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What Is Different About Federal Court?

Mainly, there are a lot more rules. But there are times when it’s a better place for a trial.

First, not many cases can be tried in federal court. To be in federal court, as a general rule either:
1) You can’t be suing anyone from your own state, and the case has to be worth more than $75,000.00 OR
2) You have to be asking the court to enforce rights you have under a federal law – for instance, a federal civil rights law, or an FELA (railroad) or admiralty claim.

If your lawsuit is eligible for federal court, your lawyer has the choice of whether to file in federal or state court. If you file in state court because your lawsuit fits under number (1), above, any of the defendants can have the case moved into federal court just by filing the appropriate papers in the clerk’s office.

Why would you want to be in federal court?

Lawyers used to think that you were more likely to get a high verdict in federal court. That may have changed – most of the judges appointed during the two Bush and Reagan administrations are conservative.

Federal court does have the reputation of being more formal; procedural rules are more vigorously enforced than in state court. In a word, the judges are pickier. They are less tolerant of lawyers’ mistakes.

But if you have a good case, and if you work hard, that should not matter that much. I don’t file suits unless I have a good case, and I always work hard.

In the Federal court that tries cases in Cincinnati, there are three judges who hear cases full time – Judge Barrett, Judge Black, and Judge Dlott. So if you file in Federal Court, you have a pretty good idea who will be handling your case.

On the other hand, a lawsuit in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court – the state court alternative for cases in Cincinnati – will be heard by one of 16 judges.

Federal judges are appointed for life. State court judges in Ohio are elected for six year terms.

Federal court can be a better court for civil rights cases, and for lawsuits against state government officials.

I like to be in federal court if that is an option. The judges try harder to settle cases. They all pay attention to the cases they have, and listen hard to what lawyers have to say.

This is true of most state court judges; but the state court judges have less time and more cases. And if there is an advantage to a lawyer in working harder, it is more likely to become apparent in federal court.

I have been a lawyer over 30 years. I have had cases in the U.S. District Courts for Southern Ohio and Eastern Kentucky (There is a courtroom in Covington), as well as in the local Federal Appeals Court, the Sixth District Court of Appeals. If you want to talk about the best place to file your lawsuit, talk with an experienced Cincinnati Injury Lawyer about the case. Call me, William Strubbe, at 513-621-4775.

Because all situations are different, and because there may be other facts pertaining to your case that I don’t know about, you should not rely on this answer for legal advice. I am not your attorney, and no lawyer client relationship has been formed.

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