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Structure and Jurisdiction of U.S. Court System


The United States court system comprises of three main pillars, the Supreme Court at the top, 13 courts of appeal and 94 district level trial courts. The Supreme Court comprises of the chief justice and eight associate justices, it handles a subtle percentage of cases, which are usually selected if the lower courts differed on the issues, or if it involves critical questions concerning the constitution (Epstein, Segal, Spaeth, & Walker, 2015). The 94 district level courts are the primary trial courts and listen to all forms of federal cases, criminal and civil issues. These trial courts are into 12 regional circuits, and each has a court of appeal that handles challenges of the district court decisions and the jurisdiction of individual cases, including patent laws (‘Understanding the Federal Courts,’ n.d.). There are two special trial courts: cases that involve international trade and customs are addressed by the court of international trade, while those claims against the United States, including money damages, grabbing of private property by government or disputes over government contracts are dealt with by the United States Court of Federal Claims.


Act 3 of the constitution identifies the essential conditions for any hearing to take place. Any case presented before a court must be a legal dispute, which means a particular law according to the constitution is compromised. Secondly, the plaintiff must be legally harmed by the defendant thus asking for compensation, the court that the case is presented to must be authorized by the Constitution to hear and grant relief to such a case, and finally the problem to be solved must be ongoing for the court to resolve.  The federal courts tackle jurisdiction of cases involving citizens from different countries, more than $75000 potential damage and all bankruptcy to ensure asset liquidation and compensation of the plaintiff (Baum, 2012).


Baum, L. (2012). American courts: Process and policy. Cengage Learning.

Epstein, L., Segal, J. A., Spaeth, H. J., & Walker, T. G. (2015). The Supreme Court compendium: Data, decisions, and developments. Cq Press.

Understanding The Federal Courts – (n.d.). Retrieved March 16, 2017, from

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