The Federal Court System

Sarah Yunker: Civics- March 27, 2015


  • District Courts: Trial Court
  • Circuit Courts: First Level of Appeal
  • Supreme Court: Final Level of Appeal


Jurisdiction: the official power to make legal decisions and judgements.

  • Personal Jurisdiction- Refers to the power of the court representing over the parties in a case.
  • Matter Jurisdiction- Clearly refers to whether or not a court can hear a case on a specific subject.
  • Exclusive Jurisdiction- Gives only federal courts the ability to hear cases.
  • Concurrent Jurisdiction- Federal or State courts can hear cases.
  • Original Jurisdiction- Court is the first one to hear a case.
  • Appelate Jurisdiction- Court can only hear one appeal.

Responsibilities and Characteristics of the Courts

  • District Courts- Are responsible for hearing almost every federal court case. They can be characterized as the group that selects individuals for jury duty from the 94 judicial districts.
  • Circuit Courts- Are responsible for civil, felony, and misdemeanor cases. They can be characterized as the court that hears and appeals cases from district courts.
  • Supreme Court- Is responsible for explaining the constitution when questions arise from the lower courts about specific cases. It can be characterized as the court with the highest power in the United States Government system.
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