[Last update 2014apr10]

FEDERAL COURT SYSTEM:
UNITED STATES OF AMERICA

In the United States of America, there are two separate and distinct types of judicial system that have cognizance over the various and sundry legal issues which, from time to time, come to affect the everyday person who lives and/or works in the United States: the Federal court system- which enforces Federal laws, rules and regulations plus applies and interprets the Constitution of the United States, where applicable- and the court systems of the several States, which enforce the laws, rules and regulations of a given State and its Civil Divisions plus applies and interprets the State's own Constitution. These two judicial systems exist side-by-side within the larger context of the American politicolegal system and are byproducts of American Federalism.

The State court systems can be found elsewhere on this site; the table on this page refers only to the Federal court system and, even then, only to its most basic features. At the pinnacle of the Federal court system is the United States of America's Court of Last Resort, the UNITED STATES SUPREME COURT, normally consisting of a Chief Justice and 8 Associate Justices. The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the land: thus, there is no appeal beyond it in any legal case or controversy arising under Federal law; in addition (though, admittedly, the following statement is a somewhat simplified version of its jurisdiction), it can take appeals from the courts of last resort of the several States (the Constitution of the United States being the "supreme Law of the Land"- per its own Article VI, clause 2) where a State law is being challenged as violative of the U.S. Constitution and/or a State court has utilized the U.S. Constitution and/or Federal law in what is otherwise an appeal within a State's court system (as is the case in Federal cases, there is no appeal beyond the U.S. Supreme Court re: such State cases as well-- the U.S. Supreme Court is, truly, the Court of Last Resort!).

Directly below the U.S. Supreme Court in the Federal court system are the U.S. Courts of Appeals and, below these- at the bottom of the Federal court system, the U.S. District Courts. The U.S. District Court is the Court of General Trial Jurisdiction in the Federal system: the vast majority of Federal civil and criminal cases are, therefore, first heard in District Court. Appeal from a decision of the District Court is usually had to the U.S. Court of Appeals, which is the Intermediate Appellate Court in the Federal system (although, under extraordinary circumstances, an expedited appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court [thus, skipping the U.S. Court of Appeals altogether] is quite possible). In most Federal cases which come to be placed on its docket, the U.S. Supreme Court is hearing a further appeal from a U.S. Court of Appeals which itself has already ruled on an appeal from a U.S. District Court determination.

The table below lists the 12 basic Circuits of the Federal court system (in addition, there is the so-called FEDERAL CIRCUIT in Washington, DC which hears appeals from specialized Federal courts that exist apart from the ordinary U.S. District Courts as well as appeals re: certain special subjects from the U.S. District Courts) and those of the U.S. District Courts- one from each of a total of 94 Districts- to be found within each of these Circuits (the usual practice in most Federal cases, therefore, is that an appeal from a given U.S. District Court is heard by judges of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Circuit in which the District re: that District Court which originally heard the case is located).

The cities listed immediately following the full name of the courts in the table below are those considered to be the "headquarters" of the respective Federal court Circuit or District: this is usually the location of what is considered to be the "main Federal courthouse" of a given Circuit or District; where there is a possible question as to just which city holds said "main courthouse", the location of the main office of the Clerk (along with, in the case of a District, that of the U.S. Attorney) is held to be said "headquarters" city. Please note that these courts are usually authorized to sit in places within their respective Circuit or District other than the "headquarters" city indicated: the Clerk and/or U.S. Attorney might also have "branch offices" in other places within a given court's jurisdiction; also, some Districts are specifically divided into Divisions (not listed), each with its own U.S. District Court courthouse (though the court that sits therein is exercising jurisdiction over the whole of its respective District and appeal is still taken to the U.S. Court of Appeals of the appropriate Circuit).

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, FIRST CIRCUIT (Boston, MA)
U.S. District Court, District of MAINE- Portland, ME
U.S. District Court, District of MASSACHUSETTS- Boston, MA
U.S. District Court, District of NEW HAMPSHIRE- Concord, NH
U.S. District Court, District of PUERTO RICO- Hato Rey, PR
U.S. District Court, District of RHODE ISLAND- Providence, RI

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SECOND CIRCUIT (New York, NY)
U.S. District Court, District of CONNECTICUT- New Haven, CT
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of NEW YORK- Brooklyn, NY
U.S. District Court, Northern District of NEW YORK- Syracuse, NY
U.S. District Court, Southern District of NEW YORK- New York, NY
U.S. District Court, Western District of NEW YORK- Buffalo, NY
U.S. District Court, District of VERMONT- Burlington, VT

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, THIRD CIRCUIT (Philadelphia, PA)
U.S. District Court, District of DELAWARE- Wilmington, DE
U.S. District Court, District of NEW JERSEY- Newark, NJ
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of PENNSYLVANIA- Philadelphia, PA
U.S. District Court, Middle District of PENNSYLVANIA- Scranton, PA
U.S. District Court, Western District of PENNSYLVANIA- Pittsburgh, PA
U.S. District Court, District of the VIRGIN ISLANDS- Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, VI

