Legal Systems in the USA
Basically, in the USA, there are two types of legal systems. The first type is the state legal system, which is individualized in each state. The second type is the federal legal system. Our case is in the federal legal system.
Brief Overview of a Federal Lawsuit
In the federal legal system, there are three levels. The lowest level is the District Court level, where a case is first brought. There, a single judge will be in charge and either (s)he or a jury will decide the outcome of the case. When the case is over in the District Court, the loser has the absolute right to go to the next level – the Court of Appeals – to have the lower court ruling reviewed. In our case, we were the losers in the lower court, so we have appealed to the Court of Appeals.
In any court, the documents that are filed are listed in what is known as “the docket.” Usually, the documents are numbered consecutively as they are filed. Because some of the filed documents are not particularly important, and others are superseded by newer documents, we are listing only the documents that have a bearing on the case. Thus, the following dockets from our case (one for the District Court and one for the Court of Appeals) are incomplete. Anyone interested in seeing the other documents can do so by checking out the “PACER” website at www.pacer.gov.