Department Description: There is a District Court in each of the 44 counties of the state. These courts are divided into seven judicial districts with four to ten counties in each district. Clearwater County is one of five counties which comprise the Second Judicial District. District Court is divided into two sections, the District Court and the Magistrate Division. District Judges are elected by qualified electors in district-wide elections on a non-partisan ballot every four years.
Magistrates are appointed by a District Magistrate Commission. After initial appointment to a two-year term, a Magistrate may be re-elected on a retention ballot to a four-year term. Clearwater County shares a District Judge with Idaho and Lewis counties, and has one resident Magistrate Judge.
The District Judge has original jurisdiction in all cases and proceedings; in the issuance of writs of mandamus, certiorari, prohibition, habeas corpus and all writs necessary to the exercise of his/her powers; appellate jurisdiction extends to all cases assigned to the Magistrate’s division of the District Court and to all other matters and cases where an appeal is allowed by law. The Magistrate Judge is responsible for infractions/trials, misdemeanors/trials, small claims court, felony probable-cause hearings/felony preliminary hearings, divorce proceedings, domestic violence hearings and is granted jurisdiction in civil proceedings where the amount in controversy does not exceed $10,000.
Both District and Magistrate Judges conduct jury trials; each issues subpoenas, warrants of arrest and each hears probation violation matters.