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, FOURTH CIRCUIT (Richmond, VA)
U.S. District Court, District of MARYLAND- Baltimore, MD
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of NORTH CAROLINA- Raleigh, NC
U.S. District Court, Middle District of NORTH CAROLINA- Greensboro, NC
U.S. District Court, Western District of NORTH CAROLINA- Charlotte, NC
U.S. District Court, District of SOUTH CAROLINA- Columbia, SC
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of VIRGINIA- Alexandria, VA
U.S. District Court, Western District of VIRGINIA- Roanoke, VA
U.S. District Court, Northern District of WEST VIRGINIA- Wheeling, WV
U.S. District Court, Southern District of WEST VIRGINIA- Charleston, WV

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, FIFTH CIRCUIT (New Orleans, LA)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of LOUISIANA- New Orleans, LA
U.S. District Court, Middle District of LOUISIANA- Baton Rouge, LA
U.S. District Court, Western District of LOUISIANA- Shreveport, LA
U.S. District Court, Northern District of MISSISSIPPI- Oxford, MS
U.S. District Court, Southern District of MISSISSIPPI- Jackson, MS
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of TEXAS- Beaumont, TX
U.S. District Court, Northern District of TEXAS- Dallas, TX
U.S. District Court, Southern District of TEXAS- Houston, TX
U.S. District Court, Western District of TEXAS- San Antonio, TX

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SIXTH CIRCUIT (Cincinnati, OH)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of KENTUCKY- Lexington, KY
U.S. District Court, Western District of KENTUCKY- Louisville, KY
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of MICHIGAN- Detroit, MI
U.S. District Court, Western District of MICHIGAN- Grand Rapids, MI
U.S. District Court, Northern District of OHIO- Cleveland, OH
U.S. District Court, Southern District of OHIO- Columbus, OH
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of TENNESSEE- Knoxville, TN
U.S. District Court, Middle District of TENNESSEE- Nashville, TN
U.S. District Court, Western District of TENNESSEE- Memphis, TN

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, SEVENTH CIRCUIT (Chicago, IL)
U.S. District Court, Central District of ILLINOIS- Springfield, IL
U.S. District Court, Northern District of ILLINOIS- Chicago, IL
U.S. District Court, Southern District of ILLINOIS- East St. Louis, IL
U.S. District Court, Northern District of INDIANA- South Bend, IN
U.S. District Court, Southern District of INDIANA- Indianapolis, IN
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of WISCONSIN- Milwaukee, WI
U.S. District Court, Western District of WISCONSIN- Madison, WI

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, EIGHTH CIRCUIT (St. Louis, MO)
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of ARKANSAS- Little Rock, AR
U.S. District Court, Western District of ARKANSAS- Fort Smith, AR
U.S. District Court, Northern District of IOWA- Cedar Rapids, IA
U.S. District Court, Southern District of IOWA- Des Moines, IA
U.S. District Court, District of MINNESOTA- Minneapolis, MN
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of MISSOURI- St. Louis, MO
U.S. District Court, Western District of MISSOURI- Kansas City, MO
U.S. District Court, District of NEBRASKA- Omaha, NE
U.S. District Court, District of NORTH DAKOTA- Fargo, ND
U.S. District Court, District of SOUTH DAKOTA- Sioux Falls, SD

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, NINTH CIRCUIT (San Francisco, CA)
U.S. District Court, District of ALASKA- Anchorage, AK
U.S. District Court, District of ARIZONA- Phoenix, AZ
U.S. District Court, Central District of CALIFORNIA- Los Angeles, CA
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of CALIFORNIA- Sacramento, CA
U.S. District Court, Northern District of CALIFORNIA- San Francisco, CA
U.S. District Court, Southern District of CALIFORNIA- San Diego, CA
U.S. District Court, District of GUAM- Agana, GU
U.S. District Court, District of HAWAII- Honolulu, HI
U.S. District Court, District of IDAHO- Boise, ID
U.S. District Court, District of MONTANA- Billings, MT
U.S. District Court, District of NEVADA- Las Vegas, NV
U.S. District Court, District of the NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS- Saipan, MP
U.S. District Court, District of OREGON- Portland, OR
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of WASHINGTON- Spokane, WA
U.S. District Court, Western District of WASHINGTON- Seattle, WA

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, TENTH CIRCUIT (Denver, CO)
U.S. District Court, District of COLORADO- Denver, CO
U.S. District Court, District of KANSAS- Wichita, KS
U.S. District Court, District of NEW MEXICO- Albuquerque, NM
U.S. District Court, Eastern District of OKLAHOMA- Muskogee, OK
U.S. District Court, Northern District of OKLAHOMA- Tulsa, OK
U.S. District Court, Western District of OKLAHOMA- Oklahoma City, OK
U.S. District Court, District of UTAH- Salt Lake City, UT
U.S. District Court, District of WYOMING- Cheyenne, WY

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, ELEVENTH CIRCUIT (Atlanta, GA)
U.S. District Court, Middle District of ALABAMA- Montgomery, AL
U.S. District Court, Northern District of ALABAMA- Birmingham, AL
U.S. District Court, Southern District of ALABAMA- Mobile, AL
U.S. District Court, Middle District of FLORIDA- Orlando, FL
U.S. District Court, Northern District of FLORIDA- Tallahassee, FL
U.S. District Court, Southern District of FLORIDA- Miami, FL
U.S. District Court, Middle District of GEORGIA- Macon, GA
U.S. District Court, Northern District of GEORGIA- Atlanta, GA
U.S. District Court, Southern District of GEORGIA- Savannah, GA

U.S. COURT OF APPEALS, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA CIRCUIT (Washington, DC)
U.S. District Court, DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA- Washington, DC

 

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