United States courts of appeals

United States courts of appeals

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The United States courts of appeals (or circuit courts) are the intermediate appellate court
Court of Appeals
A court of appeals is an appellate court generally.Court of Appeals may refer to:*Military Court of Appeals *Corte d'Assise d'Appello *Philippine Court of Appeals*High Court of Appeals of Turkey*United States courts of appeals...

s of the United States federal court system. A court of appeals decides appeals from the district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

s within its federal judicial circuit, and in some instances from other designated federal courts and administrative agencies.

The United States Courts of Appeals are considered among the most powerful and influential courts in the United States. Because of their ability to set legal precedent in regions that cover millions of people, the United States Courts of Appeals have strong policy influence on U.S. law; however, this political recognition is controversial. Moreover, because the U.S. Supreme Court
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

 chooses to hear fewer than 100 of the more than 10,000 cases filed with it annually, the United States Courts of Appeals serve as the final arbiter on most federal cases.

There are currently 179 Judges on the United States Courts of Appeals authorized by Congress and Article III of the U.S. Constitution. These judges are nominated by the President of the United States
President of the United States
The President of the United States of America is the head of state and head of government of the United States. The president leads the executive branch of the federal government and is the commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces....

, and if confirmed by the United States Senate
United States Senate
The United States Senate is the upper house of the bicameral legislature of the United States, and together with the United States House of Representatives comprises the United States Congress. The composition and powers of the Senate are established in Article One of the U.S. Constitution. Each...

 have lifetime tenure, earning an annual salary of $184,500.

There currently are thirteen United States courts of appeals, although there are other tribunals (such as the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces
The United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces or CAAF is an Article I court that exercises worldwide appellate jurisdiction over members of the United States armed forces on active duty and other persons subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice...

, which hears appeals in court-martial
Court-martial
A court-martial is a military court. A court-martial is empowered to determine the guilt of members of the armed forces subject to military law, and, if the defendant is found guilty, to decide upon punishment.Most militaries maintain a court-martial system to try cases in which a breach of...

 cases, and the United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
The United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims is a federal court of record that was established under Article I of the United States Constitution...

, which reviews final decisions by the Board of Veterans' Appeals in the Department of Veterans Affairs
United States Department of Veterans Affairs
The United States Department of Veterans Affairs is a government-run military veteran benefit system with Cabinet-level status. It is the United States government’s second largest department, after the United States Department of Defense...

) that have "Court of Appeals" in their titles. The eleven "numbered" circuits and the D.C. Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit known informally as the D.C. Circuit, is the federal appellate court for the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia. Appeals from the D.C. Circuit, as with all the U.S. Courts of Appeals, are heard on a...

 are geographically defined. The thirteenth court of appeals is the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit
-Vacancies and pending nominations:-List of former judges:-Chief judges:Notwithstanding the foregoing, when the court was initially created, Congress had to resolve which chief judge of the predecessor courts would become the first chief judge...

, which has nationwide jurisdiction over certain appeals based on their subject matter. All of the courts of appeals also hear appeals from some administrative agency decisions and rulemaking, with by far the largest share of these cases heard by the D.C. Circuit. The Federal Circuit hears appeals from specialized trial courts, primarily the United States Court of International Trade
United States Court of International Trade
The United States Court of International Trade is an Article III court, with full powers in law and equity. The Customs Court Act of 1980 replaced the old United States Customs Court with the United States Court of International Trade. The Court has nine sitting Judges, as well as Senior Judges...

 and the United States Court of Federal Claims
United States Court of Federal Claims
The United States Court of Federal Claims is a United States federal court that hears monetary claims against the U.S. government. The court is established pursuant to Congress's authority under Article One of the United States Constitution...

, as well as appeals from the district courts in patent
Patent
A patent is a form of intellectual property. It consists of a set of exclusive rights granted by a sovereign state to an inventor or their assignee for a limited period of time in exchange for the public disclosure of an invention....

 cases and certain other specialized matters.

Decisions of the United States courts of appeals have been published by the private company West Publishing in the Federal Reporter
Federal Reporter
The Federal Reporter is a case law reporter in the United States that is published by West Publishing. It begins with cases decided in 1880. It was preceded by Federal Cases...

series since the courts were established. Only decisions that the courts designate for publication are included. The "unpublished" opinions (of all but the Fifth and Eleventh Circuits) are published separately in West's Federal Appendix
Federal Appendix
The Federal Appendix is a case law reporter published by West Publishing. It publishes judicial opinions of the United States courts of appeals that have been not been selected for publication. Such "unpublished" cases are ostensibly without value as precedent. However, the Supreme Court made a...

