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Prose Guide

Prose Guide

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Published by winona mae marzocco

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Published by: winona mae marzocco on Dec 26, 2011
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01/29/2012

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FILING YOUR LAWSUITIN FEDERAL COURT
This document is provided by the Clerk’s Office to assist parties in properlyfiling a lawsuit in this Court. Litigants are encouraged to review it thoroughly.This document is NOT to be considered legal advice, nor should it be citedas legal authority. It is subject to exception and modification. Thisdocument should be used in conjunction with the federal rules and LocalRules of this Court.
Revised July 2008
 
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The DifferentKinds of Courts
Y
ou may be aware thatthere are both federalcourts and state courts.In Michigan, state courts aredivided by county, and enforcestate and municipal laws. EachMichigan county has a CountyCircuit Court, which decidesissues brought under the lawsof this State. That includesfamily disputes, probate,broken contracts, and mattersbrought under the StateConstitution. Also, every cityhas a District Court, whichdecides municipal matters(traffic tickets, landlord-tenant,zoning, etc.)Although Michigan state courtsmust enforce the federalConstitution and laws, most ofthe cases they decide involvethe Constitution and laws of thestate.Federal courts are establishedby the U.S. government todecide disputes concerning thefederal Constitution and lawspassed by Congress. Ourstate has two federal courts,the Eastern District of Michiganand the Western District ofMichigan. The Eastern Districtcovers the eastern half of thelower peninsula. The WesternDistrict covers the rest of thestate.
What kinds of cases are filedin U.S. District Court?
There are three types of cases filed in U.S. District Courts
:
1. Cases where the United States government is a party.
Lawsuits for social security or veterans benefits are among those thatwould be filed in a federal court. Also, cases against any federal agency,like the Postal Service or Internal Revenue Service.
2. Cases brought under federal statutes 
.
The U.S. District Court is limited to hearing the specific types of casesdescribed in the Constitution or specifically provided for by Congress.Federal laws can cover issues not addressed by state laws, such asinterstate commerce, damages at sea, labor laws, environmental matters,agriculture, certain tax matters and many other laws. Also, federal lawscan duplicate state laws, such as in civil rights protections.
3. Cases where the parties reside in different states 
.These types of matters are called “diversity cases.” In a diversity case,if you live in Michigan and you are suing someone in another state, the judge will decide which U.S. District Court is most appropriate to hearyour case. This is called the “venue.” In deciding the proper venue, the judge will consider where the case was filed, where the majority of theparties are located, where the witnesses reside, where the actualdamage was done and other issues. A rule of thumb is that the case willbe heard at the Court closest to the defendant. But the judge has a lotof latitude.Diversity cases must claim a minimum of $75,000 in damages. If yourcase doesn’t claim that much, you’ll need to file it in state court.
 
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Before you file,please consider:
R
ule 11 of the FederalRules of CivilProcedure prohibitsthe filing of lawsuits that areclearly frivolous or filed justto harass someone.If the court determines thatyou have filed a lawsuit foran improper or unnecessaryreason, it may imposesanctions against you,including ordering that youpay any legal fees of theparty that you sued.
Should I file in StateCourt or Federal Court?
If you are suing someone based on a violation of afederal statute, for example the Americans withDisabilities Act, you would file your case in U.S. DistrictCourt.However, state laws and federal laws sometimesoverlap each other. For example, Michigan’s Elliott-Larsen Civil Rights Act offers protections to citizenssimilar to federal civil rights statutes. In other words,you can file a civil rights case in either federal court orMichigan state court. To choose which court would bebest, you need to look at other things:
C
Where will the jury come from?
C
How long will it take for your case to get to trial? 
C
What are the fees involved in each court?In State court, your jury will be picked from citizensresiding in the county where the case was filed. Infederal court, the jury will be selected from a pool ofpeople who reside throughout the eastern half of thelower peninsula. Also, the typical U.S. District Courtcase takes about a year to litigate. Michigan’s statecourts have different timelines. It may be worth yourtime to do some research.

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