Federal Court System

How it Works - Get to know it - by Geena Cavoly

Roles and Responsibilities of People working in and around the Federal Court System

The US Marshall is the person responsible for Judicial and Court House security, Fugitive Apprehension (finding and bringing the bad guys to justice), transportation of the fugitives (once there caught they drive to prison), witness protection, and asset forfeiture (taking the money and goodies away from the criminals that they stole or bought with criminal activities) and operations support (audits, emergency service and even protecting missiles).

US Attorney is the person responsible for serving as the litigator (person prosecuting the case). They are responsible for conducting multi-agency investigations which involve federal, state and local law enforcement agencies (like the one that caught the mayor in Charlotte). These jobs are appointed by the President and report to the U.S. Attorney General.

Magistrate Judge is the person who hears the case, applies the law, gives the reason for the sentence and gives the explanation of the sentence that the guilty person will serve. These jobs are appointed to assist the District Court judges. They are voted in by a majority vote of Federal District court judges in their district - they serve a term of 8 years.

Vocabulary you should know....(before becoming a criminal)

Life Terms - refers to the term of the Supreme Court Justices -The Constitution states that Justices shall remain as a judge as long as they practice good, ethical behavior. This means that the Justices hold office as long as they choose and can only be removed from office by impeachment.


Precedent - a precedent is a legal case that establishes a principle or rule that a judge may use when deciding new cases with similar facts


Opinion - an opinion is a conclusion that is drawn from facts of the case. It is a written explanation that the judge provides to explain the reason for his / her ruling.


Remand - a remand order is the order issued by a judge to send a prisoner back to prison. It can also take place when a higher court sends a case back to a lower court to have the lower court take an action that the higher court requests. (http://legal-dictionary.thefreedictionary.com/remand)

Other Terms Used in and Around Court System to explain who has Jurisdiction over your case..

Circuit - a circuit court is a system of courts that work together within a region. These courts usually try and hear cases within their region or area.


Appellate Jurisdiction - the appellate jurisdiction allows the power of the court to review decisions and change the outcomes of decisions of lower court systems. The appellate jurisdiction is created and governed by the legislative decisions. This allows for cases to be reviewed or heard by a higher court.


Original Jurisdiction- The original jurisdiction provides the court to hear a case for the first time before any appeal. In some cases the Supreme Court can have original jurisdiction concurrently with the lower courts. In the U.S. there are several specialized courts that have original jurisdiction over specific matter (http://www.law.cornell.edu/wex/original_jurisdiction).

The Courts - What is the Role? Where does my case go? Why?

District Courts - The role of the District Court is to allow the district court judges to try cases. They are also called the trial court, which means they hear all types of cases. The District Court is the trial court for the Federal Court System (judicial branch). In the U.S. their our 94 judicial districts - every state having at least one district court. This court can hear both civil and criminal cases. (http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/UnderstandingtheFederalCourts/DistrictCourts.aspx)


Court of Appeals- The court of appeals is the first level of appeal that a person can request after their initial case has been decided in the U.S. Federal Court system. The court will hear and decide on cases of appeals from within there own circuit. But this court can get cases from other courts or administrative agencies. The court of appeals is different that the trial court's, because appeal courts do not reweigh or rehear evidence. The court of appeals job is to determine if the facts were all considered and that the correct law was applied during the trial. This court has the power to review and change a lower court's ruling.(http://www.uscourts.gov/FederalCourts/UnderstandingtheFederalCourts/CourtofAppeals.aspx,http://wiki.answers.com/Q/What_is_the_role_of_the_us_court_of_appeals).