Courts can only hear cases over which they have jurisdiction. The federal government has limited enumerated powers and passes laws only on select issues that relate to interstate commerce, taxation and foreign policy. The majority of laws are passed by the states and thus the cases are heard in state courts. This includes real estate questions; probate and inheritance questions; divorce and family law cases; most criminal cases; contract disputes; and personal injury claims.
Federal courts, however, do have the power to preside over certain legal cases. If you would prefer your case to be heard in federal court, you should speak with your attorney about whether there are grounds for federal jurisdiction or not. Deciding where to file a case can be extremely complicated and a knowledgeable legal professional at Sepahi Law Group, APC should be consulted for advice on this important strategic decision.
Can My Case Be Heard in Federal Court?
Federal courts have jurisdiction over specific issues. Some of the different cases the federal court can hear include:
- Cases questioning whether a law is constitutional
- Cases involving a treaty of the United States
- Claims involving public ministers or ambassadors
- Disputes that occur between two or more different states
- Cases arising from admiralty law
- Bankruptcy cases
- Cases arising under the Securities and Exchange Act (SEC) or other federal legislation
- Cases arising from federal tax law
- Cases where diversity jurisdiction exists
In some situations, the federal court has exclusive jurisdiction. This means claims may only be heard in federal court. Examples include bankruptcy cases and tax law cases involving the Internal Revenue Service.
In other situations, concurrent jurisdiction exists. This means that the claim could be brought either in federal court or in state court. When there is a choice of courts, plaintiffs and defendants may engage in forum shopping or trying to find the court that is most likely to provide a favorable outcome.
For many commercial litigation cases, the claim can be heard in federal court because of diversity jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction is a legal term that means a federal court can hear a case if there is diversity of citizenship of the litigants. If the plaintiffs and the defendants live in different states or if the dispute has arisen between a U.S. citizen and a citizen of a different country, then diversity jurisdiction may exist. The court will hear cases under diversity jurisdiction only in situations where the outcome of the case involves more than $75,000 in potential damages.
San Diego Commercial Litigation Advice and Guidance
An experienced attorney can help to determine if diversity jurisdiction makes it possible for your claim to be heard in federal court. Call the Sepahi Law Group APC today to speak with a member of our legal team and learn more.