The Federal Court System

(How It Works)


There are a couple different types of courts in The Federal Court System

  • District Courts- where it all begins

If your case moves further up in the system, it goes to the appeals court

  • Appeals court- decisions made by district court are reviewed here(does not

hold trials)

There is also a circuit court

  • Circuit Court-movable courts where judge holds court sessions in different locations

Court Decisions Can Go In Reverse

When your case is sent back to the lower court (district court), it is called a remand

The court would remand a case when it needs to be tried again

The Actions of Appeals Courts

When an appeals court makes a decision, it is almost always final

To make the decision, one appellate judge makes an opinion

  • Opinion- explains the legal thinking of the decision

A precedent is then set from the opinion made

  • Precedent- an example for the other judges to follow when making their own Precedent- an example for the other judges to follow when making their decisions

Amount of Federal Judges

  • District Court-at least 2
  • Appeals Court- 6 to 27
  • Supreme Court- 9

More On Judges

Judges serve life terms

  • Life Terms- once they become a judge, they are one for the rest of their life
  • Magistrate judge- decides whether accused should be held in jail are released

US Attorneys and Marshalls

US Attorney- present evidence in court and represents US in civil cases involving government

US Marshall- make arrest, collect fines, and take convicted people to prison


Original- court provides first hearing of specific cases

Appellate- power to review decisions and change lower court outcomes