Judge Charles Burns Underlines A Few Important Points Regarding United States Circuit Courts

The federal judiciary operates separately from the executive and legislative branches of the United States, but often works with them as the Constitution requires. Courts are responsible for deciding whether a person committed a crime and what the punishment must be. They are additionally the ones to provide a peaceful way to decide private disputes that people cannot resolve themselves. As Judge Charles Burns underlines, depending on the dispute or crime, certain cases end up in the federal courts and some end up in state courts.

Judge Charles Burns sheds light on vital facets of the United States Circuit Courts

The Supreme Court of the United States hears about 100 to 150 appeals of the more than 7,000 cases it is asked to review each year. That basically means that the decisions made by the 12 Circuit Courts of Appeals across the country and the Federal Circuit Court are the last word in thousands of cases, and therefore have a huge impact on the life of the citizens. Here are a few important points regarding United States Circuit Courts that one must definitely know:

Structure and numbering: The United States circuit courts are intermediate appellate courts. They are positioned somewhat between the district courts and the Supreme Court. There are 13 judicial circuits in the country, each covering a specific geographic region. These courts are numbered from the First Circuit to the Eleventh Circuit, along with the District of Columbia Circuit. The Federal Circuit and the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit additionally are specialized circuits and have unique jurisdictions.

Appellate Jurisdiction: Circuit courts exercise appellate jurisdiction over decisions that are made by the district courts within their specific circuits. They largely reveal cases on appeal and do not accept new evidence or conduct trials. The circuit courts put emphasis on ensuring the proper application of law and determining if any errors were made during the district court proceedings.

Panel of Judges: Circuit court cases are in most cases heard by a panel of three judges. This panel is assigned randomly. These judges evaluate the arguments presented by the parties and review the record from the district court collectively. After doing so, they issue opinions on whether to affirm or reverse the lower court’s decision. En banc hearings, in which all active judges in the circuit participate, might take place for significant cases or to address conflicts within the circuit.

Types of appeals: Circuit courts do handle an expansive range of appeals. This may include criminal cases, civil cases as well as administrative agency decisions. The circuit courts do have jurisdiction over appeals involving constitutional issues, involving federal laws, statutory interpretation, as well as challenges to the application of law in the district courts.

As Judge Charles Burns underlines, the decisions made by the Circuit Courts do establish binding precedents within their respective circuits. Such precedents go on to guide future cases in the same circuit and should be followed by district courts within that circuit. However, circuit court decisions from different circuits do not bind each other. This can create the potential for conflicts between circuits in certain situations.