The Federal Court System. Objectives

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1 The Federal Court System Chapter 18 Objectives 1. Explain why the Constitution created a national judiciary, and describe its structure. 2. Identify the criteria that determine whether a case is within the jurisdiction of a a federal court, and compare the types of federal court jurisdiction. 3. Outline the process for appointing federal judges. 4. List the terms of office for federal judges and explain how their salaries are determined 5. Examine the roles of federal court officers. 6. Define: inferior courts, jurisdiction, exclusive jurisdiction, concurrent jurisdiction, plaintiff, defendant, original jurisdiction, appellate jurisdiction. 1

2 I. Creation of the National Judiciary A. A Dual Court System 1. There are two separate court systems in the US. a. National Judiciary- more than 100 courts b. State Judiciary each state has its own system I. B. Two Kinds of Federal Courts 1. Constitution created the Supreme Court and left to Congress the creation of the inferior courts lower federal courts 2. Two types of Federal Courts a. constitutional courts b. special courts 2

3 Types of Federal Courts Supreme Court Constitutional Courts Created by Article III Special Courts Created by Article I 94 District Courts 12 Courts of Appeals Court of Federal Claims Territorial Courts Courts of the District of Columbia U.S. Tax Court Court of Appeals Federal Circuit Court of International Trade Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims II. Federal Court Jurisdiction A. Constitutional courts hear most of the cases tried in federal courts. 1. jurisdiction: the authority of a court to hear/try a case. 2. Federal courts have jurisdiction by: a. the subject matter b. the parties involved 3

4 Cases Under Federal Jurisdiction The Subject Matter The interpretation and application of a provision in the Constitution or in any federal statue or treaty; A question of admiralty law (matters that arise on the high seas or navigable U.S. waters. Examples: collision at sea or crime committed aboard ship A question of maritime law (matters arising on land but directly relating to the water Example: a contract to deliver a ship s supplies at dockside The Parties Involved in the Case The United States or one of its officers or agencies; An ambassador, consul, or other official representative of a foreign government; One of the 50 states suing either another stat, resident of another state or a foreign government or on of its subjects A citizen of one State suing a citizen of another State A citizen of one state suing a citizen of that same Sat where both claim land under grants from different states. II. B. All cases that are not heard by the federal courts are within the jurisdiction of the States courts 4

5 III. Types of Jurisdiction A. Exclusive: Cases can ONLY be heard in federal court B. Concurrent: Case could be tried in either state or federal courts C. Original: The court in which a case is first heard D. Appellate: a court that hears a case on appeal from a lower court Federal Jurisdiction Concurrent Jurisdiction State Jurisdiction 5

6 IV. Appointment of Judges A. President Appoints/Senate Confirms 1. chose from ranks of leading attorneys, legal scholars, law school professors, former members of congress and State court judges, 2. President will choose someone who thinks similar to him, they serve for 15 yrs or life. a. judicial restraint- judges would always try to decide cases on the basis of the original intent of those who wrote the Constitution or enacted the statue and precedent -keeping in line with previous decisions in similar cases. b. judicial activism-judges act boldly law should be interpreted and applied in light of ongoing changes in conditions and values 6

7 V. Terms and pay of Judges A. Constitutional Courts 1. Serve for life 2. Can only be impeached (happened 13 xs) B. Special Courts 1. Most are 15 years 2. D.C. Courts and Superior Court 4 yrs. 3. Appeals Courts 8 yrs. C. Congress sets pay 1. can 70 if served 10 yrs and get full salary for rest of life, or 65 if served 15 yrs. Objectives 1. Describe the structure and jurisdiction of the federal district courts 2. Describe the structure and jurisdiction of the federal courts of appeals 3. Describe the structure and jurisdiction of the other tow constitutional courts. 4. Define criminal case, civil case, docket 7

8 The Inferior Courts I. District Courts A. They are the federal trial courts 677 judges handle more than 300,000 cases a year. There are 94 courts. B. Federal Judicial Districts states divided into 89 judicial districts. 2. Each districts have at least 2 judges, usually 1 judge hears, but sometimes use 3 judge panel C. District Court Jurisdiction 1. Have original jurisdiction over most federal cases. 2. Hear both criminal cases and civil cases 8

