In California, the Superior Court is a first instance trial court. All state judicial matters begin in a Superior Court, and this level is where most matters are dealt with, making Superior Courts the largest part of the California Judiciary. There are 58 Superior Courts, or one for each county. Judges are elected for six year terms by voters and must have been a member of the State Bar for ten years. Each Court has between 1 and 1000 judges, depending on county population.
Originally, there were two levels of first instance courts, one having jurisdiction over petty matters and the other hearing felony cases, major civil cases and first level petty appeals. The lower court was known as a Municipal or Justice Court. The higher court was called the Superior Court. In the 1990s, the lower courts were merged with the Superior Courts to decrease costs and streamline the process.