What is a County Courthouse?Our User Guide describes a County Courthouse as the primary building out of which the highest court in the county operates. County courthouses must contain an active courtroom.
Additional characteristics of a County Courthouse may include the building being open to the public, a county judge operating out of that building, as well as the county clerk having an office in the building.
Please note that this feature class does not include county administration buildings.Nor does it include city/municipal, appellate, or federal level courthouses.
Where can I find authoritative lists of County Courthouses?
Most states maintain a state judiciary website (e.g., Colorado’s Judicial Branch website) that describes the state’s court system. Such websites usually include a web-page that lists all of the courts throughout the state. County websites also frequently have information about the county court system along with directions to the courthouse for jurors.
Another helpful resource is the National Center for State Courts (NCSC). NCSC provides links to state judiciary websites while also providing a “Court Structure Chart” that visually depicts the state’s court hierarchy. These structure charts are especially helpful for identifying which type of court is the highest county-level court. Each structure chart includes links to the state’s judiciary website.
Courtreference.com is another helpful website that lists all the courts by county in each state.
Check out our Authoritative Sources List for more on the types of sources that are acceptable.
Larger counties may have a judicial “campus” that consists of buildings and houses other structures such as the county sheriff’s office or the county jail. Among these, you may be able to tell which building contains the courtroom from Google Street View™, from an online facility map, or by examining the photo of the building entrance on its webpage and comparing this to the building footprint in the satellite image. If this is the case, place the point on the building which contains the courtroom for the highest level county court.
There are also instances where the county court system is dispersed into multiple buildings across the region, resulting in multiple courtrooms. In these instances, if there are multiple locations that contain a courtroom for the highest level county court, then each location should be captured by a county courthouse point. An example would be 15th Judicial Circuit Court in Palm Beach County, Florida. The circuit court is the highest level county court in Florida, and 15th Judicial Circuit Court lists multiple courthouses (e.g., Judge Daniel T K Hurley Courthouse, Palm Beach Criminal Justice Complex, Palm Beach North County Courthouse, Palm Beach South County Courthouse, and Palm Beach West County Courthouse), all of which are located in Palm Beach County, Florida.
It is important to note that we are not collecting the location of individual court systems. We are only collecting the building that houses the courtroom(s) for the highest level county court.
When naming a courthouse, try to determine the name of the building. Contact information on government websites usually includes the building name with the address. An example would be Michigan’s Lenawee County Circuit Court located in the “Rex B Martin Judicial Building.”
Our Name and Address Formatting Guidelines document has a few examples of how to properly format a name for this structure type. Our User Guide also provides a thorough walkthrough of the courthouse naming process.
What is a State Supreme Court?A State Supreme Court is a type of appellate court (a state's court of last resort) and operates as the highest court within each state. As a result, there is typically only one state supreme court structure point for each state. State supreme courts rarely hold trials since their primary focus is the review of legal matters.
Please note that this feature class does not include state administration buildings.Nor does it include city, county, or federal level courthouses.
State Supreme Courthouses typically consist of one large building, which are often in close proximity to the state’s capitol building. Volunteers should use information from state websites along with aerial imagery to identify which building houses the state’s supreme court, and then place the point on the center of this building.
Similar to county courthouses, try to determine the name of the building. Contact information on government websites usually includes the building name with the address. Our Name and Address Formatting Guide has a few examples of how to properly format a name for this structure type. Our User Guide also provides a thorough walkthrough of the courthouse naming process.