Iowa has a 3-tier court system; at the lowest level are the District Courts (including Juvenile Courts). On higher levels there are two Appellate Courts – the Iowa Court of Appeals and the Iowa Supreme Court. Appendix A shows a diagram (2007) of the court structure.
The District Courts (also called trial courts), are where most cases are heard in the first instance. According to the referenced article: “Public Information> About the Courts>Structure and People” District Courts have “general jurisdiction of all civil, criminal, juvenile, and probate matters in the state”. There are five types of judges, listed in the articles as: “judicial magistrates, associate juvenile judges, associate probate judges, district associate judges, and district court judges” each type having specific powers of jurisdiction. Judicial magistrates, serving mostly in their own county, deal mainly with “simple misdemeanors, including scheduled violations, county and municipal infractions, and small claims”. They also have authority in matters such as issuing search warrants, and conducting preliminary hearings. Associate juvenile judges deal only with juvenile cases and have authority in respect of adoptions. Associate probate judges officiate in probate cases, whereas district associate judges have the same authority as judicial magistrates plus they can preside over cases of serious or aggravated misdemeanours, some civil cases, and juvenile cases (if sitting in that role). District judges can hear any District Courts case and often travel to provide judicial facilities in all Iowa counties.
The appellate courts deal with appeals – usually arising from a District Court decision where those involved ask for the case to be referred to a higher court. All such appeals go to the Iowa Supreme Court. However, that court may transfer a case to the Court of Appeals for consideration. There are seven judges in the Supreme Court and nine in the Court of Appeals.
“Iowa Court Structure” (diagram). (2007). Web. 27 August 2012. http://www.docstoc.com/docs/917459/IOWA-Court-Structure-Free-Legal-Report
“Public Information> About the Courts>Structure and People”. (n.d.). Web. 27 August 2012. http://www.iowacourts.gov/Public_Information/About_the_Courts/Structure/