The Federal Court System

The Supreme Court is the largest court, followed by the 12 Court of Appeals, and then the District Courts. Trials are held and lawsuits begin in the District Courts. The Court of Appeals review decisions made in the District Courts. Each Appeals Court covers a certain area of the United States called a Circuit.

Judges may right an opinion, which explains the legal thinking behind the court's decision in the case. This opinion sets a precedent for other judges to follow in making their own decisions on similar cases. A remand is when the Appeals Court send the case back to the lower court to be tried again. A Life Term is when someone can hold office for as long as they would like.

Magistrate Judges decide whether accused people should be put in jail or released on bail. They also do the judge's routine work, and hear preliminary evidence to determine whether the case should go to trial. An attorney is a government lawyer who prosecutes people accused of breaking federal laws. A US Marshall makes arrests, collects fines, and takes convicted people to prison. They also protect jurors, keep order in the court, and serve subpoenas.
An Original Jurisdiction is the authority to hear a case for the first time. An Appellate Jurisdiction is the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court.