Kentucky Case Law
The Kentucky state court system is divided into three levels. The highest court in Kentucky is the Kentucky Supreme Court, which consists of seven judges. The Supreme Court reviews appeals of decisions by the Kentucky Court of Appeals. It also reviews appeals of decisions by trial courts in limited situations. Decisions by the Kentucky Supreme Court are final unless the U.S. Supreme Court agrees to review an appeal of a decision.
The middle level of the Kentucky state court system is the Kentucky Court of Appeals. It contains 14 judges, who usually review appeals of decisions by trial courts in three-judge panels. The Court of Appeals was the highest court in Kentucky until an amendment to the Kentucky Constitution created the Supreme Court in 1975.
The lowest level of the Kentucky state court system consists primarily of the Kentucky Circuit Courts and the Kentucky District 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. The jurisdiction of the District Courts is limited to certain types of cases. These include misdemeanors, traffic violations, juvenile matters, violations of local ordinances, probate matters, and civil matters with no more than $4,000 at issue.
The Circuit Courts also contain a special set of courts that is dedicated to handling family law matters, such as cases related to divorce, child custody, and adoption. These courts share jurisdiction with the District Courts over domestic violence and child abuse cases, juvenile matters, and proceedings involving paternity and child support.