, and they are also available in on-line databases like Lexis
Lexis
Lexis may refer to:*Lexis , the total bank of words and phrases of a particular language, the artifact of which is known as a lexicon*Lexis *Lexis.com, part of the LexisNexis online information database-People with the name:...

 or Westlaw
Westlaw
Westlaw is one of the primary online legal research services for lawyers and legal professionals in the United States and is a part of West. In addition, it provides proprietary database services...

. More recently, court decisions are also available electronically on the official Internet
Internet
The Internet is a global system of interconnected computer networks that use the standard Internet protocol suite to serve billions of users worldwide...

 websites of the courts themselves. However, there are also a few federal court decisions that are classified for national security reasons.

The circuit with the smallest number of appellate judges is the First Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...

, and the one with the largest number of appellate judges is the geographically-large and populous Ninth Circuit
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

 in the Far West. The number of judges that the U.S. Congress has authorized for each circuit is set forth by law in .

Although the courts of appeals are frequently referred to as "circuit courts," they should not be confused with the former United States circuit court
United States circuit court
The United States circuit courts were the original intermediate level courts of the United States federal court system. They were established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. They had trial court jurisdiction over civil suits of diversity jurisdiction and major federal crimes. They also had appellate...

s, which were active from 1789 to 1911, during the time when long-distance transportation was much less available, and which were primarily first-level federal trial court
Trial court
A trial court or court of first instance is a court in which trials take place. Such courts are said to have original jurisdiction.- In the United States :...

s that moved periodically from place to place in "circuits" in order to serve the dispersed population in towns and the smaller cities that existed then.

Procedure


Trial
Trial
A trial is, in the most general sense, a test, usually a test to see whether something does or does not meet a given standard.It may refer to:*Trial , the presentation of information in a formal setting, usually a court...

s, at which witnesses and other evidence are presented to a jury or judge in order to determine the truth or facts regarding a particular case, are held only in courts with original jurisdiction
Original jurisdiction
The original jurisdiction of a court is the power to hear a case for the first time, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction, when a court has the power to review a lower court's decision.-France:...

, i.e., courts in which a lawsuit
Lawsuit
A lawsuit or "suit in law" is a civil action brought in a court of law in which a plaintiff, a party who claims to have incurred loss as a result of a defendant's actions, demands a legal or equitable remedy. The defendant is required to respond to the plaintiff's complaint...

 is originally (and properly) filed and which have the power to accept evidence from witnesses and make factual and legal determinations regarding the evidence presented. Such trial courts also determine what, if any, punishment (in criminal cases), or what damages (in civil cases) should be awarded. Because the courts of appeals possess only appellate jurisdiction, they do not hold trials. Instead, appeals courts review decisions of trial courts for errors of law. Accordingly, an appeals court considers only the record (that is, the papers the parties filed and the transcripts and any exhibits from any trial) from the trial court, and the legal arguments of the parties. These arguments, which are presented in written form, and can range in length from dozens to hundreds of pages, are ironically known as "briefs
Brief (law)
A brief is a written legal document used in various legal adversarial systems that is presented to a court arguing why the party to the case should prevail....

". Sometimes lawyers are permitted to add to their written briefs with oral argument
Oral argument
Oral arguments are spoken presentations to a judge or appellate court by a lawyer of the legal reasons why they should prevail. Oral argument at the appellate level accompanies written briefs, which also advance the argument of each party in the legal dispute...

s before the appeals judges. At such hearings, only the parties' lawyers speak to the court.

The rules that govern the procedure in the courts of appeals are the Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure
The Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure are a set of rules, promulgated by the Supreme Court of the United States on recommendation of an advisory committee, to govern procedures in cases in the United States Courts of Appeals....

. In a court of appeals, an appeal is almost always heard by a "panel" of three judges who are randomly selected from the available judges (including senior judges and judges temporarily assigned to the circuit). Some cases, however, receive an en banc
En banc
En banc, in banc, in banco or in bank is a French term used to refer to the hearing of a legal case where all judges of a court will hear the case , rather than a panel of them. It is often used for unusually complex cases or cases considered to be of greater importance...

hearing. Except in the Ninth Circuit Courts, the en banc court consists of all of the circuit judges who are on active status, but it does not include the senior or assigned judges (except that under some circumstances, a senior judge may participate in an en banc hearing when he or she participated at an earlier stage of the same case).

Many decades ago, certain classes of federal court cases held the right of an automatic appeal to the Supreme Court of the United States
Supreme Court of the United States
The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest court in the United States. It has ultimate appellate jurisdiction over all state and federal courts, and original jurisdiction over a small range of cases...

