The Federal Court System

How does it work?

Where does it start?

When two people or groups of people have an issue (lawsuit, crimes, etc), the trial starts in a district courts. The district courts use what we call original jurisdiction, where they hear the case for the first time.

I lost, but I still think I am right! What Do I do?

Usually, when something like that happens, your lawyer will send the case to a Court of Appeals. The Court of Appeals uses Appellate Jurisdiction, where judges hear the case appealed from the previous court. Many times, a court will use precedents, which are previous court rulings and the opinion (a court's legal reasoning) to help determine their own ruling.

Which Court of Appeals do I go to?

The court of Appeals you end up attending depends upon your location within the US circuit. (US circuit displayed to the right)

What Could Happen to my case during the Court of Appeals?

Depending on your case, the judges can do one of three things. They can confirm the original ruling, reverse the ruling, or remand the case. If the judges remand the case, it is sent back to the lower court to be tried again.

What are some important people who help run the court?

Here are some important people outside of the already known Judges and Juries.

US Marshall- The US Marshall helps keep the courts running smoothly.

US Attorney- The US Attorney will prosecute people who break federal laws in the US.

Magistrate Judge- The Magistrate Judges will decide if accused people end up in jail or bailed. They also hear some preliminary evidence to determine if the court goes to trial or not. In North Carolina, their terms last only two years, unlike the Life Terms that Supreme Court Judges get.

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