American Civil Procedure

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Art AMERICAN CIVIL PROCEDURE (AN INTRODUCTION) I) General Description of Court Systems The U.S. court system consists of fifty state court systems plus a similar system for the District of Columbia and a separate system of federal courts. The federal courts and most state court systems are organized into trial courts (the U.S. District Courts in the federal system), intermediate appellate courts (a losing litigant in a federal district court generally may appeal a final decision to the United States Court of Appeals for the circuit in which the district court is located), and a Supreme Court. There are today 91 judicial districts in the United States, each having its own court. Additionally, there are districts courts for Puerto Rico, Guam, the Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. Every state, as well as the District of Columbia, has at least one judicial district, and many larger states are divided into two or three, or even (in the cases of Texas, New York, and California) four judicial districts. Congress’ decision to divide a particular state into more than one judicial district depends on population, geography, and caseload. At present there are eleven numbered circuits, each embracing a largely geographically contiguous area, including anywhere form three to ten states and territories. In addition, there is a Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia, which hears appeals from the federal district court there, and one for the Federal Circuit, which handles appeals on certain matters, such as patent disputes, and from various specialized federal tribunals, such as the Court of Federal Claims. At the apex of the federal court system is the Supreme Court of the United States, composed of nine justices. Unless disqualified or ill, all of the justices participate in each decision of the Court. Most cases reach the Court on discretionary writs of certiorari from the United States Courts of Appeals or the highest courts of the states. The federal

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