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Pennsylvania State Courts

Courts – State Courts – Pennsylvania

Highest Court

The highest court in Pennsylvania is the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania.  The Supreme Court consists of 7 justices. It has jurisdiction over (1) Hears direct appeals in felonious homicide, right to public office, Probate or Orphans’ Courts matters, contempt cases, and questions of constitutionality of a statute. Other appeals are discretionary. (2) May assume plenary jurisdiction over any matter in any court at any state of the proceedings if it is a question of immediate public importance.

Intermediate Courts

Commonwealth Court
The Commonwealth Court consists of 9 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Original jurisdiction in civil actions involving the commonwealth or any of its officers. (2) Appeals from administrative agencies, local government, eminent domain, and non-profit corporation matters.

Superior Court
The Superior Court consists of 15 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Exclusive appellate jurisdiction over Court of Common Pleas except those directly appealable to Supreme Court or Commonwealth Court. (2) Non-government equity appeals.

General Courts

Court of Common Pleas
The Court of Common Pleas consists of 408 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Original jurisdiction in all civil matters. Orphans Court Division handles probate. (2) Original jurisdiction in all criminal matters. (3) Exclusive jurisdiction in juvenile.
Appeals de novo.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Limited Courts

Philadelphia Municipal Court
The Philadelphia Municipal Court consists of 25 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Landlord and tenant, assumpsit and trespass claims under $1,000. (2) Criminal offenses with less than 5-year sentence, motor vehicle law, and preliminary hearings except for homicide and rape.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

District Justice Courts
The District Justice Courts consists of 551 judges. It has jurisdiction over (1) Civil matters under $8,000. (2) Offenses with fine under $500 and/or sentence up to 90 days. (3) Preliminary hearings in most criminal. Some motor vehicle cases.
No jury trials are overseen by this court.

Additional Information

Court of record
Every court of Pennsylvania shall be a court of record with all the qualities and incidents of a court of record at common law. (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 321)

Every court shall have the power to issue any lawful writ and process needed and appropriate for
jurisdiction and enforcement of any orders except as otherwise prescribed by general rules. (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 323)

Supreme Court
The Supreme Court of Pennsylvania shall be the highest court and supreme judicial power.  The Supreme Court shall be composed of the Chief Justice of Pennsylvania and six associate justices. (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 501)

Original jurisdiction
The Supreme Court shall have original, but not exclusive jurisdiction in all cases of:  (1) Habeas corpus, (2) Mandamus or prohibition to courts of inferior jurisdiction, and  (3) Quo warranto as to any officer of Statewide  jurisdiction. (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 721.)

Community courts
Each judicial district of Pennsylvania may elect to establish or discontinue one community court. The community court is not a court of record and number of judges shall be determine by population of the district.  No judicial district shall have less than two community court judges. Single county judicial district community courts shall be known as the “Community Court of (name of county) County.”  Multi-county district community courts shall be named “Community Court of (name of district) Judicial District.”  (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 1101)

Lien of judgments
A judgment of a community court shall not operate as a lien on real property until a transcript of the record has been filed in the office of the clerk of the court of common pleas in the county where the property is located or in the office of the clerk of the branch of the court of common pleas. No such transcript shall be filed until after 30 days after the entry of final judgment by the community court. No execution against real estate shall issue out of the community court. (42 Pa.C.S.A. § 1106)

Third class city traffic courts authorized
Any third class city may establish its own traffic court .  The traffic court is not a court of record.
(42 Pa.C.S.A. § 1341)

Inside Pennsylvania State Courts