COURTS OF SAN ANDREAS
The Courts of San Andreas ('the Courts') is the judicial branch of government of the State of San Andreas. The Courts are responsible for the interpretation and application of law in San Andreas. The Courts oversee the adjudication of private disputes between individuals, appeals by citizens against actions of the State and its agents, as well the supervision of criminal prosecutions by the State.
The Courts are one of the three branches of the State of San Andreas, the other being the legislative and executive branches. The Courts play an essential role in the separation of powers by upholding the rule of law and ensuring everyone, including the government, abides by the law.
The Courts are divided into two main units: the Supreme Court of San Andreas and the Superior Court of San Andreas. The Courts are led by the Chief Justice of San Andreas, who is appointed by the Governor of San Andreas.
- SUPREME COURT OF SAN ANDREAS
The Supreme Court of San Andreas is the highest court within the judicial system. It is the first and only appellate court, meaning that it has the "final say" on the law in San Andreas and its rulings are binding on all future decisions made below in the Superior Court by way of stare decisis.
The Supreme Court hears appeals directly from the Superior Court of San Andreas when individuals feel the lower court has made an error in the application of the law to their case. As an appellate court, the Supreme Court is mainly concerned with questions of law rather than questions of fact. This means that the Supreme Court does not provide a forum for a "new trial" to take place. Rather, the Supreme Court will hear arguments from parties to an appeal about whether the judge in the lower court correctly applied established law to the facts of the case and made a logical ruling on that basis.
The Supreme Court may uphold, dismiss or alter the ruling of the lower court. Additionally, it may also order that a new trial take place in the Superior Court. Cases before the Supreme Court may be accepted or declined at the discretion of the Chief Justice of San Andreas. Cases accepted for appeal before the Supreme Court shall be presided over by the Chief Justice and two associate justices appointed by the Chief Justice.
- SUPERIOR COURT OF SAN ANDREAS
The Superior Court is a general trial court and the court of first instance within San Andreas. It is a court of inherent jurisdiction, meaning it has the jurisdiction to hear any matter that comes before it, unless a statute or rule limits that authority or grants exclusive jurisdiction to another court or tribunal. The Superior Court is presided over by judges appointed by the Chief Justice of San Andreas.
The Superior Court is comprised of five separate divisions: the Civil, Criminal, Appellate, Traffic and Small Claims divisions.
- Civil Division
The Civil Division hears all civil-related matters (contract disputes, landlord-tenant issues, employment matters, personal injuries and other private disputes). The Civil Division may also be the first court where citizens challenge a law or ordinance passed by any level of government (municipal or state) for conflicting with existing law or being unconstitutional.
The Criminal Division is tasked with hearing criminal prosecutions, where the State brings criminal charges against an accused individual (such as The People of San Andreas v. John Doe).
Not to be confused with the Criminal Division, the Appellate Division is tasked with hearing criminal appeals by individuals who wish to contest their arrest. After an individual is arrested by a peace officer, they may file a criminal appeal in the Appellate Division. The judge presiding over the case will first determine whether the peace officer had sufficient probable cause to arrest the appellant by examining the police report or warrant used to conduct the arrest.
If sufficient probable cause is not found, the court will order that the appellant immediately be released from custody and their charge(s) expunged. If the judge finds there is sufficient probable cause to allow the arrest, the appellant may still choose to proceed to trial where they may further argue that the arrest was made illegally, violated procedure, or dispute the material facts of the case against them.
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Small Claims Division
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- Civil Division
III. Judges and Judicial Officers
Hon. Tim Shieldsy
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