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Encyclopedia > United States District Courts

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 both law and equity. There is a United States bankruptcy court in each U.S. district court. There is at least one courthouse in each federal judicial district, and some large districts have more than one. The formal name of a district court is, for example, United States District Court for the Southern District of New York.


All United States district courts are named in the format "United States District Court for the XXXX District of XXXX," with the exception of the United States District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands.

Contents

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 jurisdiction over most of those types of cases, and the district court is the only one with jurisdiction over criminal cases and the only one where a trial can be to a jury instead of just a judge. The Court of International Trade addresses cases involving international trade and customs issues. The United States Court of Federal Claims has 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 assessments of taxes.


U.S. district court judges

The number of judges in each district court (and the structure of the judicial system generally) is set by Congress, and the Senate has to approve each appointment of someone to be a judge; the President appoints all judges, so the nominees often belong to the same political party as the President, or share at least some of his convictions. Judges are appointed for life, but a judge who has reached the age of 65 (or has become disabled) may retire or elect to go on "senior status" and keep working. Such "senior" judges are not counted in the quota of active judges for the district and do only whatever work they are assigned by the chief judge of the district, but they keep their offices (called "chambers") and staff, and many of them work full-time. A federal judge is addressed in writing as "The Honorable Jane Doe" or "Hon. Jane Doe" and in speech as "Judge" or "Judge Doe" or, in a courtroom, "Your Honor."


Jurisdiction

To file a civil case (that is, "sue someone") in federal district court, a person must have a reason why a federal court, instead of a state court, should adjudicate the dispute. By law, the bases for federal jurisdiction (the power to hear and decide a case) are:

  • United States as a plaintiff;
  • United States (or in certain cases a federal officer or employee) as a defendant;
  • "Federal question," which means the complaint is based on a federal law (which may be the Constitution or a statute);
  • "Admiralty" or "maritime" jurisidiction, which, very generally, applies to and governs disputes which arise out of acts occurring at sea or in other "navigable waters" within the United States.
  • "Diversity of citizenship," which means the plaintiff, or person suing, and defendant (person being sued) live in different states and the "amount in controversy" is more than the statutory minimum, which is currently $75,000.00; and
  • "Alienage", which is a variant of diversity of citizenship, wherein one party is a US citizen and the other is a foreign national who does not reside in any state - alien residents of the US are treated as citizens for purposes of diversity and alienage jurisdiction - and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.00.

Thus, not every legal dispute can be litigated in federal court, hence the expression "make a federal case out of it."


Although in matters of civil law there are often parallel federal and state laws, providing an aggrieved party with a choice of venue, there are some matters which may only be adjudicated in the Federal courts; these include most intellectual property questions and matters related to international relations. In some situations, Federal law provides both for the exclusive jurisdiction of Federal courts and for the immunity of the defendant from the power of those courts. One example of this is patent-infringement claims against a state government: only the Federal courts may hear patent cases, but the states have sovereign immunity from such suits. Although a state may choose to waive its immunity in such a case and allow it to proceed to trial, if it does not do so, the plaintiff has no recourse. (This doctrine was reaffirmed in a pair of Supreme Court cases titled Florida Prepaid Postsecondary Education Expense Board v. College Savings Bank.)


District courts also have limited jurisdiction as an appellate court, reviewing decisions of the Trademark Trial and Appeals Board and of United States bankruptcy courts.


Appeals

A formal ruling by a district court in either a civil or a criminal case can be appealed to the United States court of appeals in the federal judicial circuit that court is in.


List of U.S. District Courts

  1. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama
  2. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Alabama
  3. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama
  4. U.S. District Court for the District of Alaska
  5. U.S. District Court for the District of Arizona
  6. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas
  7. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Arkansas
  8. U.S. District Court for the Central District of California
  9. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California
  10. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California
  11. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of California
  12. U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado
  13. U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut
  14. U.S. District Court for the District of Delaware
  15. U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia
  16. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida
  17. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Florida
  18. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Florida
  19. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Georgia
  20. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia
  21. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia
  22. U.S. District Court for the District of Guam
  23. U.S. District Court for the District of Hawaii
  24. U.S. District Court for the District of Idaho
  25. U.S. District Court for the Central District of Illinois
  26. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois
  27. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois
  28. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
  29. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
  30. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Iowa
  31. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa
  32. U.S. District Court for the District of Kansas
  33. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Kentucky
  34. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Kentucky
  35. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Louisiana
  36. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana
  37. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana
  38. U.S. District Court for the District of Maine
  39. U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland
  40. U.S. District Court for the District of Massachusetts
  41. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan
  42. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Michigan
  43. U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
  44. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Mississippi
  45. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi
  46. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri
  47. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Missouri
  48. U.S. District Court for the District of Montana
  49. U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska
  50. U.S. District Court for the District of Nevada
  51. U.S. District Court for the District of New Hampshire
  52. U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey
  53. U.S. District Court for the District of New Mexico
  54. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York
  55. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of New York
  56. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York
  57. U.S. District Court for the Western District of New York
  58. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina
  59. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina
  60. U.S. District Court for the Western District of North Carolina
  61. U.S. District Court for the District of North Dakota
  62. U.S. District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands
  63. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Ohio
  64. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio
  65. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Oklahoma
  66. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Oklahoma
  67. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma
  68. U.S. District Court for the District of Oregon
  69. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania
  70. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania
  71. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Pennsylvania
  72. U.S. District Court for the District of Puerto Rico
  73. U.S. District Court for the District of Rhode Island
  74. U.S. District Court for the District of South Carolina
  75. U.S. District Court for the District of South Dakota
  76. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee
  77. U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee
  78. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Tennessee
  79. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Texas
  80. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  81. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas
  82. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas
  83. U.S. District Court for the District of Utah
  84. U.S. District Court for the District of Vermont
  85. U.S. District Court for the District of the Virgin Islands
  86. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia
  87. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia
  88. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  89. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  90. U.S. District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia
  91. U.S. District Court for the Southern District of West Virginia
  92. U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Wisconsin
  93. U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin
  94. U.S. District Court for the District of Wyoming

Extinct district courts

Most extinct district courts have disappeared by being divided into smaller districts. The following courts were subdivided out of existence:

  • U.S. District Court for the District of Alabama
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Arkansas
  • U.S. District Court for the District of California
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Florida
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Georgia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Illinois
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Indiana
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Iowa
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Kentucky
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Louisiana
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Michigan
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Mississippi
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Missouri
  • U.S. District Court for the District of New York
  • U.S. District Court for the District of North Carolina
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Ohio
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Pennsylvania
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the District of West Virginia
  • U.S. District Court for the District of Wisconsin

On rare occasions, an extinct district court was extinguished by merging it with other district courts. In every case, this has restored a district court which had been subdivided:

There are a few additional extinct district courts which don't fall into either of the above two patterns.

External links


  Results from FactBites:
 
United States District Courts (250 words)
Three territories of the United States -- the Virgin Islands, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands -- have district courts that hear federal cases, including bankruptcy cases.
Bankruptcy courts are separate units of the district courts.
The United States Court of Federal Claims has jurisdiction over most claims for money damages against the United States, disputes over federal contracts, unlawful "takings" of private property by the federal government, and a variety of other claims against the United States.
United States district court - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3113 words)
United States District Court for the District of Idaho (D.Ida.)
United States District Court for the District of Iowa
United States District Court for the District of Wisconsin
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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