Alabama Case Law
The Alabama state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in Alabama is the Alabama Supreme Court, which consists of nine justices. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations. Decisions by the Alabama Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the Alabama state court system consists of the Alabama Court of Civil Appeals and the Alabama Court of Criminal Appeals. The Court of Civil Appeals reviews appeals in civil matters, except for cases with more than $50,000 at issue, which are appealed directly to the Supreme Court. The Court of Criminal Appeals reviews appeals in felony and misdemeanor cases. Each intermediate appellate court consists of five judges.
The lowest level of the Alabama state court system consists primarily of the Alabama Circuit Courts, the Alabama District Courts, the Alabama Municipal Courts, and the Alabama Probate Courts. The Circuit Courts are trial courts with general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. These courts also review appeals of decisions by District Courts, Municipal Courts, and Probate Courts. The jurisdiction of the District Courts is limited to certain types of cases. These include misdemeanors and civil matters with an amount between $3,000 and $10,000 at issue. The Municipal Courts review cases that involve violations of local ordinances and violations of state laws that fall within the police jurisdiction of a city. The Probate Courts review cases that involve wills, estates, guardianships, name changes, and land partitions.
Alabama also has certain other courts that review distinctive types of cases. These include Juvenile Courts and Small Claims Courts. Juvenile Courts, in which the proceedings are confidential, review criminal and civil cases that involve people under the age of 18. Small Claims Courts review cases with less than $3,000 at issue.