Personal Injury Lawyer
The United States of America has generally two court systems, one at the federal level and one at the state level. Each court system was established separately and hears different matters. (i.e., legal issues). In certain circumstances, the federal court can act as an appellate court for certain state decisions. No matter the court system however, it is always imperative to work with a lawyer experienced in your case type. For example, if you are facing a personal injury, it’s important to work with a personal injury lawyer who has a proven track record.
The federal court system was given judicial power by the United States Constitution. Specifically, Article III, Section 1 creates the U.S. Supreme Court and gives Congress the power and authority to create the lower federal courts. The U.S. Supreme Court is made up of nine (9) justices. Its decisions are binding on all lower courts, state and federal. At the federal level, there are district and circuit courts.
The district courts hear cases involving violations of federal laws, cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law, cases that deal with laws and treaties of the U.S., and even disputes between two states. The circuit courts hear cases that were previously heard in the lower district court with the unfavorable party filing an appeal. Each state has its own federal district court and there are 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. Each state belongs to a specific circuit. When a case is appealed from a district court decision, that case is then heard in the corresponding circuit court of appeals. Additionally, a party may re-appeal and ask the U.S. Supreme Court to review an unfavorable Circuit court decision. Although the U.S. Supreme Court is the final arbiter of federal constitutional questions, it is required to do so and will likely only do so when there is a split in authority between the circuits, the legal question presented is new, and/or the legal question presented is of significant social importance.
Similarly, the Constitution allows the states to create state courts along with the laws of each state. A state supreme court is the highest court in that state and is often referred to as “a court of last resort.” Many states have established specific courts to deal with certain types of matters such as probate court (trusts and wills), juvenile court (juvenile criminal matters), and family court (child custody). On a broad scale view, the trial courts hear state claims involving contracts, torts, family law, and mostly, criminal cases. For example, in Nevada, there are small claims courts for civil claims with damages totaling less than $10,000 and justice courts for civil claims exceeding $15,000.00. State supreme courts are the final arbiters of state laws and constitutions. Only certain state cases are eligible for review by the U.S. Supreme Court. For example, petitions for habeus corpus where a criminally convicted defendant seeks review by the U.S. Supreme Court after exhausting all state court appellate processes. Thanks to Eglet Adams for their insight on the federal and state court system in the United States. If you have any further questions about how the court system works, do not hesitate to reach out to a dedicated lawyer.