9 The Inferior Courts II. Court of Appeal A. Created 1891 as gatekeepers to relive the Supreme Court 1. Supreme Court was 3 yrs behind on it s docket list of cases to be heard courts of appeals in the judicial system B. Appellate Judges circuit judges each SC justice looks over one circuit 2. Sit as panels of three usually sometimes en banc all judges sitting 3. Only have appellate jurisdiction and hear about 70,000 cases a year. Final decision unless SC agrees to hear the case. The Inferior Courts III. Other Constitutional Courts A. International Trade 1. 9 judges (one is chief) 2. Hears civil cases court of tariff and traderelated laws 3. sits in panels of three B. Court of Appeals for Federal Circuit 1. started 1982 to speed up hearing civil cases 2. has nationwide jurisdiction judges panels of three or more or sit en bancusually in DC, but could go to other federal appeals courts to hear 9

10 How Federal Cases Are Appealed Supreme Court US Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces 12 U.S. Courts of Appeals US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit Military Courts US Tax Court Territorial Courts Appeals from Federal Regulatory Agencies Appeals from Highest State Courts US Court of International Trade US Court of Federal Claims 94 District Courts Courts of D.C. Special Courts US Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims Other Courts Constitutional Courts Objectives 1. Define the concept of judicial review. 2. Outline the scope of the Supreme Court s jurisdiction. 3. Examine how cases reach the Supreme Court 4. Summarize the way the court operates 5. Define: write of certiorari, certificate, majority opinion, precedent, concurring opinion, dissenting opinion 10

11 The Supreme Court I. Judicial Review A. That power makes this court the final authority on the meaning of the Constitution. B. Marbury v. Madison 1. Outgoing Federalists after an election packed the judiciary with their appointees. 2. Jefferson refused to deliver the appointments. Marbury sued. SC decided in favor of Jefferson. The Supreme Court C. Effects of Marbury 1. claimed for Supreme Court the right to declare acts of Congress unconstitutional judicial review 2. used thousands of times since 11

12 The Supreme Court II. S.C. Jurisdiction A. Both original and appellate 1. Usually only uses appellate 2. Two cases when uses original a. those in which a State is a party b. those affecting ambassadors, other public ministers, and consuls 3. Can take original over any other case covered by the broad wording in Article III Section 2 III. How Cases Reach the Court A. Numbers 1. About 8,000 are appealed to the court every year, but the court only hears a few hundred B. Decisions 2. Most petitions are denied use the rule of four at least four justice must agree to hear 1. more than half disposed of in brief orders (i.e. send case back to lower court) 2. Court hears less than 100/year C. Writ of Certiorari 1. to be made more certain order by the Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review 12

13 The Supreme Court C. Writ of Certiorari D. Certificate 1. to be made more certain order by the Court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for its review 2. Either party can petition the Court for a cert. 3. When certiorari is denied the lower court decision stands 1. Another way to reach the SC 2. this process is used when a lower court is not clear about he procedure or rule of law that should apply in a case and asks the SC to certify the answer to a specific question IV. How the Court Operates A. Session 1. Sits from first Monday in October until June or July 2. Terms are identified by the year it which it began. B. Oral Arguments 1. Set date to hear cases 2. Two week cycles: listen to arguments for two weeks, write decisions and handle court business two weeks 3. 10:00 a.m. Monday, Tuesday, Wednesdays (sometimes Thursdays) public sessions 4. Lawyers have 30 mins. 13

14 The Supreme Court B. Briefs 1. written documents filed with court before oral arguments begin 2. detailed statements support one side of case, present argument on relevant facts and citation of previous cases (usually 100s of pgs.) 3. amicus curiae friend of the court brief filed by persons or groups who are not actual parties but have interest in the outcome civil rights (can only be filed with Court s permission or at it s request The Supreme Court C. Court in Conference 1. Most Wednesdays and Fridays, secret 2. Discuss cases they have heard 3. Speak in order of seniority on the court with Chief Justice speaking first 4. About 1/3 of all decisions unanimous 14

15 The Supreme Court D. Opinions 1. Majority opinion Opinion of the Court announces the courts decision in a case and sets out the reasoning on which is based. 2. Concurring Opinion on or more of the justices who agree with the Court s decision may write, to add or emphasis a point that was not made during the majority opinion 3. Dissenting Opinions written by those justice who do not agree with the Court s decisions 15

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