Federal Court System

Lauren Smith

U.S. District Courts

District Courts are where trials are held and lawsuits are begun originally. All states have a district courts; some have two or three. These courts have original jurisdiction- the authority to hear the case for the first time. District courts hear civil and criminal cases.

U.S. Court of Appeals

The Courts of Appeals is the next step; these courts review decision made in lower district courts. If people lose in the district courts, they often come here. Appellate jurisdiction, the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court, is practiced. The twelve U.S. Courts of Appeals all occupy a specific geographic area known as a circuit.

Magistrate Judges, U.S. Attorneys, and U.S. Marshals

Important Vocabulary

Life terms- judges may serve as long as they want

Precedent- model for other judges to follow in making decisions for similar cases

Opinion- explains the legal thinking for a court's ruling

Remand- send case back to the lower case to be tried again