State judges are chosen a few different ways, including appointment, merit selection and elections. For judges that are elected, there are two different types: partisan elections, where judges are selected and voted into the position by the electorate and run affiliated with a political party; and non-partisan elections, where judges run for election on a ballot but don't list the political party they're affiliated with. Some states hold retention elections to determine whether a current judge should continue to serve.
When a state judge is appointed, he's done so by the governor of a legislature of the state, depending on the rules of that state. When a judge is selected by merit selection, this is done by a legislative committee based on the candidate's past performance.
There are a number of different courts on the state level for judges to preside over. Family court is the court where child support, divorce issues and other family-related matters are heard. A probate or surrogate's court that oversees trusts and guardianship cases. Probate court is also the court that oversees the distribution of the property of a deceased person. A few states have landlord-tenant courts where disputes between landlords and tenants are heard, and small claims court, which oversees cases where individuals are seeking monetary relief from another person or entity.