Judicial Branch

The judicial branch of government (the courts) consists of the District Court (a state court), the City Court, and Justice of the Peace (J.P.) courts in the rural area. Persons accused of misdemeanors, including violations of city ordinances, are tried in City Court. A traffic violator, for example, goes before the City Court.

Criminal Trials

No crimes in the rural area are tried in J.P. courts. Some lawsuits of non-criminal nature, and which involve small amounts of money, may be tried in city and justice of the peace courts. If, for example, you sued your neighbor for damaging your fence, the case would likely be in one of the courts. However, if a large sum of money or a serious crime such as murder were involved, the case would go to district court.

Non-Criminal Trials

In addition to criminal trials, civil (non-criminal) matters are also tried in the courts, the courts have functions more closely related to policy and administrative questions of local government. Independent of the executive and legislative branches, the courts apply constitutional safeguards. The courts protect individual liberties and private rights from infringement by acts of the other two branches.

Law Interpretations

Also, the courts settle questions of interpretations of council ordinance, state laws relating to local government and the powers of the legislative at executive branches of government.