Differences Between California State and Federal Courts
Nov 6 2019 0

Differences Between California State and Federal Courts

If you are in the process of dealing with business litigation in California, the court system with which you file your case (and where it will ultimately be heard) will have an important effect on the results. The California State Court system varies greatly from the federal court system in California in several ways, especially when it comes to the elements listed below.


Differences Between California State and Federal Courts

If you want a specific court to hear a case, it has to have jurisdiction in the matter. Federal courts are granted jurisdiction over cases that involve an apparent breach of a constitutional matter or a federal law, like someone disputing a federal or state law on the grounds that it goes against the United States Constitution.

Federal courts also preside over cases that have diversity jurisdiction, meaning the defendants and the plaintiffs have their primary business headquarters in separate states.  


Federal judges are appointed. State judges are elected. Due to this variation in authority, federal judges are generally expected to have more extensive experience and more distinguished credentials than California state judges. This distinction is not meant to discount the background and credentials of our state judges, but instead, to call attention to the fact that federal court is the apex of the legal profession.


Federal courts are ordinarily inflexible in their administration of the Federal Rules of Evidence, while state courts in California are a little looser in their following of the California Evidence Code. The state of California has a well-earned reputation as being a relaxed state overall; this applies, to a degree, to its state courtrooms when contrasted to its federal courts.


The inflexibility of Federal Courts makes federal lawsuits more costly to prosecute than at the state level. No lawsuit is cheap, however, and different forms of conflict resolution like arbitration are usually advised before moving forward in court. It is generally a good idea to incorporate a mediation or arbitration clause in your company contracts. This will ensure that litigation is the last option in a case against your business or at least remove most of the roadblocks from any necessary courtroom action.

Jury Pool

In California State Court, your case will be attributed to the courthouse that is geographically closest to either the place of the conflict or to your place of business. The jury pool for your case will be selected from that same judicial district. 

A federal court, however, will select jurors from all across the county where the matter is being heard instead of a single particular area. There are more state courthouses than federal courthouses in California. Ordinarily, only one federal courthouse is assigned to each county, but that single courthouse might have a multitude of courtrooms. Anyone bringing a legal action before a court of law should be aware of where their prospective jury will be chosen based on which court the matter will be heard in. 

If you are unfamiliar with the state and federal court options and would like to learn about the risks and benefits of each one before you file you need an experienced business contract attorney. Please reach out to the trusted and qualified business law and contract law attorneys at Leiva Law Firm by calling our law offices at 818-519-4465. Our attorneys speak both English and Spanish.

You Might Also Like