The North Dakota judicial system consists of the Supreme Court, Court of Appeals, District Courts, and Municipal Courts. The judiciary of the State is responsible for providing an equal and fair system of justice to citizens of North Dakota.
The Supreme Court is the highest court in the state of North Dakota. It is composed of five justices elected in a non-partisan election for ten-year terms. Each justice must be a licensed attorney and a citizen of the United States and North Dakota.
One member of the Supreme Court is selected as Chief Justice by the justices of the Supreme Court and the judges of the district courts. The Chief Justice's term is five years. The Chief Justice's duties include presiding over Supreme Court conferences, representing the judiciary at official state functions, and serving as the administrative head of the judicial system.
In its judging capacity, the Supreme Court is primarily an appellate court with the responsibility of hearing appeals from decisions of the district courts and the Court of Appeals.
In its administrative capacity, the Supreme Court has major responsibility for ensuring the efficient and effective operation of all non-federal courts in the state, maintaining high standards of judicial conduct, supervising the legal profession, and adopting procedural rules which allow for the orderly and efficient transaction of judicial business.
Jurisdiction of Supreme Court
The supreme court may exercise appellate jurisdiction only, except when otherwise specially provided by law or by the constitution. Such court, in the exercise of its original jurisdiction, may issue writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, quo warranto, certiorari, and injunction.
In the exercise of its appellate jurisdiction, and in its superintending control over inferior courts, it may issue such original and remedial writs as are necessary to the proper exercise of such jurisdiction. Such court shall exercise its original jurisdiction only in habeas corpus cases and in such cases of strictly public concern as involve questions affecting the sovereign rights of this state or its franchises or privileges.
COURT OF APPEALS
The Court of Appeals hears only the cases assigned to it by the Supreme Court. It is composed of three judges chosen from among active and retired district court judges, retired justices of the Supreme Court, and attorneys.
The Supreme Court assigns cases to the Court of Appeals from among those cases filed with it. Some years the Supreme Court assigns no cases to the Court of Appeals.
The district courts are the courts of general jurisdiction in North Dakota. They have original and general jurisdiction in all cases, including criminal felony and misdemeanor cases, and general jurisdiction for civil cases.
The district courts also serve as the juvenile courts in the state and have exclusive and original jurisdiction over any minor who is alleged to be unruly, delinquent, or deprived.
Jurisdiction of district courts
The district courts of this state have the general jurisdiction conferred upon the courts by the constitution, and in the exercise of that jurisdiction the courts have power to issue all writs, process, and commissions provided therein or by law or which may be necessary for the due execution of the powers with which the courts are vested. The courts have:
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
The jurisdiction of this court is confined to cases for recovery of money, or the cancellation of any agreement involving material fraud, deception, misrepresentation, or false promise, where the value of the agreement or the amount claimed by the plaintiff or the defendant does not exceed five thousand dollars.
The proceedings in this court must be commenced: