What Happens at a City Courthouse?


Quick Answer

A courthouse's primary function is as the place where lawsuits are filed for the first time and where the majority of disputes are either settled or resolved. Courthouses serve a variety of functions, such as the creation of original case files for legal disputes and meetings between attorneys and clients.

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Full Answer

Courthouses serve as the first level of courtroom access, so people who have a dispute with someone else or with a business must begin by filing it with the county clerk. Most courthouses have multiple judges that hear cases. When a judge is assigned a case, he contacts the parties and their attorneys to set up pre-trial meetings and schedule a court date; these meetings usually take place within the courthouse. Different courthouses have different rules regarding which legal matters may be tried within the courthouse; large courthouses are often able to handle both criminal and civil litigation, while smaller courthouses in more rural areas are often limited to civil matters.

The only claims that are not automatically accepted by courthouses at the county level are claims that invoke federal or national law, since county courthouses are only able to hear state or local law disputes. Claims that implicate federal rights or name the United States government as a party must be heard in a federal court.

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