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Ch 3: Structure of the American Court System

About This Chapter

Gain deeper insight into the structure and institutions of the American court system using this detailed chapter. These lessons can help you get ahead in class or prepare for credit-granting or other types of exams.

Structure of the American Court System - Chapter Summary

This chapter is a flexible and mobile-friendly way to get up to speed on the structure of the U.S. court system, from the appellate courts to the Supreme Court. You'll review topics including jurisdiction, venue determination, and the state and federal court systems. The short video lessons are accessible at all times, from any device, allowing for self-paced study. You can view the lessons as often as needed, and the lesson transcripts can be printed for offline study. Complete the brief quizzes to determine what you have learned and to identify any areas where you might need further study. After finishing this chapter, you should be able to:

  • Explain the role and function of appellate and trial courts and the Supreme Court
  • Name the three levels of the federal court system
  • Detail the structure of the state court system
  • Define original jurisdiction
  • Describe how venue is determined
  • Provide details about federal, state and concurrent subject matter jurisdiction
  • Identify types of jurisdiction over property
  • Describe the jurisdiction of the Supreme Court

10 Lessons in Chapter 3: Structure of the American Court System
Test your knowledge with a 30-question chapter practice test
The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

1. The Court System: Trial, Appellate & Supreme Court

There are three separate levels of courts in our legal system, each serving a different function. Trial courts settle disputes as the first court of instance, appellate courts review cases moved up from trial courts and supreme courts hear cases of national importance or those appealed in the court of appeals.

The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

2. The 3 Levels of the Federal Court System: Structure and Organization

The federal court system has three main levels: U.S. District Court, U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court. Each level of court serves a different legal function for both civil and criminal cases.

Overview of the US Supreme Court

3. Overview of the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court justices reside over cases involving original jurisdiction under certain circumstances and appellate jurisdiction when a decision from a lower court involving constitutional law is at issue. Appellate cases require a writ of certiorari requesting permission to address this court.

State Court System: Structure & Overview

4. State Court System: Structure & Overview

There is no uniform structure to the State Court System. Each state has its own system but most states operate similarly to the Federal Court System in that there are several levels of courts including trial courts, intermediate appellate courts and supreme courts.

How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

5. How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

Venue is the location where a civil or criminal case is decided. The venue is decided similarly in civil and criminal trials. However, the venue is decided differently in state and federal courts.

What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

6. What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

Original jurisdiction determines which court will hear a case first. In this article, we'll go over the original jurisdiction of the Supreme Court, federal courts, and state and local courts.

Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

7. Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

Courts exercise two types of jurisdiction over cases: original jurisdiction and appellate jurisdiction for cases previously heard in a lower court. Judges have the option, when hearing an appeals case, to reverse or remand a decision based on a violation of law like abuse of discretion.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

8. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

One of the ways a court determines whether a case will be heard is based on subject matter jurisdiction. We will explore several factors that determine subject matter jurisdiction in state and federal courts, including concurrent subject matter jurisdiction.

Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

9. Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

In rem and quasi in rem jurisdiction give a court power over property. The court's power over the property can be used as leverage or as a means of satisfying a civil action against a defendant. The conditions that are required determine the court's ability to exercise both types of jurisdiction of property.

What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

10. What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court exercises a right to preside over specific cases and is considered the court of original jurisdiction based on subject-matter jurisdiction. It is considered an appellate court for cases involving constitutional law under certain circumstances.

Chapter Practice Exam
Test your knowledge of this chapter with a 30 question practice chapter exam.
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Practice Final Exam
Test your knowledge of the entire course with a 50 question practice final exam.
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