Civil Litigation Legal Topics Pretrial Matters

Why Choose Federal Court?

177130937When you have a case that may be filed in either California state court or in federal court, you need to give some thought to selecting a forum. Why would you want to go to federal court?

There are several reasons to choose federal court over state court, including:

  • Geography. Weigh the distances that the parties, witnesses, and attorneys must travel to attend trial or pretrial motions and conferences.
  • Venue and transfer. If you file the action in federal court, the case may be transferred to a federal court in any other district in the United States on grounds of convenience (28 USC §1404(a)) or when venue is improper in the district in which the action is brought (28 USC §1406(a)).
  • Applicable substantive law. If there’s a state appellate court decision adverse to your client’s position, but substantive law applies to the case, you may want to file in a state court. Although a federal court would be bound to follow the court decision, another state appellate court would not.
  • Applicable procedural law. Does federal or state procedural law offer the greatest advantage to your client? Federal court affords flexible use of motions for partial summary judgment (see Fed R Civ P 56), whereas in California state courts, motions for summary adjudication can no longer resolve facts or issues that don’t completely dispose of a cause of action, an affirmative defense, a claim for damages, or an issue of duty. See CCP §437c(f).
  • Discovery. It’s easier to take foreign and out-of-state depositions in federal court actions. In addition, some attorneys believe that federal court affords greater flexibility in resolving discovery disputes.
  • Disqualification of judge. Generally, it’s easier to disqualify a judge in state court than in federal court.
  • Registering or entering judgment outside California. The ability to have judgment easily entered in another state may be an important consideration when the assets of the defendant from whom recovery is expected are located outside the state. If a state court judgment has been entered, the procedure for obtaining its entry in another state may be more cumbersome than the registration procedure provided for federal district court judgments.

But one of the most important issues to consider is the differences between the jury systems of federal and state courts. In this short video clip from CEB’s program Toolbox and Primer for Federal Court Practice, attorney Elizabeth Kristen explains what those differences are and why they may matter to your case.

Find discussion of each of these differences and everything you need to understand about California and federal jurisdiction in CEB’s California Civil Procedure Before Trial, chapters 6 and 7. New to federal practice? Get 6 hours of all the nuts and bolts in CEB’s program Toolbox and Primer for Federal Court Practice, available On Demand.

Other CEB blog posts you may find useful:

© The Regents of the University of California, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited.

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