The role of a superior court judge varies by state. In California, for instance, superior courts serve as the state's trial courts and have jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases, as well as appeals of misdemeanors and certain civil cases, according to the Santa Clara Court Superior Court.
In California, the state's constitution created municipal and superior courts to serve as trial courts. Because these court systems had overlapping jurisdictions, the state bar began a push in the early 1990s to consolidate the two, according to a legislative summary published by the McGeorge School of Law at Pacific University. As a result of these efforts, the voters of California approved Constitutional Amendment 220 in 1998. Proposition 220 allowed for each county to voluntarily consolidate the existing municipal courts and superior courts into a single superior court system. Since the passage of that proposition, each of California's 58 counties has chosen to consolidate and operate with a single, unified, superior court to handle cases on trial.