Municipal Courts

Resource Guide

We define a “municipal court” as a stand-alone trial court of limited jurisdiction that may or may not provide jury trials and that is funded largely by a local unit of government. As “citizen courts,” municipal courts can have a great influence over how the public perceives the justice system as a whole, since the principal and most common case types of these courts include traffic and ordinance violations, small claims cases, domestic cases, misdemeanor offenses, and other preliminary proceedings in felony cases.

Links to related online resources are listed below. Non-digitized publications may be borrowed from the NCSC Library; call numbers are provided.

Featured Links

Cornell, Janet. Limited-Jurisdiction Courts - Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies for Action. (2012). Future Trends in State Courts.

This article reviews traits of limited-jurisdiction courts in local governments or municipalities, shares issues and challenges, and suggests strategies for these courts to consider.


Texas Municipal Courts Education Center video. Role of the Municipal Court . This video describes the Texas municipal court system.
Mayor`s Courts Summary. (2007). The Supreme Court of Ohio This report is the 2007 summary of case statistics from the Mayor's Courts of Ohio. The Mayor's Courts are rquired to file statistics on a quarterly basis with the Supreme Court of Ohio. These courts, which are not couts of record, hear cases involving violations of local ordinances and state traffic laws. Convictions are appealable to the municipal or county court having jurisdiction within the municipal corporation.
Myers, Lawrence G. Judicial Independence in the Municipal Court: Preliminary Observations from Missouri. (Summer 2004). Court Review 41, no. 2: 26
Tobin, Robert. Performance Audit of the Town of Hilton Head Island Municipal Court: Final Report. (2004).

The Court consists of one full-time judge and one part-time judge with three full-time employees and one part-time employee. Both judges are law-trained. The court's jurisdiction is limited to cases arising under ordinances of the municipality, and over all offenses which are subject to a fine not to exceed $500.00 or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both, and which occur within the municipality.

Fautsko, Timothy. Workload Assessment Model for the Puerto Rico Municipal Court: Final Report. (2003).

Judicial leaders in the Commonwealth of Puerto Roci face continual challenges of effectively managing rising caseloads, disposing of court business without delay, and delivering quality service to the public.

Fautsko, Timothy. State of Delaware Justice of Peace Court Civil Staffing Standards Study. (November 2001).

The Delaware Justice of the Peace Courts are limited jurisdiction courts with authority over landlord/tenant and debt cases, in addition to criminal matters. The courts use staffing standard studies to develop an accurate measurement of work demands for planning and allocation of future resources.

Douglas, John. Technology Needs and Feasibility Study, the Municipal Court of Seattle: Final Report. (2000).

The Municipal Court of Seattle is the largest limited jurisdiction court in the state of Washington. It has jurisdiction over all violations of the Seattle Municipal Code and hears misdemeanors and gross misdemeanors, traffic and non-traffic infractions, and parking violations.

Steelman, David. Management and Resource Needs in the Municipal Court of Roswell, Georgia: Final Report. (2000).

The Roswell Municipal Court is a trial court of limited jurisdiction adjudicating drunk-driving cases, moving traffic violations, and non-traffic misdemeanors that arise in the city of Roswell, located in the Atlanta metropolitan area.

Fautsko, Timothy, Cindy Dietrich, Daniel Hall and Laura Klaversma. State of Delaware Justice of the Peace Court. (February 1999). Court Services Division.

This report indicates the results of a review of court operations in the Justice of the Peace Courts, including resources, administrative office support, organization, management, operations, caseflow, training, automation and customer service.

Arnold-Berger, Karen. Municipal Court Mediation: Reducing the Barking Dog Docket. (Fall 1998). Court Review 35, no. 3: 50
Zallaps, Shaun, John Douglas, Gerald Kuban, Dawn Spencer and Willett Willis. Thornton Colorado Municipal Court Management Review. (November 1998).

The purpose of this project is to help the court adjudicate cases in the most effective and efficient manner possible by identifying operational functions that are done well and to recommend changes to those functions where the court has an opportunity to improve its delivery of services.

Bouch, Stephen, John Matthias, Jan Carol and Chang-Ming Yeh. City of Joplin Municipal Court Caseflow and Operations Assessment: Final Report. (September 1995).

The municipal court is a limited jurisdiction court. Its bench consists of one part-time judge and one judge pro-tempore who serves in the absence of the judge. The jurisdiction of the municipal court includes general misdemeanor criminal cases, traffic violations, and other violations of municipal ordinances.

Steelman, David and Adam Fleischman. Non-discretionary Assignment, Transfer, and Reassignment of Felony and Misdemeanor Cases in the Municipal Court of Marion County, Indiana. (June 1995).

This report explores the development and implementation of a non-discretionary case assignment system for criminal cases in Marion County, Indiana.

G. Thomas Munsterman. Jury System Management, Superior and Municipal Courts, Sacramento County, California.. (December 1992). Washington Office.

This report includes recommendations to assist with jury system improvement.

Municipal Court Procedures (Adults). Texas Municipal Courts Association and Texas Municipal Courts Education Center This brochure details the municipal court procedures for Tom Bean, Texas.
New Jersey Municipal Courts Listing. This resource includes a listing of municipal courts in New Jersey with contact information.
Tulsa Municipal Court. The Tulsa Municipal Court is responsible for misdemeanor traffic, parking and criminal offenses; as well as code violations for health, fire, animal, and zoning violations.
Wisconsin Municipal Court Websites. This resource includes a listing of municipal courts websites in Wisconsin.


Magistrate and Metro Court Benchbook. Judicial Education Center, University of New Mexico This resource, designed for magistrates and metropolitan court judges, provides guidance about a variety of legal procedures in New Mexico.
Mayor`s Court Handbook. (February 2008). Louisiana Municipal Organization This handbook is intended to review relevant statutes, constitutional laws, cases, opinions from the Attorney General, etc. which affect the Mayor’s Court. The handbook also defines the jurisdiction and briefly details the history of the Mayor’s Court.
Missouri Benchbook: Circuit Court - Municipal Divisions. (1990). Missouri Supreme Court, Subcommittee on Training and Certification of Municipal Judges A detailed handbook of how judges should act in terms of ethics and decision-making while in Missouri .  Numerous topics are included in the book, covering everything from pretrial proceedings and jurisdiction to sentencing and local court rules.  To help with those intimidated by its size and amount of details, a comprehensive index is provided at the end of the book.  (KFM8318 .A65 M56) 
New Mexico Municipal Benchbook. Judicial Education Center