United States Judicial System
It may seem that our government system is overly complicated and hard to understand. In reality, it is quite simple with three branches of government working together to provide a system of checks and balances, so no one entity becomes more powerful than the others or begins to overstep their bounds. The three branches of the U.S. government are called the executive branch, the judicial branch, and the legislative branch.
The judicial branch of our government performs the task of resolving disputes between people and companies and deciding the guilt or innocence of people accused of crimes. They hold every court case up to the scrutiny of the Constitution and measure its lawfulness against the principles outlined in that document.
The executive branch of the U.S. government is expected to work with the court system and carry out and enforce the decisions made by the judicial branch. This cooperation is one way in, which the two branches of government work together.
The court system is made up the Supreme Court and lower courts with limited jurisdiction. There are three levels of the court system, the district court for each state, then the appellate court where federal cases are appealed and then the final and last stop the Supreme Court, which is the highest court in the country.
The Supreme Court’s primary function is to interpret the Constitution and apply it to legal situations in cases presented to them.
Within the appellate level, there are distinct courts that handle specific cases about things like patent law, international trade, immigration, and taxes.
A judge is assigned to every court proceeding. Supreme court judges are hand picked and designated by the President of the United States with Senate approval. Each judge appointed keeps the position until they die, are convicted of a crime, are impeached, retire or resign.
The U.S. Court of Appeals consists of 13 lower courts of appeal, and they do not use a jury. Three judges preside over each appellate court as they review and decide whether or not a trial was conducted correctly and fairly in regards to the law.
There are 94 district courts, called the U.S. District Courts. They decide the outcome of disputes by applying the Constitution to both sides and determining who is right and who is wrong under the law. District trial courts have a judge, and a jury made up of twelve ordinary, randomly chosen, people who decide the verdict.
Each U.S. state has at least one district court and some specific court types such as bankruptcy court, federal claims or international trade court.
Bankruptcy is different in that it is handled exclusively by the federal courts and a bankruptcy trial cannot be held in a district court.
Finally, there is one other type of court, and they are called Article I courts. They have limited judicial power and were created by Congress to handle veteran claims, appeals for the armed forces and tax issues