The District Courts share concurrent jurisdiction with the Superior Courts in general civil cases. However, the District Court is the "proper" division for general civil cases where the amount in controversy is $10,000 or less. Civil cases in District Court may be tried before a jury; appeals are to the Court of Appeals
All civil cases involving claims for money damages of $15,000 or less are subject to court-ordered, non-binding arbitration (with the exception of collection cases where the sole cause of action is for collection on account). Certain property disputes, family law matters, estates, special proceedings, and class actions are excluded from court-ordered arbitration. If a case is not resolved at arbitration, it may be appealed and heard before a judge or jury.
In District Civil Court, cases are monitored by the District Court Case Coordinator from the point of filing to the entry of the final disposition. First, the case is monitored for service of the complaint on all defendants. Next, the case is tracked for filing of all answers with the Clerk of Court. Once all the answers have been filed, or the time to do so has expired, the Case Coordinator will either assign a trial date to the case or if the case is eligible for arbitration, the case will be coded for the ADR Coordinator to schedule for arbitration.
A published calendar with the cases appearing for trial during that session will be completed approximately 30 to 40 days in advance of the trial date. The published calendars are sent to the Clerk of Court's Office for distribution and posted on the State website. A final calendar is published each week for the next week's session. The final calendar is posted to the website no later than 2:00 p.m. the last business day prior to the start of the session.
The trial session will begin at 9:00 am on Monday morning, or the first day of the session, with a Calendar Call for the jury trials. Attorneys and/or parties are required to attend calendar call in order to advise the court of the estimated trial length, the lead time requested to assemble parties and to provide jury instructions, pre-trial memorandums and proposed verdict sheets. Immediately following Calendar Call, add-on motions for jury trials will be heard. At 9:30 am the Magistrates Appeal Trial Calendar will be called and the trials will begin for these cases. Next, at 11:30 am, the Collection on Account Bench Trials involving pro se defendants will be called and the trials will begin for these cases. The cases appearing on the jury trial calendar may be called to begin trial as early as Monday at 1:30 pm. The morning session should adjourn by 12:30 pm.
The District Court Motion and Clean-Up calendars follow the same pattern of publication as the trial calendars. The motions calendar is on Friday mornings and is scheduled in half hour increments from 9:00 am to 11:00 am. To schedule a motion in District Court, parties/attorneys must call the Caseflow Management Division with the case number, type of motion, estimated time needed for the motion to be heard and the requesting party's name. The motion will be placed on the next published calendar and the setting party must complete a notice of hearing within 48 hours of getting the date for the motion to be heard.
Clean-Up calendars are used to bring disposition to cases that are in violation of the local rules or need other judicial review. All matters on the Clean-Up calendar should be addressed prior to the session date. Further detail is provided in the Local Rules.