After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:
- Describe the two different court systems in the United States, and explain why some cases can be filed in either court system.
- Explain the importance of subject matter jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction and know the difference between the two.
- Describe the various stages of a civil action: from pleadings, to discovery, to trial, and to appeals.
- Describe two alternatives to litigation: mediation and arbitration.
In the United States, law and government are interdependent. The Constitution establishes the basic framework of government and imposes certain limitations on the powers of government. In turn, the various branches of government are intimately involved in making, enforcing, and interpreting the law. Today, much of the law comes from Congress and the state legislatures. But it is in the courts that legislation is interpreted and prior case law is interpreted and applied.
- 3.2: The Relationship between State and Federal Court Systems in the United States
- Although it is sometimes said that there are two separate court systems, the reality is more complex. There are, in fact, fifty-two court systems: those of the fifty states, the local court system in the District of Columbia, and the federal court system. At the same time, these are not entirely separate; they all have several points of contact.