How the Federal Court works

By: Patrick Amaro

District Courts

District Courts are the federal courts where trials are held and lawsuits begun


For all federal cases, District Courts have Original Jurisdiction, meaning the authority hears the case for the first time

Magistrate Judges

Magistrate Judges are judges that decide whether the accused should be held in jail or release on bail


Each District Court has magistrate judges who do much of the judge's routine work

Courts of Appeals

Appeal Courts review decisions made in lower district courts


This is known as Appellate Jurisdiction- authority hears the case appealed by a lower court


Appeal Courts rule only whether the original trial was fair and protected the person's rights



One appellate judge writes an opinion that explains the legal thinking behind the court's decision in the case


The three types of opinions in the Supreme Court are uphold, overturn, and remand. Uphold means to maintain the decision the way it was already was. Overturn means that the decision will. Remand an opinion means that the Supreme Court sends the opinion back to the lower court to be tried again.


The opinion sets a precedent- model for other judges to follow in making their own decisions on similar cases


Each of the 12 US Courts or Appeals covers a particular geographic area called a circuit

US Attorneys and Marshalls

US Attorneys are government lawyers who prosecutes people accused of breaking Federal Laws


US Marshalls make arrests, collects fines and take convicted people to prison.

Terms and Requirements for a Judge

All judges must be appointed by the President and approved by the Senate


They serve life terms meaning that they serve as long as they want unless they get impeached.