What are The Special Courts? Also known as the legislative courts – they are courts created by Congress acting under its authority granted in Article I; Section 8 of the Constitution. – Each court has very narrow jurisdiction – does not exercise the broad judicial powers of government. – Judges serve a fixed term – not for life.
Military and Veterans Claims Courts Military Trial Courts – Created to make and interpret “Rules for the Governing and Regulation of the Land and Naval Forces of the United States” – Not part of the federal court system – Judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, court reporters, are all members of the military – most are officers. – Conduct trials for members of the military who violate military law. – Trials operate similarly to those in civilian courts Laws and punishments are slightly different (often more strict) Only 2/3 majority needed to convict.
Other Military Courts Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces – Civilian tribunal – part of the judicial branch; entirely separate from the military establishment. Judges, lawyers, jury are made up of civilians not military personnel. – Decisions can be appealed to the Supreme Court Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims – Hears appeals from the decisions of the Department of Veterans Affairs – Appeals from this court go to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. Military Commissions – Set up by Bush Administration in 2001 to try “unlawful enemy combatants” – Supreme Court declared them unconstitutional in 2006 in Hamdan v. Rumsfeld – Congress responded by passing the Military Commissions Act of 2006 – Obama Administration began decommissioning in 2009. – Congress and military have been resistant to these closures. – Many still remain in operation (Guantanamo Bay)
Other Special Courts The Court of Federal Claims – Hears claims for damages against the federal government. – Appeals go to Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. The Territorial Courts – Virgin Islands, Guam, Northern Mariana Islands – Function much like local courts in the 50 states. The District of Columbia Courts – A federal district court and a federal court of appeals – Local courts – general trial and appeals courts – Operate much like the courts in the 50 states. The United States Tax Court – Independent judicial body in the legislative branch – Not part of the federal court system – Hears civil cases involving disputes over the application of tax laws. – Cases most often generated by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS).