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The Various Alabama Courts and What they Do

Feb 01

Because of the many different court classifications in Alabama, people are often confused about with what court they are involved, or need to be involved. Following is a brief description of each court in this area, along with its responsibilities. (For non-Alabama readers, this does not apply, as courts in each state are structured differently).

Probate Court is a non-jury court that mostly handles the recording and preservation of public record documents which are held in the Probate Office. Probate Court also rules over matters such as adoptions, guardianships, conservatorships, commitments to mental hospitals, name changes, legitimizations, will and estate administrations, etc. Cherokee County’s Probate Judge is Judge Melvin Salter.

Municipal Court is a non-jury courts that has jurisdiction over viola­tions of municipal ordinances and criminal misde­meanor offenses occurring within the city’s police jurisdiction. Centre is the only city in Cherokee County which has its own municipal court. Centre’s Municipal Court Judge is Judge Bert Latham.

 Small Claims Court is a non-jury court that hears civil matters where the amount in controversy does not exceed $3,000. Cherokee County’s Small Claims Court Judge is Judge Sheri Carver.

 District Court is a non-jury court having jurisdiction over criminal misdemeanor offenses and preliminary hearings in felony prosecutions. District court also has jurisdiction in civil matters where the amount in con­troversy exceeds $3,000, but does not exceed $10,000. Cherokee County’s District Court Judge is Judge Sheri Carver.

 Juvenile Court is a non-jury court having jurisdiction over both civil and criminal matters involving those under the age of 18, including actions where a child is alleged to be delinquent, dependent or in need of supervision. Cherokee County’s Juvenile Court Judge is Judge Sheri Carver.

 Drug Court oversees and manages those persons who have committed certain eligible drug-related crimes. Drug Court acts to rehabilitate and counsel those with drug addictions and may offer certain legal rewards for completion of the Drug Court Program. All drug cases are not eligible for drug court, and participants must be accepted into the program by the Drug Court Board. Cherokee County’s Drug Court Judge is Judge Sheri Carver.

 Circuit Court is capable of paneling a jury in many cases and has jurisdiction over all criminal matters involving felony prosecutions. Circuit Court may also exercise jurisdiction over legal matters filed in District and Juvenile Court, and in matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $3,000. Circuit Courts have exclusive jurisdiction over matters where the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000. The Circuit Court Judges in Cherokee County share time between Cherokee and Dekalb Counties; they are Judge Randall Cole, Judge David Rains, and Judge Jeremy Taylor.

 This column is intended for general information purposes only. It is not intended, nor should it be construed as personal legal advice. The answers to most legal problems rely on the specific facts of your situation; therefore, it is very important that you personally see a lawyer when these situations arise.