The Federal Court System

By Katherine Laws

The purpose of the federal court system is to provide equal and fair justice to all American citizens!


U.S. Marshals

It is the job of the U.S. Marshall to arrest the guilty, collect fines, and transport the convicted to prison. It is also their responsibility to keep order in the court, which includes protecting jurors and serve subpoenas.

U.S. Attorney

A U.S. attorney is a lawyer of the government who prosecutes the accused because of the crimes that they are suspected of committing.

Magistrate Judges

A Magistrate Judge make the decision to put a criminal in jail or let them be release on bail. They must go through the Judges routine work in order to get a firm grasp on the case and its morals.

Life Terms

This takes place in the Supreme Court. It means that, once appointed, a worker may serve for as long as they would like without a cap on their term. The Supreme Court is the only federal court in which this is the case.


This is put in place to ensure an equal punishment to all who commit the same crime. It is defined as a model that other judges can use when making decisions on their own cases.


An opinion refers to the explanation that the court gives regarding their decision on the case.


This is when a case gets returned to the lower court to have a retrial.


This refers to the geographic area that the U.S. Court of Appeals uses to assign cases.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate Jurisdiction is when a court has authority to hear a case that has been appealed by a lower court.

Original Jurisdiciton

This is when a court has the authority to hold a case that has not been heard before.

District Courts

This is a type of federal court. Trials are held and lawsuits are begun here.

Court of Appeals

This is a type of federal court where decisions made by the district courts are reviewed.



When a case first occurs, it is held in the district court. The guilty is put to trial against a U.S. Attorney, while that particular district court has original jurisdiction. During the trial, order is held in the court by the U.S. Marshall. Based on a precedent, the judge releases an opinion and makes a final ruling on the case once it has been presented. The Magistrate Judge will decide the fate of the accused. If the accused is found guilty, they may be referred to a Court of Appeals based on their circuit. This court has Appellate Jurisdiction and hears the trial again. Large cases may make it to the Supreme Court, in which justices serve life terms.

For more information, watch this video:

Video by: Keith Hughes

Article III For Dummies: The Judiciary Explained