In Alaska, there are appellate courts and trial courts, and each has two levels.  The appellate courts consist of the Court of Appeals and the Alaska Supreme Court.  The trial courts are divided into Superior Courts and District Courts.

There are four judicial districts in Alaska and each has a Superior Court that is the general jurisdiction trial court.  The district boundaries are defined by statute.  The Superior Courts preside over criminal felony, civil, domestic relations, divorce, juvenile delinquency, child abuse, guardianship cases, and may act as an appellate court for District Court criminal and civil cases.

Each judicial district also has a District Court, and the Alaska Supreme Court decides how many district court judges there should be in a district.  District Courts are responsible for hearing cases on misdemeanors, violations, offenses, felony preliminary hearings, civil court cases involving amounts up to $100,000, small claims cases, domestic violence cases, and inquests.

In areas that do not have full-time district court judges, the district may use Magistrates.  A Magistrate’s authority is more limited than that of a District Court judge, and he or she may hear traffic cases, municipal ordinances, criminal misdemeanors, civil cases under $10,000, and in felony criminal cases may preside over preliminary hearings.  Magistrates also assist the District Court with routine matters in metropolitan areas.

Alaska provides one of the best online resources for court searches of any state in the U.S.: The Alaska CourtView Trial Court Index.  Start there to search District Court and Superior Court civil and criminal records, as well as divorces, real estate, small claims, and probate and conservatorship cases.

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