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What is the Court of Jurisdiction?

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Court jurisdiction refers to a court's authority over a certain geographical area. There are courts for every level of jurisdiction, from the local level to federal. In order for a case to go through a court, it must meet the court's jurisdiction. Person, subject matter and the nature of the judgment also come into play when determining jurisdiction.

Court Jurisdiction Types

Courts that cover a wide geographic region are often referred to as a district or superior court. There are even courts that specialize in a certain topic, such as drug court, tax court or bankruptcy court. Jurisdiction also can apply to the stage that a case is in, such as original jurisdiction or appellate jurisdiction. Federal and state courts coexist because our country was founded on the ideals of federalism, which means that each state has power, while at the same time they are united under the federal government.

State Court Jurisdiction

If a case is being tried federally, it still can have concurrent jurisdiction within a state court. Additionally, the Supreme Court can have original jurisdiction on a case or it can have an appellate jurisdiction over a case preciously tried in state court. Federal courts are generally considered the least biased because they are pulling from a larger pool of jury members. States vary in how their court system is set up, but commonly each court's jurisdiction is determined by dollar amount or subject matter.

Federal Court Jurisdiction

Federal courts often come into play when there is a conflict between states, when federal law is put into question, or when the involved are from different states and the monetary reward of the case exceeds $50,000. It is the plaintiff's responsibility to establish federal jurisdiction for a case he is bringing to the federal court.

The 94 district courts of the United States have jurisdiction to hear all federal cases for both criminal and civil cases. In addition to federal district courts, there are federal bankruptcy courts, which have exclusive rights to hear bankruptcy cases. In other words, bankruptcy cases can't be tried in state courts. There is one designated federal court each for claims against the United States and issues of foreign trade policy.

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