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Welcome to Vegas Lawyer. This site is for people who were hurt in Nevada. Contact us for a free consultation. You may want to read the Las Vegas Personal Injury Law introduction on our home page. Also, you can get an overview of other claims like Wrongful Death, Auto Accidents, Slip & Fall, and Products Liability before you explore the Article below.

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Federal Court FAQs

How do I file a civil case? Is there a charge?

A civil action is begun by the filing of a complaint. Parties beginning a civil action in a district court are required to pay a filing fee set by statute. A plaintiff who is unable to pay the fee may file a request to proceed in forma pauperis. If the request is granted, the fees are waived.

How do I file a criminal case?

Individuals may not file criminal charges in federal courts. A criminal proceeding is initiated by the government, usually through the U.S. attorney's office in coordination with a law enforcement agency. Allegations of criminal behavior should be brought to the local police, the FBI, or other appropriate law enforcement agency.

How do I file for bankruptcy protection? Is there a charge?

A bankruptcy case is begun by the filing of a petition. The required forms are available from the bankruptcy court clerk's office or at many stationery stores. There is a range of filing fees for bankruptcy cases, depending on the chapter of the bankruptcy code under which the case is filed. Chapter 7, the most common type filed by individuals, involves an almost complete liquidation of the assets of the debtor, as well as a discharge of most debts.

How can I find a lawyer?

Local bar associations usually offer lawyer referral services, often without charge. The clerk's office in each district court usually is able to help find a referral service. But personnel in the clerk's office and other federal court employees are prohibited from providing legal advice to individual litigants.

Defendants in criminal proceedings have a right to a lawyer, and they are entitled to have counsel appointed at government expense if they are financially unable to obtain adequate representation by private counsel. The Criminal Justice Act requires a court determination that a person is financially eligible for court-appointed counsel. Defendants may be required to pay some of these costs.

There is no general right to free legal assistance in civil proceedings. Some litigants obtain free or low-cost representation through local bar association referrals, or through legal services organizations. Litigants in civil cases may also proceed pro se; that is, they may represent themselves without the assistance of a lawyer.

How are judges assigned to a particular court?

Each federal judge is commissioned to a specific court. Judges have no authority to hear cases in other courts unless they are formally designated to do so. Because of heavy caseloads in certain districts, judges from other courts are often asked to hear cases in these districts.

How are judges assigned to specific cases?

Judge assignment methods vary, but the basic considerations in making assignments are to assure an equitable distribution of caseload among judges and to avoid "judge shopping." The majority of courts use some variation of a random drawing under which each judge in a court receives roughly an equal caseload.

What is a U.S. Magistrate Judge?

Magistrate judges are appointed by the district court to serve for eight-year terms. Their duties fall into four general categories: conducting most of the initial proceedings in criminal cases (including search and arrest warrants, detention hearings, probable cause hearings, and appointment of attorneys); trial of certain criminal misdemeanor cases; trial of civil cases with the consent of the parties; and conducting a wide variety of other proceedings referred to them by district judges (including deciding motions, reviewing petitions filed by prisoners, and conducting pretrial and settlement conferences).

How can I check on the status of a case?

The clerk's office responds without charge to most inquiries on the status of a case. There is a fee to conduct certain searches and retrieve some information, and to make copies of court documents. Most federal courts have automated systems that allow for the search and retrieval of case-related information at the public counters in the courthouse, and electronically from other locations. In many bankruptcy and appellate courts, telephone information systems enable callers to obtain case information by touch-tone phone. Court dockets and opinions may also be available on the Internet. The federal judiciary's Internet homepage, www.uscourts.gov, includes links to individual court websites, as well as a directory of court electronic public access services.

How quickly does a court reach a decision in a particular case?

All cases are handled as expeditiously as possible. The Speedy Trial Act of 1974 establishes special time requirements for the prosecution and disposition of criminal cases in district courts. As a result, courts must give the scheduling of criminal cases a higher priority than civil cases. The Act normally allows only 70 days from a defendant's arrest to the beginning of the trial.

There is no similar law governing civil trial scheduling, but on average the courts are able to resolve most civil cases in less than a year. Depending on its complexity, a particular case may require more or less time to address. There are numerous reasons why the progress of a particular case may be delayed, many of which are outside the court's control. Cases may be delayed because settlement negotiations are in progress, or because there are shortages in judges or available courtrooms.

How are staff hired in the federal courts?

The federal court system's personnel decisions are decentralized. This means that each court conducts its own advertising and hiring for job positions. Judges select and hire their own chambers staff. The clerk of court and certain other central court staff are hired by the court as a whole. Other court staff are hired by the clerk of court, who acts under the supervision of the court. Some employment opportunities are listed on the judiciary's Internet homepage, www.uscourts.gov, but often the clerk's office or Internet website of a particular court is the best source for a complete listing. The federal judiciary is committed to the national policy of ensuring equal employment opportunity to all persons.

This information came from a
US Courts online article.

*** Any law, statute, regulation or other precedent is subject to change at any time ***

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