Courts and Jurisdiction

Questions to Consider

Consider these questions while reading this module:

  • How are the state and federal courts structured?
  • What are the different functions of a trial court? an appellate court?
  • What is jurisdiction?
    • What is the difference between subject matter and personal jurisdiction?
    • What is the difference between exclusive and concurrent jurisdiction?
    • What are examples of each?
  • How do the federal courts acquire subject matter jurisdiction?
    • What is “federal question” jurisdiction?
    • What is “diversity of citizenship” jurisdiction? Why did the Constitution authorize individuals from different states to bring cases based on state law in the federal courts?
  • How do the courts acquire personal jurisdiction over the parties to the lawsuit?
  • What is “standing?” What is “venue?” How do these doctrines operate in determining who can bring a law suit and where it should be brought?
  • What are “forum-selection” and “choice of law” clauses and why do parties sometimes incorporate them into a contract?