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The Federal Court System. Lower Federal Courts The Constitution allows for Congress to establish a network of lower federal courts as well. These courts.

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Presentation on theme: "The Federal Court System. Lower Federal Courts The Constitution allows for Congress to establish a network of lower federal courts as well. These courts."— Presentation transcript:

1 The Federal Court System

2 Lower Federal Courts The Constitution allows for Congress to establish a network of lower federal courts as well. These courts are of 2 basic types: constitutional federal courts and legislative federal courts.

3 The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary. Article III, section 1 of the Constitution prescribed that the "judicial power of the United States, shall be vested in one Supreme Court", and such inferior courts as Congress saw fit to establish.

4 Jurisdiction Jurisdiction is the authority to hear certain cases. Federal courts have jurisdiction in cases that involve United States – laws – treaties with other countries – interpretations of the Constitution. – bankruptcy & maritime law

5 Jurisdiction Federal courts also have jurisdiction over cases involving certain persons: – Ambassadors/representatives of foreign governments – 2 or more state governments – The US government or office/agency – Citizens who are residents of different states – Citizens who are residents of the same state but claim lands under grants from different states.

6 Jurisdiction Concurrent jurisdiction occurs when both state and federal court appear to have jurisdiction. Example: A case involving citizens from different states in a dispute concerning more than $75,000. A person may sue in federal or state court but if the person being sued insists, the case must be tried in federal court.

7 Original/Appellate The court in which a case is originally tried is known as a trial court. A trial court has original jurisdiction. If a person loses a case in trial court and wishes to appeal the decision, he or she may take the case to the court with appellate jurisdiction. If a person loses in the court of appeals, he or she may appeal to the Supreme Court, (which has both original and appellate jurisdiction.)

8 Constitutional Courts Courts established by Congress under the provisions of Article III of the Constitution are constitutional courts. These courts include: – federal district courts, – the federal courts of appeals – the U.S. Court of International Trade

9 Federal District Courts Congress created district courts in 1789 to serve as trial courts. As population grew and cases multiplied, Congress divided some states into more than one district. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. Three territories of the United States -- the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands -- have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.

10 Federal District Courts The district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters. Every day hundreds of people across the nation are selected for jury duty and help decide some of these cases.

11 Juries Federal courts use 2 types of juries – Grand jury has 16 – 23 people and hears evidence against the accused. If they think there is enough evidence, they pass an indictment – a formal accusation charging the person with a crime. – The trial jury /petit jury has 6 – 12 people. They find the accused guilty or innocent. In some states, they pass sentence on the convicted.

12 The 94 U.S. judicial districts are organized into 12 regional circuits, each of which has a United States court of appeals. A court of appeals hears appeals from the district courts located within its circuit, as well as appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.


14 Court of Appeals Courts of appeals have only appellate jurisdiction. Most appeals arise from decisions of district courts, the U.S. Tax Court and various territorial courts. These courts also hear appeals on the rulings of regulatory agencies such as the Federal Trade Commission or the Federal Communications Commission.

15 Courts of appeals may decide an appeal in one of 3 ways: – Uphold/affirm the original decision – Reverse that decision – send it back to the lower court to be tried again. – Unless appealed to the Supreme Court, the appeals court decision is final.

16 Selection of Federal Judges Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution provides that the president, with consent of the Senate, appoints all federal judges. Judges in constitutional courts are appointed to serve for life. What advantages/disadvantages (political) would there be for a judge to be appointed for life?

17 Party Affiliation/Political Philosophy Presidents favor judges who belong to their own political party. Because judges are appointed for life, presidents view the appointments are a way to ensure their political ideas will continue even after they leave office. Senatorial courtesy allows that the president submit the name of the judicial candidate to the senators from the candidate’s state before submitting to the entire Senate for approval. If either or both senators oppose the nominee, the president usually withdraws that nomination.

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