The Federal Court System

Unit Six Lesson One Assignment

The U.S. District Federal Court System

  • Federal courts are where trials are held and lawsuits begin
  • All states have at least one District court, but some can have two or three based on population
  • District courts have original jurisdiction- first to hear the case

The U.S. Court of Appeals

  • Middle step of three step judicial process
  • People who lose in a district court often appeal to this level
  • Appeals courts- review decisions made in lower district courts
  • Appellate jurisdiction- authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court
  • Each of the 12 appeals courts cover a particular geographic area- circuits

What the U.S. Court of Appeals Do

  • Do not decide guilt or innocence or which side should win a suit
  • Rules only on whether the original trial was fair and protected the person's rights
  • Most court decisions are final. Some are remanded and others are sent to the Supreme court.
  • One appellate judge may write an opinion- explains thinking behind the court's decision in the case
  • This opinion sets as a precedent- model for other judges to follow in making their own decisions in the case

The Supreme Court

  • Highest ranking part of the judicial system
  • The judges chosen to be in the supreme court are chosen by the president and by congress (9 in all)
  • Judges serve for life, this is also called a life term, and because they do so they can only be fired through impeachment
  • These judges can be used as the president's influence once he/she leaves office

Magistrate Judges

  • Decide whether accused people should be held in jail or released on bail
  • Each district court has magistrate judges who do much of the judge's routine work
  • They hear preliminary evidence and determine whether the case should go to trial

U.S. Attorneys

  • A U.S. attorney is a gov't lawyer who prosecutes people accused of not abiding federal laws
  • Their job is to look at the accused' s charges and present the accused's evidence in court
  • They also represent the U.S. in civil cases involving the gov't

U.S. Marshalls

  • Every federal judicial district has one
  • They make arrests, collect fines, and take convicted people to prison\
  • U.S. Marshalls also protect jurors, keep order in the court, and serve subpoenas that order people to show up in court


  • U.S. citizen
  • b/t 21-36 yrs. old
  • Bachelors degree
  • 3 yrs. of qualifying experience
  • Also can have a combo of education/ work exp.
  • Must successfully complete a background investigation
  • Valid drivers license
  • Be in excellent physical condition
  • Undergo a 17 and 1/2 week basic training program

Information obtained from Mrs. Efland's notes and images from Google Images