How the Federal Court System Works

Maria Goebeler

Three Types of Courts

There are three different court systems. The bottom level is the U.S. District Court, the next is the U.S. Court of Appeals and the top level is the Supreme Court

U.S. District Court

The U.S. District Court is the lowest level of the Federal Court Systems, this is where trials are held and lawsuits begin. All states have at least one. District Courts have original jurisdiction, they hear both civil and criminal cases. Each District Courts have at least 2 judges.

U.S. Court of Appeals

This is the second level of the court system. If a person loses in a district court then they appeal to this court. Appeals Courts review the decisions made in district courts. An appellate jurisdiction is the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court. There are 12 Appeal Courts, they each have a circuit that they cover. Appeals Courts writes an opinion that sets a precedent for other judges to follow in making decisions on their own cases. There are 6-27 judges in each Appeals Courts.

Supreme Court

The Supreme Court is the head of the Judicial Branch. All of the other courts must follow the decisions of the Supreme Court and that is the final decision. Judgements reached by the lower courts may be appealed or questioned by the Supreme Court. The judges can remand the case, which means to send it back to the lower courts to be tried again. They have life terms which means they can serve as long as they would like. The Supreme Court has 9 justices.

Magistrate Judges

Magistrate judges decide whether the accused should be held in jail or released on a bail. Every District Court has magistrate judges that do a lot of the judges work. They determine whether the case should go to court or not after looking at evidence.

U.S. Marshals

U.S. marshals collect taxes, make arrests and take convicted people to prison. They also protect jurors and keep order in court. The qualifications for being a marshal are: you must be between ages 21 and 36, you must be a U.S. citizen, you must have a bachelors degree, you must have a drivers license, be in good physical shape, complete a background check and go through a 17.5 week basic training program.

U.S. Attorneys

There are also U.S. attorneys for every district. They look into the evidence and present it at court, they also represent the U.S. in civil cases. that involve the government.