Each state has a parallel system of courts. Some cases are within the jurisdiction of the state courts, and some are within the jurisdiction of the federal courts. Most cases, both civil and criminal, relate to state laws and are heard and decided in state courts. What types of cases are within the jurisdiction of the federal courts?
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Federal courts are established under the U.S. Constitution by Congress to decide disputes involving the Constitution and laws passed by Congress. State and local courts are established by a state (within states there are also local courts that are established by cities, counties, and other municipalities, which we are including in the general discussion of state courts).
The differences between federal courts and state courts are further defined by jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the kinds of cases a court is authorized to hear.
Federal court jurisdiction is limited to the types of cases listed in the Constitution and specifically provided for by Congress. For the most part, federal courts only hear
cases in which the United States is a party.
cases involving violations of the U.S. Constitution or federal laws (under federal-question jurisdiction).
cases between citizens of different states if the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000 (under diversity jurisdiction); and
bankruptcy, copyright, patent, and maritime law cases.
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Jan 11th, 2016
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