State vs Federal Courts
The difference between state and federal courts is based on several factors such as the structure, cases heard, etc. Judiciary is a vital cog and pillar of any form of polity, and its importance can never be underestimated. In most countries where there is a federal structure comprising many states, or it is a union of states, the legal system is also bifurcated into federal and state level courts. This is in consonance with a parliament at the federal level and legislatures at state level. There are many similarities in law courts operating at federal and state levels as they all work according to provisions outlined in the constitution of the country. However, there are many differences pertaining to judiciary, their roles and responsibilities, and the nature of cases that are heard and disposed off in these courts.
What are State Courts?
First and foremost, the cases heard in courts at the state level are those involving residents of that particular state. This is because jurisdiction of courts in states is up to their physical boundaries. State courts are further divided into courts in cities, municipalities, and counties. When it comes to nature of cases, one finds that courts at the state level hear a higher variety, and also a higher number of cases that include criminal and civil cases. In general, criminal cases, injury cases, family law cases, and contract cases are heard in the state courts.
The judges in state courts are mostly elected, and in some cases are appointed. These appointments can be for a lifetime or for a specific period of years. Sometimes a combination of these proceedings is followed by the people to choose judges at the state level.
What are Federal Courts?
Federal courts are usually reserved for cases that involve interpretation of constitutional provisions that cannot be resolved at the state level. Also, cases that are challenged in federal courts such as, Supreme Court are heard in Federal courts. A person comes to the Supreme Court if the person who is convicted in a state court is not satisfied and desires to appeal to the Supreme Court. Federal courts are usually spared from cases that can be tackled at the state level. However, every citizen has the liberty to appeal in federal courts, to readdress his grievances. Cases that are against the government are usually heard only in federal courts, and they do not come within the jurisdiction of lower courts or state level courts. Then, cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law, cases involving laws and treaties of the government, cases involving congressmen and ministers, disputes between states and between state and federation, etc. are examples of cases heard at the federal level.
Judges in federal courts are normally nominated by the President, and their nomination has to be ratified by the Senate. Once the Senate too show their likeness to the President’s choice, that judge is appointed. Also, a Federal court judge is a lifetime appointment.
What is the difference between State and Federal Courts?
• Just as there is a system of governance in the form of state legislatures and federal government, there is also a bifurcation in terms of judiciary. Judiciary is divided into courts at state level and courts at the federal level.
• State and Federal Courts differ in their jurisdiction, the nature and number of cases heard at the state and federal level, appointment of judges, etc. In general, criminal cases, injury cases, family law cases, and contract cases are heard in state courts. On the other hand, cases that deal with the constitutionality of a law, cases involving laws and treaties of the government, cases involving congressmen and ministers, disputes between states and between state and federation, etc. are examples of cases heard at the federal level.
• The judges at the state level are mostly elected, and sometimes appointed. On the other hand, justices in federal courts are mostly nominated by the President, and their nomination has to be ratified by the senators.
• A Federal judge is appointed for a lifetime while a State judge can be appointed for a lifetime or a specific period.
• When it comes to removing a judge, for a Federal judge you have to pass an impeachment in the Parliament. For a state judge, depending on the state, different procedures are taken. These procedures can include impeachment at the state level, decision of the Supreme Court, etc.
- Eastern District of New York via Wikicommons (Public Domain)
- Federal Supreme Court of Switzerland in Lausanne by Norbert Aepli, Switzerland (CC BY 3.0)