The Federal Court System

By: Courtney Kitson-Module 6; Lesson 1 Assignment

First Step of the Federal Court System

The first step of the Federal court system is that a suit it taken to the lowest level of the federal court called the District court. There the district courts have original jurisdiction which is the authority to hear the case for the first time.

Magistrate Judges

*Each district court has magistrate judges who do much of the judge's routine work.

*They decide whether the accused people should be held in jail or released on bail.

*They hear preliminary evidence and determine whether the case should go to trial.

Second Step of the Federal Court System

*The second step of the Federal court system happens when the people who lose in a district court, they appeal to the next highest level-the US Court of Appeals. At the Court of Appeals they review decisions made in the District Court. This is an appellate jurisdiction. An appellate jurisdiction is the authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court.

*Each of the 12 US courts of appeals covers a particular geographic area called a circuit.

*Since Appeals Courts don't hold trial, they have a panel of judges review the case records and listen to arguments from lawyers on both sides. The judge may decide in one of 3 ways

-Uphold the original decision

-Reverse the decision

-Remand the case. Remand the case means to send it back to the lower court to be tried again.

*Appeals Courts don't decide guilty or innocent or which side should win the suit, rather they rule only on whether the original trial was fair and that it protected the person's rights.

*One appellate judge writes an opinion that explains the legal thinking behind the court's decision in the case.

*The opinion sets a precedent or model for other judges to follow in making their own decisions on similar cases.

Third Step of the Federal Court System

*The third step of the Federal Court system is the Supreme Court. Very few cases go to the Supreme Court.

*There is no jury.

*The judges are called justices.

*The issues are written as opinions.

*The Supreme Court has 9 justices.

*They get to choose which cases they take.

*The justices just ask lawyers questions.

*The Supreme Court requires a majority vote of judges to win.

*The Supreme Court is located in Washington, D.C.

*The justices has appellate jurisdiction.

*The Supreme Court has a chief justice.

Important Information

Presidential Nominations

*Presidents appoint all federal judges, with Senate approval.

*They usually appoint judges who share their views.

*Because judges serve for life, presidents view their appointments as an opportunity to affect the country after they leave office.

*Life terms is when someone can hold office for as long as they would like.

*Once appointed, a judge can be removed only through impeachment.

US Marshall

*Every federal judicial district also has a US marshal.

*Marshals make arrests, collect fines, and take convicted people to prison.

* They protect jurors, keep order in the court, and serve subpoenas ordering people to appear in court.

US Attorney

*Every federal judicial district also has a US attorney- a government lawyer who prosecutes people accused of breaking federal laws.

*US attorneys look into the charges and present the evidence in court.

*They also represent the US in civil cases involving the government.