Types of US federal courts
Of all the federal courts in the United States, the district courts are the most numerous. Congress divided the countries into 94 federal judicial districts.
U.S. district courts are federal courts where trial is carried out, witnesses testify, and juries function. Each county has a bankruptcy court. It is part of the District Court and is responsible for the enforcement of bankruptcy laws.
Congress placed each of the 94 districts in 12 regional systems. Each system has a court of appeal. If a citizen loses the process, he can apply to the appellate court with a request to reconsider the case in connection with the incorrect application of the law by the judge.
Sometimes the courts of appeal are asked to review the decisions of administrative bodies, such as the National Labor Dispute Administration.
There is also a federal system whose courts of appeals are based in Washington, DC, but hear certain cases nationwide.
The United States Supreme Court, located in Washington, DC, is the most famous Federal Court. If a citizen loses his case in the appellate court (or sometimes even in the state supreme court), he can take his problems to the Supreme Court.
However, unlike the Court of Appeal, the Supreme Court is not required to hold hearings on incoming applications. As such, the Supreme Court hears only a small percentage of incoming cases.
Jurisdiction of US federal courts
Before a federal court can hear a case, or “exercise its jurisdiction,” certain conditions must be met. First, according to the fundamental law of the country, federal courts exercise only “judicial” powers.
This means that federal judges can only interpret laws by resolving actual legal disputes referred to in Article III of the State’s Basic Law as “cases or disputes.” The court cannot attempt to correct a problem on its own initiative or answer a hypothetical legal question.
The court cannot attempt to correct a problem on its own initiative or answer a hypothetical legal question.
Second, if there is a factual case or dispute, a federal plaintiff must also have the “legal standing” to ask the court to rule. This means that the plaintiff must have suffered damage or legal harm in some way by the defendant.
Thirdly, the case must represent the category of disputes for which the relevant law is intended, and must contain a complaint that the court is competent to satisfy.
In other words, the court must be empowered under the fundamental law of the land or federal law to hear the case and provide the plaintiff with appropriate remedies. Finally, the case cannot be “disputed”, that is, it must present an ongoing problem for the court to decide.
Thus, federal courts are courts of “limited” jurisdiction in that they can only decide certain types of cases under the directives of Congress or the provisions of the State’s Basic Law.
Although the details
Although the details of the complex system of federal jurisdiction granted by Congress to the federal courts are beyond the scope of this brief edition, it is important to understand that there are two main sources of cases that come to federal courts: jurisdiction over federal matters and jurisdiction over conflicts of law.
In general, federal courts can decide cases involving the government of the United States, the constitution of the United States or federal laws, disputes between states, or disputes between the United States and foreign governments. A case that raises such a “federal issue” may be referred to a federal court.
Examples of such cases include a claim by a citizen for the right to receive money from a federal government program (such as a Social Security program), a government claim that someone has violated federal law, or an objection to action taken by a federal agency.
A case may also be brought in federal court on the principle of “mismatched nationality” of the litigants – for example, between citizens of different states or between citizens of the United States and another country.
To ensure impartiality for a litigant from another state or state, the Constitution provides that such cases may be heard in federal court. An important limitation of conflict of law jurisdiction is that only cases involving potential damages in excess of $75,000 can be brought before a federal court.
Claims for lower amounts can only be brought in state court. What’s more, any case in conflict-of-laws jurisdiction, regardless of the amount of money involved, can be brought in a state instead of a federal court.
Have the authority to decide any bankruptcy cases that Congress directs to be heard in federal courts instead of state courts.
By resorting to bankruptcy proceedings, individuals or businesses that are no longer able to pay their borrowers can either seek liquidation of their assets under court supervision or reorganize their financial arrangements and work out a debt repayment plan.
Although federal courts are located in every state, they are not the only place available to potential litigants. In fact, the vast majority of legal disputes in US courts are handled by individual state court systems.
For example, state courts have jurisdiction over virtually all issues related to divorce and guardianship, wills and inheritances, real estate and juvenile matters, and they handle most criminal cases, contract disputes, traffic violations, and personal injury cases.
In addition, certain categories of legal disputes may be resolved in special courts or instances that are part of the federal executive or legislative branch, as well as administrative agencies of the states and the federal level.