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Civil Litigation Searching – What Court Should I Search?

Corporate, Litigation Research

In a recent blog post titled, “Ordering a Civil Litigation Search: 5 Pieces of Information Your Searcher Will Need From You,” we mentioned that when ordering a litigation search, your searcher will be expecting you to provide direction as to which specific court they should visit.  Several readers responded, saying that they could use some help figuring out what court to search. First Corporate Solutions cannot offer any legal advice in terms of telling customers where to perform their searches, but we can provide some basic information about common customer searching practices and what types of cases are found at certain courts.

When performing civil litigation searches as part of a pre-funding due diligence investigation, we find that most customers elect to search the State Court of General Jurisdiction. For a more comprehensive search effort, many will also add a search of the U.S. District Court.

State Court of General Jurisdiction
These courts are the primary trial courts of the state court system. Each state manages its state court system differently and this level of court goes by many different names such as: Superior Court, Court of Common Pleas, Circuit Court etc.

A State Court of General Jurisdiction hears a variety of case types including: most criminal cases, personal injury matters and contract cases (uscourts.gov).

U.S. District Court
These are the trial courts of the federal court system. There are ninety-four U.S. District courts throughout the nation and various U.S. territories. Every state has at least one U.S. District Court, some having as many as four.

Many different types of cases can be found at a U.S District Court including: civil actions that cross state lines and criminal cases filed by the United States (uscourts.gov)

Litigation searching can be complex. It is best practice to speak with your firm’s risk management department or your attorney before ordering a litigation search to determine what searches will yield the greatest benefit for your transaction.

To learn more about the U.S. Court system, visit their website www.uscourts.gov.



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