Hawaii’s Circuit Courts are trial courts and have general jurisdiction over both civil and criminal cases in the state. Additionally, they have exclusive jurisdiction over criminal felony cases, guardianship and probate cases along with civil matters when the amount is more than $40,000. These courts share concurrent jurisdiction with District Courts in non-jury civil cases where the amount in question is between $10,000 and $40,000. Hawaii Circuit Courts are spread over four circuits that are designated by the major islands that make up the state. They are divided as follows:
- First Circuit – Consists of the island of O’ahu and other islands of the State not in any other circuit.
- Second Circuit – Consists of the islands of Maui, Moloka’i, Lana’i, Kaho’olawe and Molokini.
- Third Circuit – Consists of the island of Hawai’i.
- Fifth Circuit – Consists of the islands of Kaua’i and Ni’ihau.
Some of the types of cases heard in Circuit Courts are mechanics’ liens and misdemeanor offenses that have been referred from District Courts to be processed as a jury trial.
Hawaii’s State Judiciary website is well laid out with easy access to Circuit Court locations, judge’s biographies, hours of operation and support. They have all the forms needed for a Circuit Court case posted on the website for download. They also clearly list the fees involved. Hawaii also extends electronic access to Circuit Court records online through their website plus they offer e-filing for certain types of cases that involve self-represented individuals.
The Hawaii Circuit Courts also perform other functions and have special programs for things like creating and managing the jury pool, filing, and maintenance of legal documents, an adult probation program, coordination with court reporters, and records management.
For the last year tallied, Hawaii’s Circuit Courts saw a total of 16,650 for all cases. Of those, 3,310 were for civil cases, 4,564 were for criminal offenses, 1,523 were for probate matters, and the remaining were for miscellaneous legal issues, trusts, conservatorships, and guardianships.