U.S. Federal Court System

How it Works

Three Levels of Federal Courts

Top: Supreme Court: Limited Original Jurisdiction

Nine Justices (life term)

Middle: Court of Appeals: Appellate Jurisdiction

Twelve Regional Circuit Courts

Bottom: District Courts: Original Jurisdiction

Ninety-four Judicial Districts in Fifty States

Roles in Federal Courts

US Marshals:
  • Make arrests
  • Collect fines
  • Take convicted to prison
  • Protect jurors
  • Keep order in court
  • Serve papers

Magistrate Judges:

  • Handle warrants and other routine work

US Attorney:

  • Deals with paper work
  • Helps make sure the court runs efficiently

Several of the Current Judges: The President appoints all federal judges with the Senates approval.


Frequently asked Questions

What is a Precedent?

A precedent is a legal case establishing a principle or rule that a judicial body may use with later similar cases.

What is a Remand?

A remand is an action taken by an appellate court (appeal court) in which it sends a case back to a trial court (lower court) for further action.

What is an opinion?

An opinion is a judge or courts statement announcing a case decision.


  • Summary of the facts
  • Record of the applicable law and how it relates to the facts
  • Facts supporting the decision
  • Judgment

Parts of a Courtroom

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Link to Courtroom Parts: