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23rd Alaska State Legislature
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District Courts and Small Claims
Sponsor Statement for CSHB 227(JUD)
Alaska State Legislature
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Last Updated:
March 5, 2004
Vanessa Tondini
Judiciary Committee Aide
465-4990 (Jan-May)
269-0250 (June-Dec)









"The jurisdictional limit on small claims court and magistrate court was last raised in 1997 when the legislature raised the limit from $5000 to $7500."
- Rep. McGuire

 

"An Act increasing the jurisdictional limit for small claims and for magistrates from $7,500 to $10,000; increasing the jurisdictional limit of district courts in certain civil cases from $50,000 to $75,000; and amending Rule 11(a)(4), Alaska District Court Rules of Civil Procedure, relating to service of process for small claims."

The jurisdictional limit for district courts was last raised in 1990 when the legislature raised the limit from $35,000 to $50,000. By raising the jurisdictional limit from $50,000 to $100,000, this bill will allow for increases in inflation and provide increased flexibility for litigants regarding whether to file in district court or superior court.

The jurisdictional limit on small claims court and magistrate court was last raised in 1997 when the legislature raised the limit from $5000 to $7500. Small claims court offers many advantages over district court to private litigants, including less formal discovery requirements, reduced filing fees, and relaxed evidentiary rules. This bill will increase the limit to $10,000.

The bill also removes prohibitions against the district court hearing claims for false imprisonment, libel, slander, and malicious prosecution. These restrictions were adopted shortly after statehood. District court judges are well qualified and there is no reason to prohibit them from hearing these types of cases.

Finally, the bill will expand small claims jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants. Under current law, small claims actions against out-of-state defendants may only be brought under the landlord-tenant act or under AS 09.05.020, which authorizes service of process against owners or operators of motor vehicles involved in an accident in the state. The bill would authorize small claims jurisdiction over out-of-state defendants under traditional long-arm principles. This expanded long-arm jurisdiction is limited to district court judges. Magistrates will continue to limited by the standards set forth in current law.

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