Summary Review of Court Systems -
Structure of Civil Courts
In Oklahoma, each municipality has a municipal court, which are courts of limited jurisdiction. These courts mainly oversee city citations and traffic violations. With the exception of the municipal courts for the City of Oklahoma City and the City of Tulsa, Oklahoma municipal courts are not courts of record.
Each county includes a district court with one or more district judges and an associate district judge. Additionally, many counties employ special judges, who are assigned evictions, hearings on assets, and other procedural matters on a revolving basis.
Oklahoma is unique in that it has two courts of last resort – the Oklahoma Supreme Court and the Oklahoma Court of Criminal Appeals. A criminal case appealed from an Oklahoma district court will be heard by the Court of Criminal Appeals. A civil case appealed from an Oklahoma district court will be heard by either the Oklahoma Supreme Court, or the Court of Civil Appeals (in most instances, the Oklahoma Supreme Court has discretion to accept review of decisions from the Court of Civil Appeals). The Oklahoma Supreme Court has final jurisdiction over challenges to state laws and the Oklahoma Constitution.
Oklahoma is in the Tenth Circuit and is home to three federal district courts: the Eastern, Western and Northern District Courts of Oklahoma.
Basis of Jurisdiction
District courts have general subject matter jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases. In civil cases, matters involving any monetary amount may be heard by the district courts. Cases involving $10,000 or less may be heard in the small claims courts of each county.
Oklahoma has no specialized commercial courts.
Oklahoma maintains twelve regionalized and publicly-available early settlement community mediation centers established under the Dispute Resolution Act. These programs are guided by rules adopted by the Administrative Director of the Courts. Mediators enlisted through this program are available at minimal or no cost. In most cases outside of the early settlement mediation program, mediation may otherwise be court-ordered or privately sought by civil litigants; most scheduling orders in both state and federal court order mediation prior to the pretrial conference.
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