US Civil Procedure/Jurisdiction

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Federal courts have two forms of jurisdiction. General jurisdiction covers normal civil litigation subject to two conditions. One, the two parties must come from two different states. Two, the damages claimed in the lawsuit must exceed $75,000. What this means is that, so long as both participants are US citizens, a general jurisdiction case can be heard in at least one state court as well. Either party can move for removal of the case to Federal court, which they may do for a variety of strategic reasons. Federal courts often have a shorter docket, meaning that the case may be heard more quickly than in state court.

Courts also have subject matter jurisdiction, which means that the federal courts have the power to hear the particular type of case regardless of the requirements of general jurisdiction. A short list of the type of claims that can be heard in federal court because of subject matter jurisdiction: copyright claims, civil rights claims, bankruptcy cases, and admiralty claims.

Once jurisdiction is found, the claim advances to the pleading stage of the pre-trial.