Federal Court System | Definition

Doc's CJ Glossary by Adam J. McKee
Course: Introduction

The Federal Court System, also known as the United States Judiciary, is the system of courts that interprets and applies federal laws in the United States.

The system is composed of three main levels: the district courts, which are the trial courts; the courts of appeals, which review decisions from the district courts; and the Supreme Court of the United States, which is the highest court in the country and has the power of judicial review, which means it can declare federal laws and acts of Congress unconstitutional.

The district courts are the trial courts of the federal system, and there is at least one district court in each state, as well as in the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico. These courts have the authority to hear both civil and criminal cases involving federal laws and regulations. They also have the authority to hear cases involving disputes between states, controversies involving ambassadors, and disputes to which the United States is a party.

The courts of appeals are the intermediate appellate courts of the federal system, and they review the decisions of the district courts. There are 11 circuits: the District of Columbia Circuit and circuits for the First through Eleventh circuits, Each circuit comprises several states and it’s own court of appeals. They review decisions from the district courts within their circuit and also review certain decisions from other federal agencies.

The United States Supreme Court is the highest court in the land. It has the authority to hear appeals from the courts of appeals and from certain decisions of state courts, and its decisions are final and binding on all other federal and state courts. The Supreme Court is made up of 9 justices who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

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Last Modified: 01/11/2023


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