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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Green v. Brennan

(United States Supreme Court) – In a suit brought by a former U.S. Postal Service employee, alleging discrimination or retaliation in violation of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, 29 CFR section1614.105(a)(1), the Tenth Circuit’s judgment upholding the District Court’s dismissal of the complaint as untimely, is reversed where: 1) because part of the “matter alleged to be discriminatory” in a constructive-discharge claim is an employee’s resignation, the 45-day limitations period for such action begins running only after an employee resigns; and 2) a constructive-discharge claim accrues–and the limitations period begins to run–when the employee gives notice of his resignation, not on the effective date thereof.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – United States Supreme Court

Libertarian Party of Ohio Appeals ‘Kasich Colluding’ Case To US Court of Appeals – Plunderbund

Libertarian Party of Ohio Appeals 'Kasich Colluding' Case To US Court of Appeals
But Libertarian Party of Ohio [LPO] attorney Mark Brown of Capital Law School hopes the fourth time, this time at the U.S. Court of Appeals, will give him the break he thinks his case involving coordination and collusion between and among Gov. Kasich

united states court of appeals – Google News

Rich v. Shrader

(United States Ninth Circuit) – In an employment dispute asserting claims under ERISA and California state law, the District Court’s judgment in favor of defendants is affirmed where: 1) a claim for breach of an employment contract was barred by the four-year statute of limitations, Cal. Civ. Proc. Code section 337; and 2) the employer’s stock rights plan did not qualify as an employee pension benefit plan subject to ERISA under 29 U.S.C. section 1002(2)(A) because its primary purpose was not to provide deferred compensation or other retirement benefits.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

US v. Ganias

(United States Second Circuit) – Conviction of tax evasion, in violation of 26 U.S.C. section 7201, is affirmed, over defendant’s Fourth Amendment claim that the Government retained non-responsive data on mirrored hard drives acquired pursuant to a 2003 search warrant in violation of the Fourth Amendment and that evidence acquired pursuant to a 2006 search of that data should thus have been suppressed, where: 1) the Government relied in good faith on the 2006 warrant and that this reliance was objectively reasonable; and thus 2) the Court need not decide whether retention of the forensic mirrors violated the Fourth Amendment.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Smith v. L.A. Unified School Dist.

(United States Ninth Circuit) – In a class action brought on behalf of all disabled students in the Los Angeles Unified School District, the district court’s denial of a sub-class of moderately to severely disabled children’s motion to intervene is reversed where: 1) the district court abused its discretion in denying as untimely appellants’ motion to intervene as of right under Fed. R. Civ. P. 24(a); and 2) the district court further erred when it found intervention unnecessary to protect appellants’ interest in ensuring the receipt of public education consistent with their disabilities and federal law.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Class Action

Employers Beware: Settlement Of FLSA Claims Requires Approval…

Employers Beware: Settlement Of FLSA Claims Requires Approval Of A Court Or The Department Of Labor
Mondaq News Alerts (registration)
In Cheeks, the Second Circuit affirmed the decision of the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York and held that releases of FLSA claims, and dismissals of actions asserting such claims, must be submitted to a court or the

united states circuit court – Google News

Smith v. Ryan

(United States Ninth Circuit) – Denial denial of state prisoner’s 28 U.S.C. section 2254 habeas corpus petition challenging his death sentence, imposed at 2004 resentencing proceedings, is affirmed where his contention that the trial court’s admission of testimonial hearsay during the aggravation phase of resentencing proceedings violated his Sixth Amendment confrontation rights is foreclosed by Williams v. New York, 337 U.S. 241 (1949), which held that the Confrontation Clause does not bar courts from considering unconfronted statements during sentencing proceedings.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Criminal

Kerr v. Marshall Univ. Bd.

(United States Fourth Circuit) – In a suit arising out of a student-plaintiff’s credits that were withheld in a university-defendant’s teaching certificate program, the District Court’s order granting defendants’ motion to dismiss plaintiff’s civil action pursuant to Federal Rules of Civil Procedure 12(b)(1) and 12(b)(6) is affirmed where the Court properly determined both that sovereign immunity bars plaintiff’s claims against the defendants, and that the allegations in plaintiff’s pro se complaint against the other defendants fail to state a claim upon which relief can be granted.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Civil Procedure

Geier v. M-Cube Inc.

(United States Ninth Circuit) – In a class action alleging that defendants engaged in a scheme that caused Washington consumers to become unknowingly and unwittingly subscribed to premium text messages services, the district court’s denial of defendants’ motion to compel arbitration is reversed and remanded where: 1) under Washington law, the Terms and Conditions provide that the ‘Company’s suppliers’ are intended third-party beneficiaries of the Terms and Conditions. and 2) if defendants are Company’s suppliers, they may enforce the arbitration clause in the Terms and Conditions.
FindLaw Opinion Summaries – Class Action