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CalAttorney2, Attorney
Category: Criminal Law
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Experience:  Civil litigation attorney for individuals and businesses.
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Can you reference federal case law in state court to prove

Customer Question

Can you reference federal case law in state court to prove your case?
Or do I have to file in federal court? Even if the civil case is under $75,000.
Submitted: 1 year ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  CalAttorney2 replied 1 year ago.

Dear Customer,

Thank you for using our forum. My name is ***** ***** I hope to assist you today.

You can cite federal case law in a state court matter. However, the federal case is going to be "persuasive" as opposed to "authoritative" (so the state court can use the federal case as reasoning in finding its own decision, but it is not required to follow the federal law - it is not binding on the state court).

It is very common to cite persuasive law (federal decisions or cases from other states), when there is no case law directly on point from your own jurisdiction.

Another time when citing persuasive case law is particularly important is when the case deals with a federal question (such as interpreting a federal statute or law) and the issue is dealt with heavily in federal court - it is unlikely that a state court is going to create its own unique interpretation simply because there is no contrary law in the state currently.

So, citing federal case law is commonly done, and in the absence of case law in your own state, is very effective.