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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Seventh Circuit Rejects FCA Retaliation Claim – Government, Public … – Mondaq

Seventh Circuit Rejects FCA Retaliation Claim – Government, Public …
Mondaq News Alerts (registration)
On October 11, 2016, a three-judge panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals issued a ruling in United States ex rel. Uhlig v. Fluor Corp., affirming summary …
Seventh Circuit Rejects False Claims Act and Retaliation Claims …Lexology (registration)

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united states circuit court – Google News

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US v. Wharton

(United States Fourth Circuit) – Convictions of conspiracy, making a false statement, theft, and embezzlement, all in connection with defendant’s unlawful receipt of government benefits, are affirmed over her principal contention that the district court should have suppressed evidence found at her house because the affidavit supporting the search warrant omitted material facts, where the inclusion of the omitted information would not have defeated probable cause for the search, as that information was not material.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Nava v. Saddleback Memorial Medical Center

(California Court of Appeal) – In a negligence suit brought by a patient injured while he was being transported in the hospital on a gurney, filed more than one year, but less than two years, after his injury, the trial court’s grant of defendants’ motion for summary judgment, concluding the complaint was time-barred by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5, which imposes a one-year statute of limitations when an injury is caused by the professional negligence of a health care provider, is affirmed where plaintiff’s claims were barred by Code of Civil Procedure section 340.5’s statute of limitations because the transfer of plaintiff in the hospital on a gurney was integrally related to his medical treatment or diagnosis, and, therefore, the injury occurred in the rendering of professional services.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

Soto v. Motel 6 Operating, L.P.

(California Court of Appeal) – In a suit by a former employee in her individual capacity and on behalf of all aggrieved workers under the Private Attorney General Act of 2004 (PAGA), against her former employer, alleging defendant violated Labor Code section 226(a) by failing to include the monetary amount of accrued vacation pay in its employees’ wage statements, the trial court’s decision sustaining defendant’s demurrer without leave to amend is affirmed where Section 226(a) does not require employers to include the monetary value of accrued paid vacation time in employee wage statements unless and until a payment is due at the termination of the employment relationship.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Class Action

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Details and other legal instruction: Florida Landlord’s Termination Kit