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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US v. Williams

(United States Ninth Circuit) – In a prosecution for conspiracy to violate the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO), 18 U.S.C. section 1962(d), murder in aid of racketeering, 18 U.S.C. section 1959(a)(1), and related firearms offenses, the district court’s grant of defendant’s motion to suppress evidence is affirmed where, when a defendant charged with murder invokes his Miranda rights, the government may not in its case-in-chief admit evidence of the prisoner’s unadmonished responses to questions about his gang affiliation.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Elliott Homes, Inc. v. Super. Ct.

(California Court of Appeal) – In a suit against a homebuilder seeking damages for construction defects, defendant’s petition for writ of mandate is granted where the trial court erred in concluding that real parties in interest need not comply with the prelitigation procedure set forth in the ‘Right to Repair Act’, Civil Code sections 895-945.5, prior to filing the underlying action and in denying the motion to stay.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

Supreme Court to Hear Printer Cartridge Patent Case – New York Times

New York Times
Supreme Court to Hear Printer Cartridge Patent Case
New York Times
Lexmark sued for patent infringement, and the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, a specialized court in Washington, accepted both of its main arguments. The appeals court acknowledged that the general rule is that buyers of
US top court to hear printer cartridge dispute on patent rightsReuters

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united states court of appeals – Google News

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