The Federal Court System: A review
By: Aziza Henry
Types of Federal Courts:
Magistrate Judges - Each district court has one of them and they do much of the judges routine work. They are essentially the pre-trial judges, as they decide whether a case should go to trial based on preliminary evidence. Also, the judges decide whether the accused party goes to jail or is released on bail.
U.S. Court of Appeals - Thirteen in all, each covers a particular geographic area, or circuit. No trials are held in these courts. When a person loses a case and believes that there had been a mistake or their rights were infringed upon, they may appeal the case to this court. A panel of judges reviews the case over and may due one of the following:
- Uphold the original decision - Find nothing wrong and the original decision of the lower court is taken.
- Reverse the decision - The opposite ruling is taken if a mistake is found and agreed upon.
- Remand the case - If the judges do not know what action should be taken or if they believe the case needs to be redone then they send it back to the lower court to be re-tried.
U.S. Supreme Court - The highest court with nine justices in all. Only Supreme Court Justices serve life terms. Few cases are sent up from the Court of Appeals to this one and they are only allowed to hear a certain amount per year.
Types of Jurisdiction
For all federal cases, U.S. district courts get the authority to hear the case for the first time.
The U.S. Court of Appeals gets the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court.
Sometimes the state and federal courts will have joint jurisdiction over a case meaning that they share the authority and either one may hear a case.
U.S. Attorneys & Marshals
U.S. Attorneys - A government lawyer who prosecutes people accused of breaking federal laws. They look into charges and present the evidence to the court. Also represent the U.S. in civil cases involving the federal government. They are apart of the U.S. Department of Justice.
U.S. Marshals - Make arrest, collect fines, take convicted people to prisons, protect jurors, keep order in the court, and serve subpoenas ordering people to appear in court.
Between the ages of 21-36, they are bachelor degree holders who must undergo rigorous training and extensive background checks before becoming a marshal.