• What is the structure and jurisdiction of the federal courts of
• What is the structure and jurisdiction of other constitutional
The District Courts
Federal Judicial Districts
• The 94 federal judicial districts include at least one district in
each State, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico.
• Larger and more populous States are divided into two or more
districts, reflecting the larger amount of judicial work done
District Court Jurisdiction
• District courts have original jurisdiction over most cases that are heard in federal courts.
• The district courts hear a wide range of criminal cases and civil
• A criminal case, in the federal courts, is one in which a
defendant is tried for committing some action that Congress
declared by law to be a federal crime. A federal civil case is
one which involves noncriminal matters.
The Courts of Appeals
Appellate Court Judges
• Altogether, 179 circuit judges sit in the 12 appeals courts.
• A Supreme Court justice is also assigned to each of the
Appellate Court Jurisdiction
• The courts of appeals only have appellate jurisdiction, hearing
cases on appeal from lower federal courts.
Other Constitutional Courts
The Court of International Trade
• The Court of International Trade hears civil cases arising out of
tariff and other trade-related laws.
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
• This appellate court has nationwide jurisdiction and hears
cases from several different courts.
• Most cases heard arise from the U.S. Court of International
Trade, the U.S. Court of Federal Claims, and the U.S. Court of
Appeals for Veterans Claims.
Which federal court has original jurisdiction over MOST cases heard in federal court?
a. district court
b. court of appeals
c. the Supreme Court
d. the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit differs from the other 12 federal courts of appeals because it
a. does not hear appeals from regulatory agencies.
b. can have original jurisdiction over federal cases.
c. hears cases from across the country.
d. only hears appeals from the Supreme Court.
Which of the following statements does NOT accurately describe federal district courts?
a. They handle both civil and criminal cases.
b. Like courts of appeals, they have the right to listen to appeals.
c. Like the Supreme Court, they can have original jurisdiction.
d. They are the principal trial courts in the federal system.
Answers: A / C / B