U.S. Courts of Appeals Information

Copyright 2000, VIKRAM BADRINATH, P.C. All rights reserved.



Introduction to the Federal Courts of Appeals System

The intermediate appellate courts in the federal judicial system are the courts of appeals. Twelve of these courts have
jurisdiction over cases from certain geographic areas. The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit has national
jurisdiction over specific types of cases.

The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit and the 12 regional courts of appeals are often referred to as
circuit courts. That is because early in the nation's history, the judges of the first courts of appeals visited each of the
courts in one region in a particular sequence, traveling by horseback and riding " circuit." These courts of appeals
review matters from the district courts of their geographical regions, and sometimes from certain federal
administrative agencies and other sources.

The First through Eleventh Circuits each include three or more states, as illustrated by a map The U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit hears cases arising from the U.S District Court for the District of Columbia and has appellate jurisdiction assigned by Congress in legislation concerning many departments of the
federal government.


Judges of the Courts of Appeals

As in the district courts, the judges who sit on the courts of appeals are appointed for life by the President with the
advice and consent of the Senate. Each court of appeals consists of six or more judges, depending on the caseload of
the courts. The judge who has served on the court the longest and who is under 65 years of age is designated as the
chief judge, and performs administrative duties in addition to hearing cases. The chief judge serves for a maximum
term of seven years. There are 167 authorized judgeships on the 12 regional courts of appeals.

For a list of the Courts of Appeals, click here.