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The Federal Court System

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Presentation on theme: "The Federal Court System"— Presentation transcript:

1 The Federal Court System

2 Federal Jurisdiction

3 Jurisdiction of the Courts
Jurisdiction: the authority to hear certain cases State courts have jurisdiction over cases involving state laws Federal courts have jurisdiction over cases involving federal laws Sometimes jurisdiction of state and federal courts can overlap Federal courts hear cases that involve United States laws, treaties with foreign nations, and interpretations of the Constitution Federal courts may hear cases involving bankruptcy and admiralty/maritime law

4 Jurisdiction of the Courts
Federal courts also hear cases if certain parties/persons are involved: Ambassadors or other representatives of foreign governments Two or more state governments United States government or one of its offices Citizens of different states A state and a citizen of a different state Citizens of the same state claiming lands under grants of different states A state or its citizens and a foreign country or its citizens

5 Jurisdiction of the Courts
Concurrent Jurisdiction: federal and state courts both have jurisdiction Example: Case involving citizens of different states in a dispute concerning at least $50,000 A person may sue in federal or state court The person being sued can insist on the case being tried in a federal court

6 Jurisdiction of the Courts
Trial Court has original jurisdiction Trial Court – court in which a case is originally heard Original Jurisdiction – authority of a trial court to be first to hear a case Appellate Jurisdiction – authority held by a court to hear a case that is appealed from a lower court

7 Types of Federal Law

8 Types of Federal Law Statutory Law – a law that is written down so that everyone might know and understand it Common Law – law made by judges in the process of resolving individual cases Constitutional Law – law that involves the interpretation and application of the U.S. Constitution and state constitutions Maritime Law – body of laws, conventions, and treaties that governs international private business or other matters involving ships, shipping, or crimes occurring on open water

9 Types of Federal Law Administrative Law – law that spells out the authority, procedures, rules, and regulations to be followed by government agencies Criminal Law – one that defines crimes and provides for their punishment Civil Law – one relating to disputes among two or more individuals or between individuals and the government

10 Constitutional Courts

11 Constitutional Courts
Courts established by Congress under Article III of the U.S. Constitution Courts: Federal District Courts Federal Courts of Appeals Supreme Court of the United States United States Court of International Trade

12 Federal District Courts
Created in 1789 to serve as trial courts U.S. currently has 94 district courts Each state has at least one Large states may have up to 4 Trial courts for both criminal and civil federal cases Original jurisdiction Federal statutory law, Constitutional law, an some cases between citizens of different states Hear 80% of federal cases a year

13 Federal District Courts
Two types of juries Grand Jury: people; hears charges against someone suspected of committing a crime; if the grand jury believes there is enough evidence to bring the person to trial, then the jury issues an indictment Indictment: formal accusation of charging a person with a crime Petit Jury: 6-12 people; trial jury; weigh evidence presented in a trial in a criminal or civil case Criminal Case: guilty or not guilty Civil Case: for the plaintiff or the defendant

14 Federal Court of Appeals
Created in 1891 to ease the appeals workload of the Supreme Court 13 U.S. Courts of Appeals 12 judicial regions with 1 Court of Appeals per region 13th court: special appeals court with national jurisdiction Panel of three judges sits on each appeal; in a very important case, all of the circuit judges may hear the case Appellate jurisdiction Appeals may come from district court decisions, U.S. Tax Court, and territorial courts; the courts can also hear appeals on rulings of regulatory agencies (examples: Federal Trade Commission, Federal Communications Commission, et cetera)

15 Federal Court of Appeals
Three ways for an appellate court to rule: 1. Uphold original decision 2. Reverse the decision 3. Send the case back to the lower court to be tried again Unless appealed to the Supreme Court, the decision of the appellate court is final 1982: Congress set up the United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Hears cases from federal claims court, Court of International Trade, the United States Patent Office, and other executive agencies Headquarters are in Washington, D.C. but it can sit in other parts of the country as needed

16 Supreme Court of the United States

17 Supreme Court of the United States
Top of the American legal system Supreme Court is equal with Congress and the president Last resort in all questions of federal law Not required to hear all cases presented to it – chooses cases very carefully Final authority in all cases involving the Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties with other nations Supreme Court hears many appeals from lower courts – Supreme Court decision is binding on all lower courts

18 Supreme Court of the United States
Original and appellate jurisdiction Original jurisdiction: cases involving representatives of a foreign government and certain cases in which a state is a party Congress may not expand or curtail the Court’s original jurisdiction Less than 5 original jurisdiction cases per year (on average) go to the Supreme Court Appellate jurisdiction: appealed from lower appellate courts, federal district courts where an act of Congress is held unconstitutional, and cases appealed from the highest court of a state if claims under federal law or the Constitution are involved

19 Supreme Court of the United States
9 justices 1 Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices Congress sets the number of judges and has the power to change it Supreme Court is located in Washington, D.C.

20 Legislative Courts

21 Legislative Courts Congress creates legislative courts under Article I of the Constitution Legislative courts help Congress exercise its power Examples: Congress has power to tax  United States Tax Court Congress has power to regulate armed forces  Court of Military Appeals Congress has duty to govern overseas territories (Guam, U.S. Virgin Islands, et cetera)  Territorial Courts Congress supervises Washington, D.C.  court system for nation’s capital

22 Legislative Courts Court of International Trade: resolves trade disputes by interpreting and applying customs and international trade laws; original jurisdiction U.S. Federal Claims Court: handles claims against the United States for money damages; original jurisdiction United States Tax Court: trial court hearing cases related to federal taxes; people who disagree with decisions of the IRS or other Treasury Department agencies take cases here U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces: appellate jurisdiction; highest appeals court for the armed forces; hears cases of members of the armed forces convicted of breaking military law; “GI Supreme Court” decisions can be reviewed by U.S. Supreme Court

23 Legislative Courts Territorial Courts: system of courts in the territories of the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, Puerto Rico, and Northern Mariana Islands; similar to district courts in function, operation, and jurisdiction; handle civil and criminal cases AND Constitutional cases Court of the District of Columbia: federal district court and court of appeals; various local courts handle civil and criminal cases; created by Congress because Washington, D.C. is a federal district not a state Court of Veterans’ Affairs: handles cases for unsettled claims rom veterans (usually dealing with claims for benefits)

24 Selection of Federal Judges

25 Selection of Federal Judges
Article II, Section 2 of the Constitution gives the president the power to appoint federal judges Senate must confirm all federal appointments No qualifications listed in Constitution Life term – allows the judge to be free from political or public pressure

26 Presidential Appointment
Party Affiliation: judges are not supposed to affiliate with any political party outwardly; however, presidents look for judges who are members of their own party Judicial Philosophy: presidents try to appoint judges who will share their point of view; due to a life term, the president may end up influencing court decisions for a long time after he/she leaves office

27 Senate Confirmation Senatorial Courtesy: president submits the name of a trial court judge to the senators from the candidate’s state before formally submitting the name to the entire Senate for approval; if either senator opposes the candidate, the president usually withdraws the name and finds a new candidate Only for district and other trial courts; U.S. Court of Appeals crosses multiple states and the Supreme Court is a national court Confirmation Hearing and Vote: Senate committee questions the nominee before making a recommendation; majority vote

28 Terms of Office Life term Chief Justice: $255,500/year
Associate Justices: $244,400/year Congress sets the salaries and may not reduce them

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