The Vermont Judiciary
system consists of seven state courts: the Supreme Court, the
Superior Court, the District Court, the Family Court, the
Probate Court, the
and the Vermont Judicial Bureau.
The Supreme Court, the state's highest court, consists of a
chief justice and four associate justices. For the most
part, it hears appeals of cases that have been decided by the
other courts. No evidence is presented during an appeal; the
attorneys argue in writing and in the courtroom as to why they
think the decision made in the lower court should be changed or
remain the same. If the Supreme Court overrules the decision of
the trial court, it is done solely on issues of law. The
Supreme Court rarely reviews the jury's decision on the facts.
The Supreme Court also has overall administrative control of the
court system and makes administrative and procedural rules for
Supreme Court offers a simulation program for students. For
more information, please contact Alice Merrill at 802-828-1411
The Superior Court hears predominantly civil cases
including small claims cases in which people sue for $3,500 or
less. On occasion it hears criminal cases. Each county has two
assistant judges who sit with one of the Superior Court judges
in most cases. The assistant judges (who need not be attorneys)
are elected county officials who are responsible for county
affairs in addition to their responsibilities in court.
The District Court hears predominantly criminal cases.
Assistant judges do not sit in the District Court.
The Family Court hears divorces, juvenile, domestic abuse, and
child support cases. The District and Superior Court judges as
well as assistant judges are assigned to the Family Court.
The Probate Court handles the probate of wills, the settlement
of estates, adoptions, guardianships, name changes, and uniform
gifts to minors. There are 18 Probate Court judges who are
elected for four-year terms. There is no requirement that the
judges of probate be attorneys.
The Environmental Court hears appeals of Act 250 enforcement
orders issued by the executive branch and also hears appeals of
zoning decisions made by cities and towns.
Vermont Judicial Bureau
The Vermont Judicial Bureau hears traffic ticket cases and
violations of municipal ordinances, and some fish and wildlife
violations, and others including hazing and minors possessing
There is trial-by-jury
only in Superior and District Courts. Most jury work in
Superior Court is civil. Most jury work in District Court is
For more information
about Vermont's Judiciary, visit