Courts exist to impartially resolve disputes and interpret questions of law brought to the courts in the form of cases. Cases filed with the courts involve a broad scope of problems and issues, including contract disputes, family matters, criminal violations, landlord-tenant disputes, personal injury claims, property condemnation battles, employment matters and assertions of constitutional rights.
All cases begin in district court. However, sometimes a party who disagrees with a district court decision will ask a higher court, known as an appellate court, to review the decision. This process is called an appeal. In Iowa, all appeals are filed with the supreme court. The supreme court retains certain cases to decide itself, and transfers other cases to the court of appeals for a decision. A litigant who is dissatisfied with a court of appeals decision may seek further review by the supreme court.