Federal Courts w What kinds of cases can a federal court hear? w The court must have jurisdiction: “The power, right, and authority to interpret the law.” w Two types of federal-court jurisdiction: Federal-question jurisdiction. Diversity jurisdiction.
Federal Question Jurisdiction w Case involves: Federal statute or law. U.S. constitution. w Examples: Americans with Disabilities Act. Separation of church and state issue.
Diversity Jurisdiction w Federal courts can hear questions of state law, IF: The parties are citizens of different states, AND The value of the case EXCEEDS $75,000 (the “amount in controversy” requirement).
U.S. District Courts w Place where case is filed. w Place where case is tried. w 91 U.S. district courts. w Arranged geographically; at least one within each state. But NOT connected with state government. Florida has three U.S. District Courts (Northern, Middle, Southern).
U.S. District Courts w Sample name: United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. w Parties: Plaintiff (initiates action). Defendant (person being sued). w One judge presides over the case. w Case may be tried to a jury or may be a “bench trial.”
Hypothetical w Assume a plaintiff sues a defendant in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida. w The plaintiff wins. w What happens next? w 1. w 2.
U.S. Courts of Appeals w Party who loses in district court has an AUTOMATIC right to an appeal. w 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals. 12 are geographic. One is a specialty court (Federal Circuit). w Sample name: United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit (“Eleventh Circuit”).
U.S. Courts of Appeals w Parties: Appellant (party who in trial court). Appellee (party who in trial court). In our hypothetical, the becomes the APPELLANT. w Three judges (“the panel”) hear legal arguments only. No jury. No new evidence/no witnesses.
U.S. Courts of Appeals w Types of relief: Affirms = agrees with decision in trial court. Reverses = disagrees with decision in trial court. Remands = sends back to trial court for further proceedings (probably with some instructions). w What happens to the party who loses in the appellate court?
U.S. Supreme Court w Loser in U.S. Court of Appeals may file a Petition for Writ of Certiorari. w Supreme Court does not have to hear the case (“cert. denied”). w If it does: Nine JUSTICES hear the appeal. Parties: Petitioner (in Court of Appeals). Respondent ( in Court of Appeals).
State Courts w Each state has its own, independent judicial system. w Cannot be bound by the federal courts. w One state system cannot bind another court system. w Structurally, each is a bit different. But, most have three levels.
Trial Courts w State courts can hear any kind of case, unless a federal statute states otherwise. w Limited v. general jurisdiction. w Geographic: Usually by county. w One judge. w Parties = Plaintiff and defendant.
Intermediate Appellate Courts w Loser has an appeal as a right. w Florida: District Court of Appeal. w Three judges hear case. w Parties = appellant and appellee.
State Supreme Courts w May or may not have to hear the case. w Justices (odd number). w New York: Court of Appeals = highest court.