Origins of the Federal Court System


What is jurisdiction?

Jurisdiction refers to the legal power and authority of a court to hear and decide a case. When a court is said to have jurisdiction, it means that the court is the proper forum to decide the legal controversy in question. Often, legal professionals use the term jurisdiction to mean the court’s area of authority in geographic terms. For instance, the Sixth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals is a federal appeals court that has jurisdiction over federal cases that arise in Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan. The Sixth Circuit would not have jurisdiction over a federal case that arose in Illinois. That would be a decision within the control of the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.


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