When a dispute arises between two people or businesses, sometimes litigation is the only means of resolving the problem. The process of litigation begins when less formal methods of settling a dispute have failed. Litigation is, therefore, the final method of dispute resolution.
In Pennsylvania, litigation is handled by a network of county courts known as "Courts of Common Pleas." Each Court of Common Pleas has the power and authority to conduct jury trials and trials before Judges to solve civil disputes. Complex rules of procedure and the law of evidence control the litigation and trial practices of the courts.
Decisions of the Courts of Common Pleas are reviewable by Pennsylvania's appellate courts -- the Superior Court, the Commonwealth Court and the Supreme Court. Appeals to the Superior Court and Commonwealth Court are an absolute right. However, the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania has the ability to pick and choose the cases it will review.
The judicial branch of the Federal government also operates a court system that serves Pennsylvania. The United States District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania operates a civil trial court in Pittsburgh, Erie and Johnstown. The types of cases that are tried in Federal court are limited by Federal legislation. Appeals from Federal district court decisions are taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit which convenes in Philadelphia. The Supreme Court of the United States entertains appeals from the Third Circuit.
Litigation is a complicated and consuming area of practice for lawyers. At Silberblatt Mermelstein, we approach litigation seriously -- both the decision to litigate and the decision to settle litigation -- because the purpose of litigation is to enforce your rights, our client's rights.