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Overview of the Michigan Court System

The courts in Michigan's judicial system, like those in many other states, may be divided into three tiers: the trial courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.

The bottom tier, the trial courts, may be further divided into the probate, district, and circuit courts.

The probate courts deal with wills, estate succession, appointments of guardians and conservators, and probate issues.

The district courts hear criminal misdemeanor cases, civil cases with claims of up to $25,000, traffic violations, and small claims.

The circuit court is the court with the broadest powers in Michigan, hearing all criminal felony cases and civil matters involving more than $25,000. The family division of the circuit courts hears cases involving divorce, paternity, adoption, and protection orders. In addition, the circuit courts hear appeals from other trial courts and administrative agencies.

Just above the trial courts is the Court of Appeals, which hears appeals from the lower courts.

If dissatisfied with the decision of the Court of Appeals, parties may appeal to the Supreme Court, the top tier in the judicial system. The Supreme Court also handles bar admissions, court procedure oversight and other administrative tasks.

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