Jurisdiction or venue for a specific claim will fall under the Pennsylvania Court System which we summarize below.

Pennsylvania’s judicial system is organized into four different levels of courts or jurisdictions:

  • Magisterial District Courts
  • Court of Common Pleas
  • The Superior Court and Commonwealth Court
  • The Pennsylvania Supreme Court

Magisterial District Courts

The designated Magisterial District Court is an appropriate venue as to a citizen or municipal complaint. Each county is divided into districts and each district has a Magisterial District Judge or MDJ. This venue is advantageous in being relatively informal, not too costly (some represent themselves to cut costs) and fairly quick (2-3 months perhaps vs. possibly 2-3 years in the Court of Common Pleas) Also, there is no jury and a citizen or municipality does not need an attorney in Magisterial District Court.

A suit in Magisterial District Court is filed in:

  • The district where the defendant resides;
  • The district where the complaint applies.


Court of Common Pleas

The Common Pleas Courts – e.g. Allegheny County Common Pleas Court – are trial courts of general jurisdiction. They entertain civil and criminal cases and have jurisdiction over cases not assigned to another court. They take appeals on judgments from the magisterial district courts in Allegheny County and also hear appeals from state and local government agencies and municipalities.

In Common Pleas Court there are jury and non-jury trials and an attorney is advisable. This venue is a more formal, costly, stressful and lengthy process.

In Common Pleas Court in Allegheny County there is a Civil Arbitration option (if/as applicable – click the Non-Compliance Court process under the Compliance tab) that provides a timelier process (months) to settlement than the “General Docket” process that may entail years just to get to trial.


The Superior Court and Commonwealth Court

These courts hear appeals from the Court of Common Pleas. The Superior Court handles general appeals and the Commonwealth Court hears appeals involving state agencies or other government issues


The Pennsylvania Supreme Court

This is the highest appellate court in Pennsylvania. It hears appeals from the Superior and Commonwealth Courts. It is a court of limited jurisdiction i.e., it chooses the cases to hear in accordance with the gravity of the presented issues. Chances are remote as to the Supreme Court hearing any specific appeal.


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