Hawaii State Courts

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The Hawaii Judiciary

Hawaii's court system consists of the Supreme Court, Intermediate Court of Appeals, the Circuit Courts, Family Courts and District Courts.

Honolulu is the capital city of Hawaii. The state Supreme Court is located in the capital and has five justices. The primary duty of the state's high court is to review appeals from lower courts and agencies in the state. The Supreme Court also has original jurisdiction on questions of law from other courts and decisions of proceedings for extraordinary relief in the nature of certain writs.

The Intermediate Court of Appeals shares appellate jurisdiction with the Supreme Court in reviewing appealed cases. In general, the Court of Appeals reviews trial court decisions for error while the Supreme Court reviews appeals pertinent to the establishing of law. Decisions of the Intermediate Court of Appeals are subject to review by the Supreme Court.

The Land Court has exclusive original jurisdiction over title registration of land easements or rights in land held and possessed.

The Tax Appeal Court, as its name implies, hears disputes regarding taxation. It decides all questions of both fact and law involving taxation, and does it without a jury.

Circuit Courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction in civil and criminal cases. They also have exclusive jurisdiction in felony cases, in civil cases for amounts over $20,000, and in probate and guardianship cases. (Civil disputes between $10,000 and $20,000 can be filed in either a Circuit Court or a District Court.)

Family Courts hear legal matters regarding children and domestic relations. This jurisdiction includes juvenile delinquency, child abuse, neglect, parental rights, adoption, guardianships, divorce, nonsupport, custody, domestic violence and other matters.

District Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over traffic violations, landlord-tenant disputes, and non-jury civil trials where the amount contested is less than $10,000. (Civil disputes between $10,000 and $20,000 can be filed in either Circuit Court or District Court.) District Courts can try criminal offenses punishable by fine or by imprisonment not exceeding one year, county-ordinance violations, and petitions for restraining orders.

They function in four judicial districts, represented by the four major islands: First Judicial Circuit - Consists of the island of O`ahu and other islands of the State not in any other circuit. Second Judicial Circuit - Consists of the islands of Maui, Moloka`i, Lana`i, Kaho`olawe and Molokini. Third Judicial Circuit - Consists of the island of Hawai`i. Fifth Judicial Circuit - Consists of the islands of Kaua`i and Ni`ihau. The Fourth Judicial Circuit, which represented a portion of the island of Hawai`i, was eliminated in 1943 when it merged into the Third Circuit.

State Supreme Court
Hawaii Supreme Court
Appellate Court
Hawaii Court of Appeals
Circuit Courts
Hawaii Circuit Courts
Family Court
Hawaii Family Courts
District Courts
Hawaii District Courts
Related Links
Hawaii Official State Website
State Government
Judicial Branch
Hawaii Attorney General
State Bar Association
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