. That is, one of the parties in the case could appeal a decision of a court of appeals to the Supreme Court, and it had to accept the case. The right of automatic appeal for most types of decisions of a court of appeals was ended by an Act of Congress, the Judiciary Act of 1925
Judiciary Act of 1925
The Judiciary Act of 1925 , also known as the Certiorari Act, was an act of the United States Congress which sought to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of the United States....

. This law was urged by Chief Justice
Chief Justice
The Chief Justice in many countries is the name for the presiding member of a Supreme Court in Commonwealth or other countries with an Anglo-Saxon justice system based on English common law, such as the Supreme Court of Canada, the Constitutional Court of South Africa, the Court of Final Appeal of...

 William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft
William Howard Taft was the 27th President of the United States and later the tenth Chief Justice of the United States...

, and it also reorganized many other things in the federal court system.

The current procedure is that a party in a case may apply to the Supreme Court to review a ruling of the circuit court. This is called petitioning for a writ of certiorari, and the Supreme Court may choose, in its sole discretion, to review any lower court ruling. In extremely rare cases, the Supreme Court may grant the writ of certiorari before the judgment is rendered by the court of appeals, thereby reviewing the lower court's ruling directly. For example, this procedure was used in the Watergate scandal
Watergate scandal
The Watergate scandal was a political scandal during the 1970s in the United States resulting from the break-in of the Democratic National Committee headquarters at the Watergate office complex in Washington, D.C., and the Nixon administration's attempted cover-up of its involvement...

-related case, United States v. Nixon
United States v. Nixon
United States v. Nixon, , was a landmark United States Supreme Court decision. It was a unanimous 8-0 ruling involving President Richard Nixon and was important to the late stages of the Watergate scandal. It is considered a crucial precedent limiting the power of any U.S. president.Chief Justice...

, , and in the 2005 decision involving the Federal Sentencing Guidelines
Federal Sentencing Guidelines
The Federal Sentencing Guidelines are rules that set out a uniform sentencing policy for individuals and organizations convicted of felonies and serious misdemeanors in the United States federal courts system...

, United States v. Booker
United States v. Booker
United States v. Booker, , was a United States Supreme Court decision concerning criminal sentencing. The Court ruled that the Sixth Amendment right to jury trial requires that, other than a prior conviction, only facts admitted by a defendant or proved beyond a reasonable doubt to a jury may be...

, .

A court of appeals may also pose questions to the Supreme Court for a ruling in the midst of reviewing a case. This procedure was formerly used somewhat commonly, but now it is quite rare. The Second Circuit, sitting en banc, attempted to use this procedure in the case United States v. Penaranda, as a result of the Supreme Court's decision in Blakely v. Washington
Blakely v. Washington
Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 , held that, in the context of mandatory sentencing guidelines under state law, the Sixth Amendment right to a jury trial prohibited judges from enhancing criminal sentences based on facts other than those decided by the jury or admitted by the defendant...

, but the Supreme Court dismissed the question after resolving the same issue in another case, which had come before the Court through the standard procedure. The last instance of the Supreme Court accepting a set of questions and answering them was in a case in 1982.

A court of appeals may convene a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
Bankruptcy Appellate Panel
A Bankruptcy Appellate Panel is a group of judges of the United States bankruptcy courts who are appointed to hear appeals from certain bankruptcy cases under the supervision of the United States courts of appeals....

 to hear appeals in bankruptcy
Bankruptcy in the United States
Bankruptcy in the United States is governed under the United States Constitution which authorizes Congress to enact "uniform Laws on the subject of Bankruptcies throughout the United States." Congress has exercised this authority several times since 1801, most recently by adopting the Bankruptcy...

 cases directly from the bankruptcy court
United States bankruptcy court
United States bankruptcy courts are courts created under Article I of the United States Constitution. They function as units of the district courts and have subject-matter jurisdiction over bankruptcy cases. The federal district courts have original and exclusive jurisdiction over all cases arising...

 of its circuit. , only the First
United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Maine* District of Massachusetts...

, Sixth
United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Kentucky* Western District of Kentucky...

, Eighth
United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* Eastern District of Arkansas* Western District of Arkansas...

, Ninth
United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit is a U.S. federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Alaska* District of Arizona...

, and Tenth
United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit
The United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit is a federal court with appellate jurisdiction over the district courts in the following districts:* District of Colorado* District of Kansas...

 Circuits have established a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel. Those circuits that do not have a Bankruptcy Appellate Panel have their bankruptcy appeals heard by the District Court.

Court of appeals decisions, unlike those of the lower federal courts, establish binding precedent
Precedent
In common law legal systems, a precedent or authority is a principle or rule established in a legal case that a court or other judicial body may apply when deciding subsequent cases with similar issues or facts...

s. Other federal courts in that circuit must, from that point forward, follow the appeals court's guidance in similar cases, regardless of whether the trial judge thinks that the case should be decided differently.

Federal and state laws can and do change from time to time, depending on the actions of Congress and the state legislatures. Therefore, the law that exists at the time of the appeal might be different from the law that existed at the time of the events that are in controversy under civil or criminal law in the case at hand. A court of appeals applies the law as it exists at the time of the appeal; otherwise, it would be handing down decisions that would be instantly obsolete, and this would be a waste of time and resources, since such decisions could not be cited as precedent. "[A] court is to apply the law in effect at the time it renders its decision, unless doing so would result in manifest injustice, or there is statutory direction or some legislative history to the contrary." Bradley v. Richmond Sch. Bd., 416 U.S. 696, 711-12 (1974).

However, the above rule cannot apply in criminal cases if the effect of applying the newer law would be to create an ex post facto law
Ex post facto law
An ex post facto law or retroactive law is a law that retroactively changes the legal consequences of actions committed or relationships that existed prior to the enactment of the law...

 to the detriment of the defendant.

Attorneys


In order to serve as counsel in a case appealed to a circuit court the attorney must be admitted to the bar of that circuit. Admission to the bar
Admission to the bar in the United States
In the United States, admission to the bar is the granting of permission by a particular court system to a lawyer to practice law in that system. Each U.S. state and similar jurisdiction has its own court system and sets its own rules for bar admission , which can lead to different admission...

 of a circuit court is granted as a matter of course to any attorney who is admitted to practice law in any state of the United States. The attorney submits an application, pays a fee, and takes the oath of admission. Local practice varies as to whether the oath is given in writing or in open court before a judge of the circuit, and most courts of appeals allow the applicant attorney to choose which method he or she prefers.

Nomenclature


When the courts of appeals were created in 1891, one was created for each of the nine circuits then existing, and each court was named the "United States Circuit Court of Appeals for the _____ Circuit". When a court of appeals was created for the District of Columbia in 1893, it was named the "Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia", and it was renamed to the "United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia" in 1934. In 1948, Congress renamed all of the courts of appeals then existing to their current formal names: the court of appeals for each numbered circuit was named the "United States Court of Appeals for the _____ Circuit", and the "United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia" became the “United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit". The Tenth Circuit was created in 1929 by subdividing the existing Eighth Circuit, and the Eleventh Circuit was created in 1981 by subdividing the existing Fifth Circuit. The Federal Circuit was created in 1982 by the merger of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the United States Court of Claims.

Circuit population


Based on 2008 U.S. census estimates, the population residing in each circuit is as follows.
Circuit Authorized Judges Population Percentage of U.S. Pop.
D.C. Circuit 11 591,833 0.19
1st circuit 6 14,135,057 4.58
2nd Circuit 13 23,612,819 7.66
3rd Circuit 14 22,112,480 7.17
4th Circuit 15 28,919,368 9.38
5th Circuit 17 31,676,388 10.27
6th Circuit 16 31,973,465 10.37
7th Circuit 11 24,906,322 8.08
8th Circuit 11 20,219,050 6.56
9th Circuit 29 60,920,046 19.75
10th Circuit 12 16,637,399 5.40
11th Circuit 12 32,675,984 10.60

History


The Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary...

 established three circuits, which were groups of judicial districts
United States federal judicial district
For purposes of the federal judicial system, Congress has divided the United States into judicial districts. There are 94 federal judicial districts, including at least one district in each state, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico...

 in which United States circuit court
United States circuit court
The United States circuit courts were the original intermediate level courts of the United States federal court system. They were established by the Judiciary Act of 1789. They had trial court jurisdiction over civil suits of diversity jurisdiction and major federal crimes. They also had appellate...

s were established. Each circuit court consisted of two Supreme Court justices and the local district judge; the three circuits existed solely for the purpose of assigning the justices to a group of circuit courts. Some districts (generally the ones most difficult for an itinerant justice to reach) did not have a circuit court; in these districts the district court exercised the original jurisdiction of a circuit court. As new states were admitted to the Union, Congress often did not create circuit courts for them for a number of years.

The Judiciary Act of 1801 reorganized the districts into six circuits, and created circuit judgeships so that Supreme Court justices would no longer have to ride circuit. This Act, however, was repealed in March 1802, and Congress provided that the former circuit courts would be revived as of July 1 of that year. But it then passed the new Judiciary Act of 1802
Judiciary Act of 1802
The United States Judiciary Act of 1802 was a Federal statute, enacted on April 29, 1802, to reorganize the federal court system. It restored some elements of the Judiciary Act of 1801, which had been adopted by the Federalist majority in the previous Congress, but was repealed by the...

 in April, so that the revival of the old courts never took effect. The 1802 Act restored circuit riding, but with only one justice to a circuit; it therefore created six new circuits, but with slightly different compositions than the 1801 Act. These six circuits later were augmented by others. Until 1866, each new circuit (except the short-lived California Circuit) was accompanied by a newly-created Supreme Court seat.
State Judicial District(s) created Circuit assignment(s)
New Hampshire
New Hampshire
New Hampshire is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state was named after the southern English county of Hampshire. It is bordered by Massachusetts to the south, Vermont to the west, Maine and the Atlantic Ocean to the east, and the Canadian...

1789 Eastern, 1789–1801
1st, 1801–
Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

1789 Eastern, 1789–1801
1st, 1801-
Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

1789The Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary...

 divided Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

 into the Kentucky District, comprising what is now the Commonwealth of Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

, and the Virginia District, comprising the remainder of the state.
1st, 1801–1802
1st, 1820–
Rhode Island
Rhode Island
The state of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, more commonly referred to as Rhode Island , is a state in the New England region of the United States. It is the smallest U.S. state by area...

1790 Eastern, 1790–1801
1st, 1801-
Connecticut
Connecticut
Connecticut is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States. It is bordered by Rhode Island to the east, Massachusetts to the north, and the state of New York to the west and the south .Connecticut is named for the Connecticut River, the major U.S. river that approximately...

1789 Eastern, 1789–1801
2nd, 1801-
New York
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

1789 Eastern, 1789–1801
2nd, 1801-
New Jersey
New Jersey
New Jersey is a state in the Northeastern and Middle Atlantic regions of the United States. , its population was 8,791,894. It is bordered on the north and east by the state of New York, on the southeast and south by the Atlantic Ocean, on the west by Pennsylvania and on the southwest by Delaware...

1789 Middle, 1789–1801
3rd, 1801-
Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania
The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania is a U.S. state that is located in the Northeastern and Mid-Atlantic regions of the United States. The state borders Delaware and Maryland to the south, West Virginia to the southwest, Ohio to the west, New York and Ontario, Canada, to the north, and New Jersey to...

1789 Middle, 1789–1801
3rd, 1801-
Delaware
Delaware
Delaware is a U.S. state located on the Atlantic Coast in the Mid-Atlantic region of the United States. It is bordered to the south and west by Maryland, and to the north by Pennsylvania...

1789 Middle, 1789–1801
3rd, 1801–1802
4th, 1802–1866
3rd, 1866–
Maryland
Maryland
Maryland is a U.S. state located in the Mid Atlantic region of the United States, bordering Virginia, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia to its south and west; Pennsylvania to its north; and Delaware to its east...

1789 Middle, 1789–1801
4th, 1801-
Virginia
Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia , is a U.S. state on the Atlantic Coast of the Southern United States. Virginia is nicknamed the "Old Dominion" and sometimes the "Mother of Presidents" after the eight U.S. presidents born there...

1789 Middle, 1789–1801
4th, 1801–1802
5th, 1802–1842
4th, 1842–
Kentucky
Kentucky
The Commonwealth of Kentucky is a state located in the East Central United States of America. As classified by the United States Census Bureau, Kentucky is a Southern state, more specifically in the East South Central region. Kentucky is one of four U.S. states constituted as a commonwealth...

1789The Judiciary Act of 1789
Judiciary Act of 1789
The United States Judiciary Act of 1789 was a landmark statute adopted on September 24, 1789 in the first session of the First United States Congress establishing the U.S. federal judiciary...

 divided Massachusetts
Massachusetts
The Commonwealth of Massachusetts is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. It is bordered by Rhode Island and Connecticut to the south, New York to the west, and Vermont and New Hampshire to the north; at its east lies the Atlantic Ocean. As of the 2010...

 into the Maine District, comprising what is now the State of Maine
Maine
Maine is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States, bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the east and south, New Hampshire to the west, and the Canadian provinces of Quebec to the northwest and New Brunswick to the northeast. Maine is both the northernmost and easternmost...

, and the Massachusetts District, comprising the remainder of the state.
6th, 1801–1802
7th, 1807–1837
8th, 1837–1863
6th, 1863–
North Carolina
North Carolina
North Carolina is a state located in the southeastern United States. The state borders South Carolina and Georgia to the south, Tennessee to the west and Virginia to the north. North Carolina contains 100 counties. Its capital is Raleigh, and its largest city is Charlotte...

1790 Southern, 1790–1801
5th, 1801-1842
6th, 1842–1863
4th, 1863–
South Carolina
South Carolina
South Carolina is a state in the Deep South of the United States that borders Georgia to the south, North Carolina to the north, and the Atlantic Ocean to the east. Originally part of the Province of Carolina, the Province of South Carolina was one of the 13 colonies that declared independence...

1789 Southern, 1789–1801
5th, 1801–1802
6th, 1802–1863
5th, 1863-1866
4th, 1866-
Georgia
Georgia (U.S. state)
Georgia is a state located in the southeastern United States. It was established in 1732, the last of the original Thirteen Colonies. The state is named after King George II of Great Britain. Georgia was the fourth state to ratify the United States Constitution, on January 2, 1788...

1789 Southern, 1789–1801
5th, 1801–1802
6th, 1802–1863
5th, 1863–1981
11th, 1981–
Vermont
Vermont
Vermont is a state in the New England region of the northeastern United States of America. The state ranks 43rd in land area, , and 45th in total area. Its population according to the 2010 census, 630,337, is the second smallest in the country, larger only than Wyoming. It is the only New England...

1791 Eastern, 1791–1801
2nd, 1801-
Tennessee
Tennessee
Tennessee is a U.S. state located in the Southeastern United States. It has a population of 6,346,105, making it the nation's 17th-largest state by population, and covers , making it the 36th-largest by total land area...

1796 6th, 1801–1802
7th, 1807–1837
8th, 1837–1863
6th, 1863–
Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

1801 (abolished 1802)The first District of Ohio encompassed the Northwest
Northwest Territory
The Territory Northwest of the River Ohio, more commonly known as the Northwest Territory, was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 13, 1787, until March 1, 1803, when the southeastern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Ohio...

 and Indiana Territories
Indiana Territory
The Territory of Indiana was an organized incorporated territory of the United States that existed from July 4, 1800, until November 7, 1816, when the southern portion of the territory was admitted to the Union as the state of Indiana....

.
6th, 1801–1802
Ohio
Ohio
Ohio is a Midwestern state in the United States. The 34th largest state by area in the U.S.,it is the 7th‑most populous with over 11.5 million residents, containing several major American cities and seven metropolitan areas with populations of 500,000 or more.The state's capital is Columbus...

1803 7th, 1807-1866
6th, 1866–
Louisiana
Louisiana
Louisiana is a state located in the southern region of the United States of America. Its capital is Baton Rouge and largest city is New Orleans. Louisiana is the only state in the U.S. with political subdivisions termed parishes, which are local governments equivalent to counties...

1812 9th, 1837–1842 (Eastern District)
5th, 1842-1863
6th, 1863–1866
5th, 1866–
Indiana
Indiana
Indiana is a US state, admitted to the United States as the 19th on December 11, 1816. It is located in the Midwestern United States and Great Lakes Region. With 6,483,802 residents, the state is ranked 15th in population and 16th in population density. Indiana is ranked 38th in land area and is...

1816 7th, 1837–
Mississippi
Mississippi
Mississippi is a U.S. state located in the Southern United States. Jackson is the state capital and largest city. The name of the state derives from the Mississippi River, which flows along its western boundary, whose name comes from the Ojibwe word misi-ziibi...

1817 9th, 1837–1863
5th, 1863–
Illinois
Illinois
Illinois is the fifth-most populous state of the United States of America, and is often noted for being a microcosm of the entire country. With Chicago in the northeast, small industrial cities and great agricultural productivity in central and northern Illinois, and natural resources like coal,...

1818 7th, 1837–1863
8th, 1863-1866
7th, 1866–
Alabama
Alabama
Alabama is a state located in the southeastern region of the United States. It is bordered by Tennessee to the north, Georgia to the east, Florida and the Gulf of Mexico to the south, and Mississippi to the west. Alabama ranks 30th in total land area and ranks second in the size of its inland...

1819 9th, 1837–1842
5th, 1842–1981
11th, 1981–
Missouri
Missouri
Missouri is a US state located in the Midwestern United States, bordered by Iowa, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, Arkansas, Oklahoma, Kansas and Nebraska. With a 2010 population of 5,988,927, Missouri is the 18th most populous state in the nation and the fifth most populous in the Midwest. It...

1821 8th, 1837–1863
9th, 1863–1866
8th, 1866–
Arkansas
Arkansas
Arkansas is a state located in the southern region of the United States. Its name is an Algonquian name of the Quapaw Indians. Arkansas shares borders with six states , and its eastern border is largely defined by the Mississippi River...

1836 9th, 1837–1851
9th, 1851–1863 (Eastern District)
6th, 1863–1866 (Eastern District)
8th, 1866–
Michigan
Michigan
Michigan is a U.S. state located in the Great Lakes Region of the United States of America. The name Michigan is the French form of the Ojibwa word mishigamaa, meaning "large water" or "large lake"....

1837 7th, 1837–1863
8th, 1863–1866
6th, 1866–
Florida
Florida
Florida is a state in the southeastern United States, located on the nation's Atlantic and Gulf coasts. It is bordered to the west by the Gulf of Mexico, to the north by Alabama and Georgia and to the east by the Atlantic Ocean. With a population of 18,801,310 as measured by the 2010 census, it...

1845 5th, 1863–1981
11th, 1981–
Texas
Texas
Texas is the second largest U.S. state by both area and population, and the largest state by area in the contiguous United States.The name, based on the Caddo word "Tejas" meaning "friends" or "allies", was applied by the Spanish to the Caddo themselves and to the region of their settlement in...

1845 6th, 1863–1866
5th, 1866–
Iowa
Iowa
Iowa is a state located in the Midwestern United States, an area often referred to as the "American Heartland". It derives its name from the Ioway people, one of the many American Indian tribes that occupied the state at the time of European exploration. Iowa was a part of the French colony of New...

1846 9th, 1863–1866
8th, 1866–
Wisconsin
Wisconsin
Wisconsin is a U.S. state located in the north-central United States and is part of the Midwest. It is bordered by Minnesota to the west, Iowa to the southwest, Illinois to the south, Lake Michigan to the east, Michigan to the northeast, and Lake Superior to the north. Wisconsin's capital is...

1848 8th, 1863–1866
7th, 1866–
California
California
California is a state located on the West Coast of the United States. It is by far the most populous U.S. state, and the third-largest by land area...

1850 California Circuit, 1855–1863
10th, 1863–1866
9th, 1866–
Minnesota
Minnesota
Minnesota is a U.S. state located in the Midwestern United States. The twelfth largest state of the U.S., it is the twenty-first most populous, with 5.3 million residents. Minnesota was carved out of the eastern half of the Minnesota Territory and admitted to the Union as the thirty-second state...

1858 9th, 1863–1866
8th, 1866–
Oregon
Oregon
Oregon is a state in the Pacific Northwest region of the United States. It is located on the Pacific coast, with Washington to the north, California to the south, Nevada on the southeast and Idaho to the east. The Columbia and Snake rivers delineate much of Oregon's northern and eastern...

1859 10th, 1863–1866
9th, 1866–
Kansas
Kansas
Kansas is a US state located in the Midwestern United States. It is named after the Kansas River which flows through it, which in turn was named after the Kansa Native American tribe, which inhabited the area. The tribe's name is often said to mean "people of the wind" or "people of the south...

1861 9th, 1863–1866
8th, 1866–1929
10th, 1929–
West Virginia
West Virginia
West Virginia is a state in the Appalachian and Southeastern regions of the United States, bordered by Virginia to the southeast, Kentucky to the southwest, Ohio to the northwest, Pennsylvania to the northeast and Maryland to the east...

1863 4th, 1863–
Nevada
Nevada
Nevada is a state in the western, mountain west, and southwestern regions of the United States. With an area of and a population of about 2.7 million, it is the 7th-largest and 35th-most populous state. Over two-thirds of Nevada's people live in the Las Vegas metropolitan area, which contains its...

1864 9th, 1866–
Nebraska
Nebraska
Nebraska is a state on the Great Plains of the Midwestern United States. The state's capital is Lincoln and its largest city is Omaha, on the Missouri River....

1867 8th, 1867–
Colorado
Colorado
Colorado is a U.S. state that encompasses much of the Rocky Mountains as well as the northeastern portion of the Colorado Plateau and the western edge of the Great Plains...

1876 8th, 1876–1929
10th, 1929–
North Dakota
North Dakota
North Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States of America, along the Canadian border. The state is bordered by Canada to the north, Minnesota to the east, South Dakota to the south and Montana to the west. North Dakota is the 19th-largest state by area in the U.S....

1889 8th, 1889–
South Dakota
South Dakota
South Dakota is a state located in the Midwestern region of the United States. It is named after the Lakota and Dakota Sioux American Indian tribes. Once a part of Dakota Territory, South Dakota became a state on November 2, 1889. The state has an area of and an estimated population of just over...

