Washington US Federal District Courts Case Law

The federal district courts are the trial courts in the federal court system. Washington has two federal district courts, which are the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Washington. Judges on these courts must be nominated by the U.S. President and confirmed by the U.S. Senate. They serve lifetime terms. The Eastern District contains four judges, and the Western District contains seven judges. Decisions by both district courts may be appealed to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.

There are two main situations in which a federal court holds jurisdiction over a case. These are known as diversity jurisdiction and federal question jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction arises when a civil case involves citizens of different states, and there is more than $75,000 at issue. If there are multiple plaintiffs or multiple defendants, no plaintiff can be a citizen of the same state as any defendant. Federal question jurisdiction arises when a case involves the U.S. Constitution or federal laws, such as the statutes in the U.S. Code. Sometimes both state and federal courts may have jurisdiction. When this happens, a plaintiff can choose the court system that they prefer. However, a defendant may ask to remove a case from state court to federal court if it could have been filed in federal court.

Federal courts also hold jurisdiction over cases in certain distinctive areas that are controlled by federal law. These include bankruptcy, patents, copyrights, and admiralty or maritime law. Each district court contains a special bankruptcy court that oversees bankruptcy proceedings. Finally, federal courts hold jurisdiction over cases in which the federal government is a party.

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