The Federal Court System

 The Articles of Confederation provided for no national court system.
Each state had its own laws and courts
 Article III of the US Constitution established a national Supreme Court
 The Constitution gives Congress the power to create Inferior courts or
courts with lower authority.
 The federal system now has 3 levels
 State courts handle the majority of cases heard in this country. This is
true with both criminal and civil cases
 Jurisdiction means the authority to hear and decide on a case
 Original jurisdiction – is the power of a court to hear a case first,
before any other court
 In most cases, State courts have original jurisdiction, however there
are areas in which federal courts have jurisdiction
1. The Constitution
2. federal laws
3. Admiralty and maritime law (related to the seas)
4. disputes involving the government
5. disputes between states
6. disputes between citizens of different states
7. disputes involving foreign governments
8. Ambassadors, Ministers, Consuls
 Exclusive jurisdiction - only the federal courts may hear and decide
 Concurrent jurisdiction – cases can be heard by either state or federal
- from lowest to highest
Magistrates – (judicial officer ) there are 654 Magistrates in NC;
2 yr term
- have original jurisdiction in certain misdemeanor cases usually
when there is an admission of guilt; can issue warrants; set bail;
worthless checks, small claims $4,000 and less; juvenile’s
NC District Court – There is at least one district court located in each of
the 100 counties
- 164 judges elected in non-partisan elections for 4 yr terms; 39
- Original jurisdiction in all misdemeanor cases, juvenile cases,
probable cause hearings, civil cases up to $10,000
NC Superior Court – 70 judges elected for 8 years
- 46 districts; judges rotate every 6 mos. in their division
- Original jurisdiction – felony criminal cases, civil cases over
$10,000, Also takes appeals from District Court
- Trial by 12 member jury – jury often waived in civil cases
The NC Court of Appeals – 12 judges that are elected for eight year term
- sit in panels of 3 to hear and decide cases
- meets in Raleigh
- considers and decides on cases appealed from District and
Superior Courts
- No original jurisdiction
The NC Supreme Court – 7 Justices (1 Chief and 6 Associates)
- elected for 8 year terms
- decides questions of law presented in civil and criminal cases
appealed from lower courts
- no witnesses or juries
- appeals from the NC Supreme Court go to the US Supreme Court