Bridgeport, Hartford, New Haven, Stamford-Norwalk and Waterbury judicial districts. Elsewhere, these cases fall under the regular civil docket.
Court of limited jurisdiction
The Probate Courts have jurisdiction over such matters as estates, wills and trusts, adoption, etc. There are 117 probate districts in Connecticut, each of which is presided over by an elected judge. These positions do not require a background in law.
There is one federal district court in Connecticut, the United States District Court for the District of Connecticut. Appeals from the District of Connecticut go to the Second Circuit.