Your research will require you to investigate the official websites for all state court systems. Most states also have a state law library website, with librarian help. Most are linked in the court system or bar association site. Find the trial courts of your state. Keep track of your research efforts for question 4 below. The LexisNexis site in the online library does not have a compiled list of the levels of court for each state. Our Rasmussen librarians can help you by recommending ways to navigate state court websites.
- Identify the correct court where the criminal case will be held. Assume that the criminal case will be in a court that handles felonies. If no court is specified for criminal cases, use the court of general jurisdiction. It should be the state court in your state.
- Identify the correct court for the civil lawsuit. Again, use the state court in your state. Assume the lawsuit will be for $25,000 or more. As for criminal, if no court is specified for civil lawsuits, use the court of general jurisdiction.
- Does your state have one or two levels of appeal? What is the name of each court? Which court is the top one? Hints: Possible examples are Court of Appeals or Supreme Court. Unlike the U.S. federal courts, your state may not label the top court as Supreme, so be careful.
- What efforts did you make in your research? State which websites you used and whether it took a number of repeated attempts to find what you were looking for. Did you use phone calls or emails to the state court system, or a librarian, before you were sure you understood the structure of your state’s courts? What road blocks and successes did you meet? Using help and learning how to report which methods worked and failed are paralegal skills and add to your score.