Federal Court System

How the Court System Works

Welcome to the District Court

The district courts are the federal courts where trials are held and lawsuits are begun.

  • All states have at least one while larger ones may have more
District courts have Original Jurisdiction -- the authority to hear the case the first time.
  • This is the only federal court that involves witnesses and juries.
Federal Court Judges serve life terms -- When someone can hold office for as long as they would like

Sitting in the District Court being accused of an armed robber July 2nd, 2014 at 15:27, although I was no where near the place the robbery took place. My lawyer has called up some of my friends and supervisors to speak on behalf to convince the jury that I am not capable of such thing and I have been framed. With everything unfolding I have a good feeling they are going to find me not guilty of all charges, but the unexpected happened, I lost-- found guilty.

On to the Appeal Court

Appeals court reviews decisions made in the district courts.

  • This is Appellate Jurisdiction --- - The authority to hear a case appealed from a lower court
  • Each of the 12 U.S courts of appeals covers a particular geographic area -- circuit
Thirteenth Appeals Court -- The court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit with nation-wide jurisdiction

  • Appeals Court Do NOT hold trials, instead a panel of judges review the case records and listen to arguments from both sides.
  • Those judges are appointed by President and approved by Senate
They have the ability to uphold the original decision, reverse the decision, or remand the case -- Send the case back to the lower court to be tried again

One Appellate Judge writes and opinion -- Explains the legal thinking behind the court’s decision in the case

  • Opinion sets a precedent -- Model for other judges to follow in marking their own decisions on similar cases.
A month later, after being found guilty and sentenced to 3 years in prison my lawyer unexpectedly showed up and surprised me with some great news; a mistake was in the proceedings. That meant I was able to send my case to the Appellate judges to see if I could be let go.

The People

Magistrate Judge -- They decide whether accused people should be held in jail or released on bail. They do the judge’s routine work and hear preliminary evidence to determine whether the case should go to trial

Every federal judicial district has a US Attorney -- A government lawyer who prosecutes people accused of breaking federal laws

  • look into and present evidence
Federal Judicial District also has a US Marshal -- Makes arrests, collects fines, takes convicted people to prison. Also, protects jurors, keeps order in the court, and serves subpoenas