How Haiti's Court System Works

Haiti's court system is basically designed after the French system of civil law, the Roman Law and the Napoleonic Code. It is divided into four levels. The highest level is the Court de Cassation, which is also known as the Supreme Court. Under it are the Courts of Appeals, Courts of First Instance and Justice of the Peace Courts. Each level hast its own kinds of cases to hear and deal with.

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The Court of Cassation is composed of a president, vice-president and ten judges. The Supreme Court president is usually chosen and appointed by the country's president. There are certain requirements for Supreme Court judges. One has to be at least 30 years old and should have a decade of law practice. Only judges who have served as a judge or a public lawyer for seven years are qualified for the Supreme Court seat. The highest court deals with matters involving law and decree unconstitutionality.

The Courts of Appeals is the second level of the country's judiciary system. These are the courts who hear appeals coming from the Courts of First Instance. Criminal appeals can also be filed before the Courts of Appeals if there are serious issues involved. The Courts of Appeals are located in the cities of Port-au-Prince, Cap-Haitien, Les Cayes and Gonaves.

Meanwhile, the Courts of First Instance, which can be found in major cities, hear civil cases and criminal cases bigger than police matters. The Justice of the Peace Courts, on the other hand, work on tenant and landlord cases, as well as those that do not involve huge amounts of money.

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