Brief Introduction of the United States courts

In the United States, there are two levels of court systems, the federal system and the system at state level. According to the constitution of the United States, some scholars divide federal courts into Articl 1 courts, Article 3 courts, and Article 4 courts.Court system at state level is kind of complicated, for every state has its own court system which is similar to or differs ,a little or greatly, from other’s.

Ⅰ Article 3 Courts

The following is part of the articl 3 of the United States Constitution.

Article 3.

Section. 1.

The judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish. The Judges, both of the supreme and inferior Courts, shall hold their Offices during good Behaviour, and shall, at stated Times, receive for their Services, a Compensation, which shall not be diminished during their Continuance in Office.

Section. 2.

Clause 1: The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;–to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;–to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;–to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;–to Controversies between two or more States;–between a State and Citizens of another State; (See Note 10)–between Citizens of different States, –between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.

Clause 2: In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate Jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make.

Clause 3: The Trial of all Crimes, except in Cases of Impeachment, shall be by Jury; and such Trial shall be held in the State where the said Crimes shall have been committed; but when not committed within any State, the Trial shall be at such Place or Places as the Congress may by Law have directed.

This part provides the establishment of the United States Supreme Court, and authorizes the Congress to ordain and establish inferior federal courts, including other tribunals. So these institutes are collectively referred to as Article 3 tribunals.

Article 3 tribunals consist entirely of certain federal courts. These courts are the Supreme Court of the United States and the inferior courts established by the Congress, which currently are the 13 United States courts of appeals, the 94 United States district courts, and the U.S. Court of International Trade. They constitute the judicial branch of the government ,which is defined by Article 2 of the constitution.

Under the Constitution, Congress can vest these courts with jurisdiction to hear cases involving the Constitution or federal law and certain cases involving disputes between citizens of different states or countries. Article 3 includes provisions to protect the courts against influence by the other branches of government: judges may not have their salaries reduced during their tenure in office, and their appointment is for life (barring impeachment and removal for bad behavior).

The Supreme Court has ruled that only Article 3 courts may render final judgments in cases involving life, liberty, and private property rights, with limited exceptions.

Ⅱ Article 1 Courts

Article1(Clause 9, Section 8) establishes the Congress’ power to constitute Tribunals inferior to the supreme Court, which power section 1 of article 3 also provides.

These tribunals, including courts of the kind , are referred to as Article 1 tribunals. Article 1 tribunals consist of certain federal courts and other forms of adjudicative bodies. These tribunals, as created by Congress, are of various forms, and have differing levels of independence from the executive and legislative branches. They can be Article 1 Courts (also called legislative courts) set up by Congress to review agency decisions, military courts-martial appeal courts, ancillary courts with judges appointed by Article 3 appeals court judges, or administrative agencies.

Article 1 judges are not subject to the Article 3 protections. For example, these judges do not enjoy life tenure, and Congress may reduce their salaries.

The existence of Article 1 tribunals has been controversial, and their power has been challenged before the United States Supreme Court, which has determined that Article 1 tribunals may exist, but that their power must be circumscribed and, when a potential deprivation of life, liberty, property, or property interest is involved, their decisions are often subject to ultimate review in an Article 3 court.

Ⅲ Article 4 Courts

Clause 2 of Section 3 of articl 4 writes: The Congress shall have Power to dispose of and make all needful Rules and Regulations respecting the territory or other property belonging to the United States; and nothing in this constitution shall be so construed as to prejudice any claims of the United States, or of any particular State. From this provision, the Congress is empowered to establish tribunsals ,including this kind of courts,with the jurisdiction over the territories of the US. Accordingly, these institutes are called as Article 4 tribunals.

The United States territorial courts are tribunals established in territories of the United States by the United States Congress, pursuant to its power under Article Four of the United States Constitution, the Territorial Clause. Most United States territorial courts are defunct because the territory under their jurisdiction have become states or been retroceded.

An example is the High Court of American Samoa, a court established pursuant to the Constitution of American Samoa. As an unincorporated territory, the Ratification Act of 1929 vested all civil, judicial, and military powers in the President, who in turn delegated authority to the Secretary of the Interior in Executive Order 10264, who in turn promulgated the Constitution of American Samoa, which authorizes the court. As such, the Secretary retains ultimate authority over the courts. Other United States territorial courts still in existence are:

• District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands

• District Court of Guam

• District Court of the Virgin Islands

Ⅳ Supreme Court of the United States

The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United
States. It has ultimate (but largely discretionary) appellate jurisdiction over all federal courts and over state court cases involving issues of federal law, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases. The Court, which meets in the United States Supreme Court Building in Washington, D.C., consists of a chief justice and eight associate justices who are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Once appointed, justices have life tenure.

