We have all watched TV shows and movies depicting Bethesda personal injury attorneys matching wits in a courtroom, trying to gain a successful verdict for their client. Though one can clearly see they are in a courtroom, it is not always obvious what kind. It may not matter to the plot of the show, but there are distinct roles played by the various courts. Two such courts are district courts and circuit courts. Both are important, but they provide unique functions.
The United States has numerous courts at both the state and federal level. Where a case will be tried depends on where the charges were filed and what they entail. District court and circuit court fall under the federal system.
District court, also known as the lower court, is where federal cases begin their journey. The District Court of the United States spans 94 geographical areas and employs on average over 600 judges.
Circuit court, more often referred to as the U.S. Court of Appeals, has a far different role. It is where cases tried at the district level can be appealed. The federal circuit court is comprised of 13 courts. Each district court falls under a specific circuit court in regard to the appellate process.
Points of interest:
If a case has been tried in the district court and appealed to the circuit court, there is only one place left to appeal – the U.S. Supreme Court. Only a small percent of the federal cases appealed at the circuit court level ever make it before the supreme court. On average, they accept 70 of the 7,000 cases petitioned.
The supreme court is the only one of the three courts specifically established in the U.S. Constitution. The other two were established by congress as granted by the constitution. The supreme court decides which cases it will review, and justices are particular since they only get to hear a handful of cases per year.