The Alaska trial court system consists of Superior Courts and District Courts.
Superior Courts are courts of general jurisdiction and District Courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Superior Courts and District Courts share jurisdiction over some criminal and civil cases, but Superior Courts usually only handle civil cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts, with the exception of domestic violence protection orders, which are heard by both courts.
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Alaska Superior CourtsSuperior Courts have general jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, and typically handle cases that are beyond the jurisdiction of District Courts.
Criminal cases heard by Superior Courts include felonies and lesser-included offenses.
Civil cases heard by Superior Courts include general civil cases with claims of more than $100,000 per defendant. Superior Courts also handle probate matters, guardianships, juvenile matters, involuntary commitments, administrative agency appeals and domestic relations cases.
With the exception of domestic violence protection orders, Superior Courts do not handle civil cases within the jurisdiction of District Courts.
Alaska District CourtsDistrict Courts have jurisdiction over certain civil and criminal cases.
Criminal cases handled by District Court include most misdemeanors and ordinance violations.
Civil jurisdiction of District Courts includes most general civil cases with less than $100,000 in dispute per defendant, excluding costs, interest and attorney fees. District Courts do not have jurisdiction over civil cases with disputes over title to real property or certain equity issues.
District Courts have Small Claims divisions for cases that involve claims for less than $10,000, excluding costs, interest and attorney fees. The Small Claims division cannot handle cases that raise important or unusual points of law, or cases where the State is a defendant. The State is permitted to use the Small Claims division for cases involving the payment of wages, if the claim does not exceed $20,000, excluding costs, interest and attorney fees.
District Courts handle stalking protection orders and share jurisdiction over domestic violence protection orders with Superior Courts. District Courts also have jurisdiction to hear certain emergency cases involving the protection of a minor.
Alaska Court NotesSome Alaska courts have Therapeutic Court divisions that provide alternative proceedings for certain types of criminal cases.
Where to find court cases in AlaskaThe chart below gives general information on the types of cases heard in each type of court in Alaska.