Ⅴ the United States Courts of Appeals

The United States courts of appeals (or circuit courts) are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system. A court of appeals decides appea ls from the district courts within its federal judicial circuit, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies.
The United States Courts of Appeals are considered among the most powerful and influential courts in the United States.

Because of their ability to set legal precedent in regions that cover millions of people, the United States Courts of Appeals have strong policy influence on U.S. law; however, this political recognition is controversial. Moreover, because the U.S. Supreme Court chooses to hear fewer than 100 of the more than 10,000 cases filed with it annually, the United States Courts of Appeals serve as the final arbiter on most federal cases.

There are currently 179 judges on the United States Courts of Appeals authorized by Congress and Article III of the U.S. Constitution. These judges are nominated by the President of the United States, and if confirmed by the United States Senate have lifetime tenure, earning an annual salary of $184,500.

There currently are thirteen United States courts of appeals, although there are other tribunals (such as the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, which hears appeals in court-martial cases, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, which reviews final decisions by the Board of Veterans’ Appeals in the Department of Veterans Affairs) that have “Court of Appeals” in their titles.

The eleven “numbered” circuits and the D.C. Circuit are geographically defined. The thirteenth court of appeals is the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, which has nationwide jurisdiction over certain appeals based on their subject matter. All of the courts of appeals also hear appeals from some administrative agency decisions and rulemaking, with by far the largest share of these cases heard by the D.C. Circuit.

The Federal Circuit hears appeals from specialized trial courts, primarily the United States Court of International Trade and the United States Court of Federal Claims, as well as appeals from the district courts in patent cases and certain other specialized matters.

Decisions of the United States courts of appeals have been published by the private company West Publishing in the Federal Reporter series since the courts were established. Only decisions that the courts designate for publication are included. The “unpublished” opinions (of all but the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits) are published separately in West’s Federal Appendix, and they are also available in on-line databases like Lexis or Westla.

More recently, court decisions are also available electronically on the official Internet websites of the courts themselves. However, there are also a few federal court decisions that are classified for national security reasons.

The circuit with the smallest number of appellate judges is the First Circuit, and the one with the largest number of appellate judges is the geographically-large and populous Ninth Circuit in the Far West. The number of judges that the U.S. Congress has authorized for each circuit is set forth by law in 28 U.S.C. § 44.

Although the courts of appeals are frequently referred to as “circuit courts,” they should not be confused with the former United States circuit courts, which were active from 1789 to 1911, during the time when long-distance transportation was much less available, and which were primarily first-level federal trial courts that moved periodically from place to place in “circuits” in order to serve the dispersed population in towns and the smaller cities that existed then.

Ⅵ United States District Court

The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiraly. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States district court. Each federal judicial district has at least one courthouse, and many districts have more than one. The formal name of a district court is “the United States District Court for” the name of the district—for example, the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri.

In contrast to the Supreme Court, which was established by Article III of the Constitution, the district courts were established by Congress. There is no constitutional requirement that district courts exist at all. Indeed, after the ratification of the Constitution, some opponents of a strong federal judiciary urged that the federal court system be limited to the Supreme Court, which would hear appeals from state courts. This view did not prevail, however, and the first Congress created the district court system that is still in place today.

There is at least one judicial district for each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. District courts in three insular areas—the United States Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands—exercise the same jurisdiction as Article III U.S. district courts. Despite their name, these courts are technically not “District Courts of the United States.” Judges on these Article IV territorial courts do not enjoy the protections of Article Three of the Constitution, and serve terms of ten years rather than for life.

There are 89 districts in the 50 States, with a total of 94 districts including territories.

Ⅶ Other Federal Trial Courts

There are other federal trial courts that have nationwide jurisdiction over certain types of cases, but the district court also has concurrent jurisdiction over many of those cases, and the district court is the only one with jurisdiction over criminal cases. The United States Court of International Trade addresses cases involving international trade and customs issues.

The United States Court of Federal Claims has exclusive jurisdiction over most claims for money damages against the United States, including disputes over federal contracts, unlawful takings of private property by the federal government, and suits for injury on federal property or by a federal employee. The United States Tax Court has jurisdiction over contested pre-assessment determinations of taxes.