Federal Court System

By: Madison Meyers

Types of Courts

U.S. Supreme Court
  • 1 court
  • for the Federal Circuit has nationwide jurisdiction
  • judges can uphold a decision, reverse the decision, or remand the case (send it back to the lower court to be tried again)

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • review decisions made in lower district courts
  • have appellate jurisdiction
  • one appellate judge writes an opinion that explains the thinking behind a courts decision
  • The opinion sets a precedent for other judges to follow

U.S. District Courts

  • federal courts where trials are held and lawsuits are begun
  • all states have at least one but larger states had two or three
  • have original jurisdiction

Types of Jurisdictions

Original Jurisdiction: the authority to hear the case for the first time

Appellate Jurisdiction: the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court

Nationwide Jurisdiction: a panel of judges review the case records and listens to arguments from lawyers on both sides

The process of a case

To hear a case, four of the nine justices must vote to hear a case. The case is then placed on the court calendar. The petitioner with submit a brief explaining of their case. The respondent responds with their own brief. Each side makes an oral argument for their case and answers the Justices’ questions. Each of the nine judges vote to determine the outcome of the case. The Justices explain their reasoning behind their votes.

Types of Opinions

Majority Opinion: opinion explains why the majority of judges voted for or against the petitioner

Concurring Opinion: explains an additional reason why the majority of judges voted for or against the petitioner

Dissenting Opinion: explains why some judges may disagree with the majority opinion.

Important People within the court system

U.S. Marshall: Makes arrests, collects fines, takes convicted people to prison. Also protects jurors, keeps order in court, and serves subpoenas

U.S. Attorney: Look into the charges and present evidence in the court.

Magistrate Judges: Hear preliminary evidence and determine whether the case should go to trial

Federal Judges have life terms until they are impeached