The Commonwealth Superior Court is the trial court and exercises general jurisdiction over civil and criminal cases. The Superior Court also oversees specialized matters including probate, juvenile cases, administrative appeals, and traffic violations. Trials are usually held at the Guma’ Hustisia, Iimwal Aweewe, House of Justice on Saipan, but the Court conducts proceedings at the Tinian Courthouse and the Rota Judicial Center when necessary.
Depending upon the type of matter before the Court, either a judge or a jury decides cases. The Commonwealth Judiciary does not have an intermediate appellate level, so parties may appeal Superior Court decisions directly to the Commonwealth Supreme Court.
The Superior Court is comprised of five judges and support staff. Judges are appointed by the Governor, confirmed by the Senate, and serve six-year terms. If a judge wishes to continue to serve for another term, he or she must receive a majority of the votes cast in a retention election conducted during the general election that immediately precedes the expiration of his or her term.
In addition to presiding over legal matters, the Superior Court also oversees the Superior Court Clerk of Court’s Office, the Family Court Division, the Office of Adult Probation, and the Commonwealth Recorder’s Office.