While several municipalities located in Madison County have courts, the circuit courts are Alabama’s trial courts of “general jurisdiction” – meaning that these courts have the power to decide all cases that can be brought into a court under the Constitution and laws of the State. The circuit courts have exclusive, original jurisdiction of all civil actions in which the amount in controversy exceeds $10,000 and concurrent jurisdiction with the district courts in civil actions in which the amount exceeds $3,000. The circuit courts have exclusive original jurisdiction over domestic relations cases, felony criminal cases, and capital murder cases. Circuit courts also have the authority to hear cases appealed from any court of limited jurisdiction (i.e., municipal courts, probate courts, and district courts). A case appealed from a municipal, probate or district court will be tried de novo – meaning the case tried again – in circuit court, often with a jury, just as if it had not previously been heard in lower court. Circuit courts are also “courts of record” meaning all proceedings are recorded and available for transcription by an official court reporter.
The District courts of Alabama are a trial court of “limited jurisdiction.” The original civil jurisdiction of the district courts of Alabama, concurrent with the circuit court, shall include all civil actions in which the matter in controversy does not exceed $10,000 and all civil actions based upon unlawful detainer. The district courts have exclusive jurisdiction over all civil actions in which the matter in controversy does not exceed $3,000. The district courts shall have concurrent jurisdiction with the circuit court to receive pleas of guilty in felony cases not punishable by sentence of death. The district courts have jurisdiction over misdemeanor criminal cases and traffic cases. District Courts have jurisdiction to hold preliminary hearings in prosecutions for felony criminal offenses. Juvenile courts have exclusive jurisdiction of juvenile court proceedings in which a child is alleged to have committed a delinquent act, to be dependent, or to be in need of supervision. Madison County has a juvenile referee that handles various kinds of juvenile and child-support cases.
Jane Smith was elected as Circuit Clerk of Madison County Alabama and assumed office in January 2001. Jane began her career working in the Madison County Circuit clerk’s office in 1973. The Circuit Clerk is a full time elective office for a period of six years. The Circuit Clerk is the custodian of all pleadings and documents in the Circuit and District Courts. Jane Smith may be contacted at 256-532-3390 or by link to