How Courts Work – Understanding the Types of Cases

Lesson Duration

From The Judicial Learning Center

“The activities in this lesson can be assigned to students individually or in groups. In part 1, students will be asked to read and compare two current news stories and summarize the main differences between civil and criminal law suits. This should be completed before any detailed instruction on the differences between civil and criminal cases. In part 2, students will use the Student Center webpages and/or a fact sheet to differentiate between federal and state court cases.”


  • Compare characteristics of civil and criminal lawsuits
  • Find key differences in a news story, and determine the type of case from those clues
  • Compare and contrast federal and state jurisdiction
  • Determine the jurisdiction of fictional scenarios

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The Judicial Learning Center, Inc. is an independent Missouri not-for-profit corporation founded by leaders of the legal community.