The Federal Court System

See how it works

District Courts

This is a federal court where lawsuits begin and trials are held.

Original Jurisdiction

This happen in District Courts, it is the authority to hear a case for the first time.

Court of Appeals

Those who lose in a district court usually go to this next highest level. This is where district court decisions are reviewed. The 12 US court of appeals are apart of the geographic area called the circuit.

Appellate Jurisdicton

If the reviewed case is thought to be mistaken, appellate jurisdiction is where the appealed case can be heard again.

13th Appeals Court

This is the court of appeals for the Federal Circuit that has nation-wide jurisdiction. Here, they can either go with the original decisions, reverse them, or remand them which send it back to get tried again in the lower court.

Appeals Court Decisions

Once decisions are made, and appellate judge writes and opinion giving the legal thinking on the verdict of the case. The opinion creates something for other judges to follow for comparable cases, called the precedent.


Supreme Court happens to be the only department where those appointed can serve life terms, where he or she is enabled to hold or quit their position whenever they choose to. Magistrate Judges are those who decide a person's fate with jail or released on bail. These judges also handle the judge's work as assigned and determine if a case should or should not go to trial.

Apart of the Court

US Attorneys are government lawyers who indict those charged with breaking federal laws. A US Marshal keeps order in court and orders people to attend court. They also take up fines, arrest people and take those sentenced to prison.