Federal Court System and Appellate Courts
Dual Court System
Not the same as state magistrate
They are federal equivalent of state trial court judges of limited jurisdiction
*Article I judges (not Article III judges; legislative courts)
Serve 8 year terms; Selected by Federal District
*2 court systems are needed to interpret and apply their own laws
Conducts initial appearances such as appointments of counsel for indigents, setting of bail, issue
Preside over trials, accept guilty pleas and impose sentences (misdemeanors)
may conduct full trials in civil cases
US District Court
Nominated by the President, confirmed by the senate and serve for life (good behavior)
Trial court of General Jurisdiction; Hear civil and criminal cases
Just about every civil or criminal case heard in the federal courts starts at the district court level
Reviews petitions, hear motions, hold trials, issue injunctions, and keep the wheels of justice
‘Trial courts’, meaning judges have the authority to try cases.
Judges can conduct jury trials in criminal or civil proceedings; in some instances, can decide
cases without a jury (bench trial)
Role at the trial court level is to decide questions of law.
Almost every question filed in a federal court poses questions of law and questions of fact.
Questions relating to whether the defendant actually committed the crime beyond a reasonable
doubt are called questions of fact.
Federal district courts serve the 94 federal judicial districts
Circuit Courts of Appeals Article III Judges (nominated by the President, confirmed by the Senate)
Hears appeal of criminal convictions from the United States District Court
Generally the courts of last resort for most federal litigation
US Supreme Court
Nations highest court
9 justices (8 associate justice, 1 chief justice)
Article III Judges
Reviews decisions from the United States Court of Appeals and the state appellate courts of last
Also decides cases involving disputes between states
*Rule of FourSupreme