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U.S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeals

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Presentation on theme: "U.S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeals"— Presentation transcript:

1 U.S. District Courts and U.S. Courts of Appeals

2 U.S. District Courts Most federal cases are handled in the 94 US district courts District Courts: Federal courts where trials are held and lawsuits are begun Every state has at least one district court All cases must begin in a district court because they have original jurisdiction, the authority to hear cases for the first time. Responsible for determining the facts of a case and are trial courts for both criminal and civil federal cases. They are the only federal courts in which witnesses testify, juries hear cases, and reach verdicts

3 U.S. Courts of Appeals If someone loses their case in a district court they can appeal to the next highest level, a US Court of Appeals Appeals Courts: courts that review decisions made in lower district courts Appellate Jurisdiction: the authority of a court to hear a case appealed from a lower court Lawyers appeal if: they think the law was applied incorrectly, used the wrong procedures, or if new evidence turns up. May also review federal regulatory agency rulings if the people involved believe the agency acted unfairly There are 12 US courts of appeals and each covers a circuit, particular geographic area. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is a 13th appeals court that has nationwide jurisdiction for special cases such as those involving patent law or international trade.

4 Making a Decision in Appellate Courts
Appeals courts make decisions in one of three ways: Uphold the original decision Reverse the original decision Remand: send the case back to the lower court to be tried again A panel of three or more judges reviews the record of the case and listens to arguments from both sides Judges then meet and make a decision by majority vote Judges do not decide innocence or guilt. They only rule on whether the defendant’s rights have been protected and on whether he or she received a fair trial. In a majority of cases this decision is final however, the decision can be appealed to the Supreme Court

5 Announcing an Appeals Court Decision
When an appeals court makes a decision one judge writes an opinion. Opinion: offers a detailed explanation of the legal thinking behind the court’s decision Opinion sets a precedent for all courts and agencies within the district Precedent: gives guidance to other judges by offering a model upon which to base their own decisions on similar cases Precedent does not have the force of law, but is a very powerful argument to use in court

6 DOL Given the information on US District and Appeals Courts students will create a T-chart that compares the two types of courts

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