The Federal Court System

The Workings of Americas Federal Court System

The Court System

District courts are federal courts set in place to hear all types of cases, from criminal to civil.

After a case has gone through the district court it can be brought to the court of appeals which is a higher court system for more important federal matters.

There are also circuit courts that have restricted local jurisdictions.


Defined as "the official power to make legal decisions and judgments" there are two types of jurisdiction in the Federal Court system.

  • Appellate Jurisdiction: The power a court has to review and chance the decisions of lower courts although the court also has the choice to remand a case and send it back to a lower court for a decision to be made.
  • Original Jurisdiction: The power of a court to be the first to review and hear specific cases

Court Positions

Do judges retire?

Most federal judges serve for life, they do not have a set number of years they serve for but instead serve life terms. Judges commonly retire around 65 or 70 years old and then become senior judges.

Keeping Things Orderly

To make sure that courts maintain fair and regular sentences courts and judges often refer to prior cases to make new decisions, this is called a precedent.


The supreme court has a set record of "opinions" that they use to dictate current cases.