Nebraska's court system is a multi-tiered structure, much like those in most other states. It contains four levels: county courts, district courts, the Court of Appeals, and the Supreme Court.
County courts comprise the bottom tier of the structure. These courts handle criminal misdemeanor cases, small claims, probate issues, guardianship, municipal ordinance violations, and other matters. County courts also conduct preliminary hearings in felony cases and handle civil cases involving $53,000 or less.
The second contains the district courts, which are the state's general trial courts. Most criminal and civil cases may be initiated and tried by these courts. The district courts also serve as an appellate court in deciding appeals from the county courts.
The third tier, the Court of Appeals, has six judges who sit on three-judge panels. With the exception of constitutional disputes and cases dealing with the death penalty or life imprisonment, all cases may be appealed to the Court of Appeals. The three exceptions are appealed directly to the Supreme Court.
The top tier is the Supreme Court, which hears appeals and administers the state judicial system. It is served by a chief justice and six associate judges.
In addition, Nebraska has a separate Workers' Compensation Court, which has seven judges with statewide jurisdiction. This court administers and enforces provisions of the state's Workers' Compensation Act. Each case is heard by one judge, and appeals may be brought to the Court of Appeals.
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