Dictrict Court Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Dictrict Court, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Dictrict Court?

A legal jurisdiction’s main trial court.

History and Meaning of District Court

The District Court is a term used to describe the main trial court in a legal jurisdiction. It is called so because it covers a specific geographic district and hears cases that arise within it. District Courts were established in the United States in 1789 by the Federal Judiciary Act with the purpose of resolving disputes regarding federal laws.

District Courts have jurisdiction over a wide range of cases, which makes them the busiest courts in the federal system. They hear both civil and criminal cases, and among the cases they handle are bankruptcy, immigration, patent, and intellectual property cases.

Examples of District Court

  • A person accused of a federal crime in New York City would be tried in the Southern District of New York's district court.
  • A small business owner in Nebraska who is being sued for breach of contract would go to the district court in the district where the business is located.
  • A Canadian inventor who wants to sue a U.S. company for patent infringement would file their lawsuit in the appropriate district court.
  • The District Court of Maryland has jurisdiction over all civil and criminal cases that arise in Maryland.

Legal Terms Similar to District Court

  • State Court: A court with jurisdiction over cases that arise within a specific state.
  • Appeals Court: A court that reviews decisions made in a lower court, including the decisions made in the District Court.
  • Circuit Court: A court with jurisdiction over cases that arise within a specific circuit, which is a group of districts.