United States Court System Organization

Understanding the way the court systems in the United states are organized is an important step in your search for court records. Knowing where to look, and what to expect to find at each level court, will be extremely helpful in expediting your court records search. In this section you will find an overview of the United States Court System. You will find detailed information on every level of court systems, how courts differ from state to state, what kind of cases can be heard on what levels and the natural progression of the US Court System.

The United States Court System is a complex hierarchy of court divisions designed to ensure appropriate consideration and attention to cases at all levels, from county to federal. Court divisions in the United States range from the highly specific U.S. Court of International Trade or United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, to the more well known United States Bankruptcy Courts and of course, the all-important Federal Supreme Court, responsible for the policy making that governs us all. You can already begin to see that there are many individual courts and various court systems. For example the United States Tax Court only has one major responsibility, to hear cases that have to do with federal income taxes, whereas state courts hear many different types of cases that pertain to a myriad of different state laws.

Each United States court division serves a very important and specific role in the United States judicial system, however, as it pertains to searching for court records, it is not necessary to understand the inner-workings of the organization of the US court system at each level. Just having an idea of the jurisdictions of the various levels of courts will be of tremendous assistance in your public records search. Here we've provided a very basic overview of the US court system organization for your convenience. For more detailed information about these levels of courts you can click through the links and find more data than you will ever need on how these courts work and what information you will be able to find in a court records search of that type of court.

District Courts

The District Courts are the trial courts of the United States. They have jurisdiction to hear almost all categories of federal cases, ranging from civil to criminal.

State Courts

State Court has jurisdiction over disputes with some connection to a U.S. state.

Bankruptcy Courts

Bankruptcy cases cannot be filed in state court. Therefore, each of the 94 federal judicial districts handles bankruptcy matters

Court of Appeals

A Court of Appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit.

County Court

County Courts have jurisdiction over one or more counties (or subnational entities) within a country.

For more information on the specific branches of the US court system mentioned above, please click the appropriate list item. You will be directed to a more detailed description of each rung of the US Courts system organization. From there you will be more prepared and one step closer to finding what you are looking for with a court records search.