1. Determine which court has jurisdiction over the case:
This involves looking at the specifics of the dispute to determine which court is best suited to hear it. Generally, jurisdiction is based on factors such as geographical location, types of disputes and parties involved. In some cases, special federal courts may be granted jurisdiction depending on the nature of the dispute.
2. Evaluate if the parties have standing to bring the action:
The plaintiff must have a valid legal interest in the dispute and be able to demonstrate how they are directly affected by it. The defendant must also possess some stake in the outcome of the case, rather than merely being an innocent bystander.
3. Examine whether the case presents a “case or controversy”:
A court cannot hear a matter unless it involves a real and actual dispute between two parties that can be resolved through judicial action. This means that hypothetical questions, requests for advisory opinions and disputes about abstract legal principles will not be considered by the court.
4. Consider if the dispute falls within one of the categories established by Congress:
The U.S. Constitution grants Congress the power to establish federal courts as necessary, and has enumerated certain areas of law over which they have exclusive jurisdiction. These include cases involving bankruptcy, copyright infringement and patent law, among others.
5. Review the applicable statutes of limitations:
Statutes of limitation are laws that limit how long an individual or business can wait before filing a legal action related to a dispute. If the time limit has expired, the court may not be able to hear the case, even if it is otherwise within their jurisdiction.
6. Evaluate if the court is an appropriate venue for the case:
If the court does not have proper jurisdiction, the defendant may be able to move for a change of venue. This allows them to argue that the dispute should be heard in another location or by another court, either because it is more convenient or because the applicable laws favor their position.
7. Check whether any jurisdictional prerequisites must be satisfied:
In some cases, certain facts must be present before the court can hear a dispute. For example, federal courts generally will not hear disputes involving less than $75,000 unless Congress has specifically granted them jurisdiction over such matters.
8. Determine whether any exceptions apply:
Even if a case appears to fall outside of a particular court’s jurisdiction, certain exceptions may exist. This includes doctrines such as “pendent jurisdiction”, which allows a court to hear matters that are closely related to the primary dispute even if they do not fall within their normal area of expertise.