Circuit Courts vs. District Courts


In addition to the United States Supreme Court, the federal judiciary is comprised of District Courts and Circuit Courts (or Federal courts of appeals).

Federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction, meaning they usually only hear cases authorized by the United States Constitution or federal statutes. There are exemptions to this such as cases entirely based on state law being brought to federal court under “diversity jurisdiction.” Diversity jurisdiction allows a plaintiff of one state to file a lawsuit in federal court when the defendant is located in a different state. In such cases, the “amount in controversy” must be more than $75,000. Criminal cases may not be brought under diversity jurisdiction.

District Courts are “lower” and have the responsibility for holding trials. Litigation goes first to the District Court level. Circuit Courts are appellate courts that do not hold trials but are for appeals for cases decided by the lower court. Several different district courts may fall under the same appellate (circuit) court. District courts hear both civil and criminal cases.

In a District Court case, only one judge is assigned to a case. There are 94 District Courts throughout the US and the associated territories, including Guam, the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia and the Northern Mariana Islands.There are over 670 district court judges nationwide. Each federal district also has a bankruptcy court for those proceedings. Additionally, some courts have nationwide jurisdiction for issues such as tax (United States Tax Court), claims against the federal government (United States Court of Federal Claims), and international trade (United States Court of International Trade).

The Circuit Court System is smaller with only administrative regions. Many of the Circuit Court systems are spread over many buildings and cities. Circuit Court judges rotate through each of these regions in the “circuit.” Each case in circuit court has a panel of three judges. Though it’s rare, the entire circuit court may consider certain appeals in a process called an “en banc hearing.” The Ninth Circuit has a different process for en banc than the rest of the circuits.

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Noncompete Agreement

When you’re a successful business owner, there’s always the risk that an employee will quit and start a business similar to yours, or move on to a rival business—after learning how to succeed by working for you.A noncompete agreement—formally called an “Employee Noncompetition and Nonsolicitation Agreement” or sometimes “covenants not to compete” —can prevent former employees from creating, or working for, a competing business.Important to Know: Noncompete Agreements are Restricted in Some StatesCalifornia will not enforce a noncompete agreement against employees. And other states—including Alabama, Colorado, Louisiana, Montana, North Dakota, Oklahoma, Oregon, South Dakota and Texas—have laws that limit the use of noncompete agreements. If your business is in one of the states listed here and you want to use a noncompete agreement, consult an employment law expert. No matter where your business is located, you may ask an employee to sign a slightly different document, call a “Nondisclosure (Confidentiality) Agreement” which prevents workers from disclosing client lists, processes, secret recipes or techniques—all the special things about your business that give you a leg up on the competition.Used separately or together, Nolo’s noncompete and nondisclosure agreements can help you protect your hard work, safely and legally.Additional Technical Support FAQs
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Politics|Appeals Court Hears Challenge to Obama’s Climate Change Rules – New York

New York Times
Politics|Appeals Court Hears Challenge to Obama's Climate Change Rules
New York Times
The president's Clean Power Plan generated intense interest as the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia heard oral arguments over West Virginia vs. E.P.A., the lawsuit filed by 28 states and hundreds of companies and industry
DC appeals court set to hear Clean Power Plan caseWKYT
A bunch of coal companies went to court to hobble President Obama. Then it got weird.ThinkProgress
States feud over fossil fuels in federal courtStateImpact Pennsylvania
U.S. News & World Report –Scientific American
all 235 news articles »

united states court of appeals – Google News

McCue v. City of Bangor Maine

(United States First Circuit) – In an interlocutory appeal, brought by defendants in a 42 U.S.C. section 1983 action alleging excessive force and assault and battery under the Maine Tort Claims Act (MTCA), Me. Stat. tit. 14, sections 8101-8118, filed after plaintiff’s tragic death resulting from his encounter with the five police officer defendants, the appeal is dismissed where the court lacks jurisdiction over the defendants’ interlocutory appeal, as there are material factual issues in dispute about the time at which decedent ceased resisting and the degree of force the officers continued to use against him after that point.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Gayle v. Warden Monmouth County Correctional Institution

(United States Third Circuit) – In a purported class action to challenge the constitutionality of 8 U.S.C. section 1226(c), the section of the Immigration and Nationality Act that requires the mandatory detention of aliens who have committed specified crimes, the District Court’s judgment is vacated where the District Court: 1) exceeded its jurisdiction by adjudicating the merits issues; and 2) adopted a doctrine of ‘necessity’ to deny class certification instead of analyzing the criteria enumerated in Rule 23 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

Williams v. Jani King of Philadelphia Inc.

(United States Third Circuit) – In a putative class action employment dispute involving the world’s largest commercial cleaning franchisor, classifies its franchisees as independent contractors, brought by two franchisees asserting that they are misclassified and should be treated as employees, the District Court’s grant of plaintiffs’ motion for class certification is affirmed where the claims in this case are susceptible to class-wide determination and the District Court did not abuse its discretion by certifying the class.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Class Action

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