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

The United States court system is comprised of three levels, including trial courts, appellate courts, and the Supreme Court, which hears cases of national importance. Learn about the three levels of courts and explore the functions of each level of the U.S. court system.

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

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

There are three federal court levels: the U.S. District Court, the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, and the U.S. Supreme Court. Explore the structure and organization of these three levels of the federal court system, as well as relevant examples of court cases that have occurred at each level.

Overview of the US Supreme Court

3. Overview of the US Supreme Court

The U.S. Supreme Court, consisting of nine justices nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate, hears cases primarily concerned with violations of Constitutional law. Learn more about how the highest court in the country operates in this overview of the U.S. Supreme Court.

State Court System: Structure & Overview

4. State Court System: Structure & Overview

Many state court systems are structured like the federal court system including a lower court, a court of appeals, and a supreme court. Both appellate and supreme courts only hear cases based on questions of law, and not of facts. Learn more about the structure of state court systems and how operations vary in different states.

How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

5. How Venue is Determined for a Court Case

Determining the venue, or location, a criminal or civil court case is heard is dependent on several factors and differs between state and federal courts. Learn more about how venue is determined for a court case by examining the specifics of three important case examples.

What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

6. What is Original Jurisdiction? - Definition & Examples

Some legal cases are picked to go to the Supreme Court before any other because it has original jurisdiction. Learn about original jurisdiction as related to the Supreme Court, federal courts, and state and local courts.

Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

7. Court Functions: Original and Appellate Jurisdiction

Jurisdiction is defined as a court's authority to hear a specific case. Explore how original and appellate jurisdiction are important elements of court functions and how determining jurisdiction depends on distinct aspects of each court case.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

8. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: Federal, State and Concurrent

Subject matter jurisdiction is defined as the power of a court of law to discern a case based on the subject of the disagreement. Learn about subject matter jurisdiction (federal, state, & concurrent), when federal courts may use diversity jurisdiction or federal question jurisdiction, and how subject matter jurisdiction is applied in federal and state courts of law.

Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

9. Jurisdiction over Property: Definition & Types

Jurisdiction over property is a right given to a court of law, whereby personal property may be controlled as a means to satisfy a court case. Learn how to define jurisdiction over property, the types of jurisdiction over property (in rem & quasi in rem jurisdiction), and the conditions necessary to establish in rem or quasi in rem jurisdiction.

What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

10. What is the Jurisdiction of the Supreme Court?

The U.S. Supreme Court holds limited jurisdiction (original & appellate) to preside over specific court cases based on established criteria. Learn about the U.S. Supreme Court's limitations on jurisdiction, original jurisdiction vs. appellate jurisdiction, and the role of limited review in cases where an appeal is requested in a lower court of law.

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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