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Encyclopedia > United States courts of appeals

The United States Courts of Appeals (or circuit courts) are the mid-level appellate courts of the United States federal court system. A court of appeals decides appeals from the district courts within its federal judicial circuit, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies.


The judicial circuits of the eleven "numbered" circuits and the D.C. Circuit are geographically defined. The D.C. Circuit also hears appeals from agency decisions and rulemaking. 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. The Federal Circuit also hears appeals from the district courts in patent cases and certain other specialized matters.


The circuit with the least number of appellate judges is the First Circuit, and the one with the most is the Ninth Circuit. The number of judges Congress has authorized for each circuit is set forth in the U.S. Code (U.S.C.) at Title 28, Section 44.


The rules that govern the procedure in the circuit courts are the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure. Being appellate courts, the circuit courts do not hold trials, which is where witnesses and other evidence are presented to a jury or judge who then decides the facts of what happened and what, if any, damages should be awarded. Appeals courts decide only the question of whether the trial court reached the right conclusion in the case, based on the evidence presented there, so in an appeal the court considers only the record (that is, the papers the parties filed and the transcripts and any exhibits from any trial) from the trial court and the legal arguments of the parties, made in written form as "briefs" and sometimes in spoken form as "oral argument" at a "hearing" where only the parties' lawyers speak to the court.


In a court of appeals, an appeal is almost always heard by a "panel" of three of the court's judges, although there are instances where all of the judges will participate. As a rule, there is no right to appeal a decision of the federal circuit court to the Supreme Court of the United States, but a party may apply to that court to review a ruling of the circuit court -- that is called petitioning for a writ of certiorari -- and if the Supreme Court agrees, then the matter is treated like an appeal to the Supreme Court from the circuit court.


A court of appeals may also certify questions to the Supreme Court, a rare procedure that was used by the Second Circuit, sitting en banc, in United States v. Penaranda, as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington. 28 U.S.C. 1254(2).


U.S. Courts of Appeals

See each article for a listing of the States within each circuit's jurisdiction, or a complete listing under United States federal judicial circuit.


External link


  Results from FactBites:
 
United States court of appeals - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (1070 words)
Although the courts of appeals are frequently referred to as "circuit courts," they should not be confused with the historical United States circuit courts, which existed from 1789 to 1911 and were primarily trial courts.
In a court of appeals, an appeal is almost always heard by a "panel" of three of the court's judges, although there are instances where all of the judges will participate in an en banc hearing.
A court of appeals applies the law as it exists at the time of the appeal, otherwise it would be handing down decisions that were instantly obsolete, and this would be a waste of resources since such decisions could not be cited as precedent.
United States court of appeals - definition of United States court of appeals in Encyclopedia (493 words)
United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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