Circuit Courts vs. District Courts

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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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United States Court of Appeals Re-opens Apple v. Samsung Design Suit –


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United States Court of Appeals Re-opens Apple v. Samsung Design Suit
iDrop News
The Apple versus Samsung legal saga continues on to another chapter. The US Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which hears patent appeals, has reopened the years-long lawsuit accusing Samsung of copying design elements of the iPhone in its …

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united states court of appeals – Google News

Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp.

(United States Supreme Court) – In a mortgagee’s suit filed in state court against the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), a federally chartered corporation that participates in the secondary mortgage market, alleging deficiencies in the refinancing, foreclosure, and sale of their home, the Ninth Circuit’s affirmation of the district court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion to remand the case to state court and judgment against plaintiffs is reversed where Fannie Mae’s sue-and-be-sued clause of 12 U.S.C. section 1723a(a) does not grant federal courts jurisdiction over all cases involving Fannie Mae.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – United States Supreme Court

People v. Williams

(California Court of Appeal) – Sentences and convictions of kidnapping to commit another crime, second degree robbery, kidnapping, and felony false imprisonment, in connection with a series of robberies targeting retail electronics stores are: 1) reversed in part as to defendants Williams’s and Wilson’s convictions and sentences for various counts; and 2) affirmed in part as to the remaining judgment.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Lightfoot v. Cendant Mortgage Corp.

(United States Supreme Court) – In a mortgagee’s suit filed in state court against the Federal National Mortgage Association (Fannie Mae), a federally chartered corporation that participates in the secondary mortgage market, alleging deficiencies in the refinancing, foreclosure, and sale of their home, the Ninth Circuit’s affirmation of the district court’s denial of plaintiffs’ motion to remand the case to state court and judgment against plaintiffs is reversed where Fannie Mae’s sue-and-be-sued clause of 12 U.S.C. section 1723a(a) does not grant federal courts jurisdiction over all cases involving Fannie Mae.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

The Tenth Circuit Rules SEC Administrative Judges Are Unconstitutional, Setting Up Potential

The Tenth Circuit Rules SEC Administrative Judges Are Unconstitutional, Setting Up Potential Supreme Court Review
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The constitutionality of the SEC's in-house administrative proceedings is in doubt following the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals' ruling in Bandimere v. SEC.1 In Bandimere, a three-judge panel held, by a 2-1 decision, that SEC administrative law judges

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united states circuit court – Google News

People v. Bush

(California Court of Appeal) – Conviction by jury verdict of driving with a suspended license and of receiving and acquiring proceeds knowing them to be derived from a controlled substance offense with the intent to conceal those proceeds and avoid a transaction reporting requirement, is affirmed over defendant’s unpersuasive contentions that: 1) he did not knowingly and intelligently waive his right to counsel; 2) there was insufficient evidence he intended to conceal the nature or source of the money; 3) he could not be convicted for receiving or acquiring proceeds from sales that he allegedly conducted himself; and 4) the jury should have been instructed on the elements of the underlying controlled substance offense.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal