Legal Terminology: LPI Word of the Month

Word of the Month:  Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is the authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a geographic area and/or over certain types of cases.  Before a lawsuit is filed, it is imperative to determine which court has jurisdiction over your matter.  State Courts have jurisdiction over matters within that state.  Different levels of courts have jurisdiction over lawsuits involving certain amounts of money for example.  Superior Courts may have jurisdiction over cases involving larger sums of money.  The jurisdiction may also be classified by subject, i.e., probate, domestic relations, guardianships, conservatorships, and trials of felonies.  In some states, there are Municipal Courts to handle cases involving smaller amounts of money, misdemeanors, and traffic matters.  Federal courts have jurisdiction over matters between citizens of different states, cases based on federal statutes, federal crimes, and bankruptcy case appeals, to name a few examples.  It is possible that more than one court will have jurisdiction, so the lawyer filing the case may make a tactical decision in choosing where to file. 

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