Vermont’s Superior Courts are the general jurisdiction courts for the state and the only trial courts. There are 14 counties in Vermont with one Superior Court in each.
The types of cases tried in Superior Courts are exclusive civil matters, small claims of up to $5,000, exclusive domestic relations cases, all criminal matters, all juvenile cases, and traffic violations along with ordinance infractions.
The Vermont Superior Courts are split into divisions to specialize in the handling of different types of cases. The divisions are the Civil Division, the Criminal Division, the Environmental Division, the Family Division, and the Probate Division. Each division handles only cases within their wheelhouse. For example, the family division hears cases concerning divorce, child abuse and neglect, child support, juvenile delinquency, and termination of parental rights. Some of these courts use jury trials, and others are decided by a bench trial where the judge makes the verdict.
Along with Superior Courts, the state of Vermont has a Judicial Bureau that has statewide jurisdiction over minor civil violations. These include:
Municipal ordinance violations.
Fishing, hunting, and trapping violations.
Alcohol and tobacco violations.
Burning and waste disposal violations.
Lead hazard abatement violations.
Cruelty to animal violations.
Non-criminal marijuana violations.”
In the course of a year, the Judicial Bureau sees about 93,000 issues.
The Vermont Judiciary website has dozens of resources for self-represented litigants. Their self-help section has things broken down by legal issues like adoption, abuse, small claims, divorce, housing, guardianship, and mental health issues, traffic violations, and probate matters. Patrons can pay tickets, fees and fines online, e-file a case or download forms for their type of legal problem. They even have a “Going to Court” brochure to help first-time users of the court system.