Weaknesses of Limited Jurisdiction Courts
1. Not courts of record: you do not have an official court reporter typing up proceedings – no record is kept on proceedings. This means that if you decide to appeal, you take your case to the next level: Courts of General Jurisdiction and the appeal is called a De Novo Appeal.
De Novo Appeals: Case must be reheard in the Court of General Jurisdiction. One case is being heard completely twice. This is problematic as it causes an over-loaded caseload for the Courts of General Jurisdiction.
2. Underfunding: State of Texas, for many years, provided no money to these courts, so they were expected to come up with the money to pay their salary through implementing fines and court costs. Recently, Texas has begun to send them money, but still smaller amounts.
3. Lack of Legal Training: in most states, judges at this level are not required to be lawyers. They don’t even need college degree. In Texas, Justice of Peace requirement is to be a registered voter.
North v. Russell: Asked US Supreme Court whether a state could have judges that have no legal training, State Courts said they can have “lay judges” at this level.
4. Lack of Residence: Many of these courts don’t have court rooms and go anywhere they can hold proceedings.
5. Assembly Line Format: Produce a product as quickly as possible, goal is efficiency. In this regard, they want to process cases as quickly and effectively as possible. Not really concerned with individualized justice, they just want to get through the cases.