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The Court of Appeals

February 28, 2016 Hastings and Hastings

The United States’ court system is large and complex. One of the arms of this labyrinthine organization is the court of appeals, also known as the circuit courts. These courts play a very important role in the overall structure of our court system. In today’s blog, we will learn more about the function of the United States court of appeals.

What is an Appeal?

An appeal occurs when one party in a court proceeding disagrees with the verdict which has been handed down. An appeal is filled with a higher court asking them to review the decision. The defendant may try to change the verdict using a post-trial motion but this is rarely successful, thus an appeal is often the only option. The conviction or the court’s sentencing may be appealed.

The Court of Appeals

The court of appeals are considered by most to be the second most powerful courts in the Unites States, following only after the Supreme Court. The Supreme Court only hears approximately 1 percent of the cases filled with it, so the court of appeals actually has an arguably large impact on the fabric of everyday life in America. The court of appeals has the ability to set legal precedents by overturning rulings. This is not a power available to the lower federal courts.

Court Organization

The court of appeals is separated into eleven distinct circuits which rule over a specific area of the United States. In addition to the eleven circuits is the federal circuit and the District of Columbia Circuit. This Ninth Circuit is considered by many to be the most powerful of all the court of appeals as 20 percent of the United States population falls under its jurisdiction.