1889 8th, 1889–
Montana
Montana
Montana is a state in the Western United States. The western third of Montana contains numerous mountain ranges. Smaller, "island ranges" are found in the central third of the state, for a total of 77 named ranges of the Rocky Mountains. This geographical fact is reflected in the state's name,...

1889 9th, 1889–
Washington 1889 9th, 1889–
Idaho
Idaho
Idaho is a state in the Rocky Mountain area of the United States. The state's largest city and capital is Boise. Residents are called "Idahoans". Idaho was admitted to the Union on July 3, 1890, as the 43rd state....

1890 9th, 1890–
Wyoming
Wyoming
Wyoming is a state in the mountain region of the Western United States. The western two thirds of the state is covered mostly with the mountain ranges and rangelands in the foothills of the Eastern Rocky Mountains, while the eastern third of the state is high elevation prairie known as the High...

1890 8th, 1890–1929
10th, 1929–
Utah
Utah
Utah is a state in the Western United States. It was the 45th state to join the Union, on January 4, 1896. Approximately 80% of Utah's 2,763,885 people live along the Wasatch Front, centering on Salt Lake City. This leaves vast expanses of the state nearly uninhabited, making the population the...

1896 8th, 1896–1929
10th, 1929–
Oklahoma
Oklahoma
Oklahoma is a state located in the South Central region of the United States of America. With an estimated 3,751,351 residents as of the 2010 census and a land area of 68,667 square miles , Oklahoma is the 28th most populous and 20th-largest state...

1907 8th, 1907–1929
10th, 1929–
New Mexico
New Mexico
New Mexico is a state located in the southwest and western regions of the United States. New Mexico is also usually considered one of the Mountain States. With a population density of 16 per square mile, New Mexico is the sixth-most sparsely inhabited U.S...

1912 8th, 1912–1929
10th, 1929–
Arizona
Arizona
Arizona ; is a state located in the southwestern region of the United States. It is also part of the western United States and the mountain west. The capital and largest city is Phoenix...

1912 9th, 1912–
District of Columbia 1948The pre-existing courts of the District of Columbia were elevated to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

 and court of appeals status in 1948. The courts of the District had been incorporated into the Federal Court System by the Judiciary Act of 1925
Judiciary Act of 1925
The Judiciary Act of 1925 , also known as the Certiorari Act, was an act of the United States Congress which sought to reduce the workload of the Supreme Court of the United States....

.
District of Columbia Circuit, 1948–
Alaska
Alaska
Alaska is the largest state in the United States by area. It is situated in the northwest extremity of the North American continent, with Canada to the east, the Arctic Ocean to the north, and the Pacific Ocean to the west and south, with Russia further west across the Bering Strait...

1959 9th, 1959–
Hawaii
Hawaii
Hawaii is the newest of the 50 U.S. states , and is the only U.S. state made up entirely of islands. It is the northernmost island group in Polynesia, occupying most of an archipelago in the central Pacific Ocean, southwest of the continental United States, southeast of Japan, and northeast of...

1959 9th, 1959–
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico
Puerto Rico , officially the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico , is an unincorporated territory of the United States, located in the northeastern Caribbean, east of the Dominican Republic and west of both the United States Virgin Islands and the British Virgin Islands.Puerto Rico comprises an...

1966The pre-existing territorial district court of Puerto Rico was elevated to United States district court
United States district court
The United States district courts are the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. There is a United States bankruptcy court associated with each United States...

 status. Appellate jurisdiction from the Puerto Rico courts was assigned to the 1st Circuit in 1915.
1st, 1966–
Guam
Guam
Guam is an organized, unincorporated territory of the United States located in the western Pacific Ocean. It is one of five U.S. territories with an established civilian government. Guam is listed as one of 16 Non-Self-Governing Territories by the Special Committee on Decolonization of the United...

Virgin Islands
Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

1898There were U.S. Federal Courts in the Philippines
Philippines
The Philippines , officially known as the Republic of the Philippines , is a country in Southeast Asia in the western Pacific Ocean. To its north across the Luzon Strait lies Taiwan. West across the South China Sea sits Vietnam...

 following the Spanish-American War
Spanish-American War
The Spanish–American War was a conflict in 1898 between Spain and the United States, effectively the result of American intervention in the ongoing Cuban War of Independence...

 of 1898 up through the granting of independence to the Philippines on July 4, 1946 - with the exception of the Philippine occupation by the Japanese Army in 1942 - 45.
Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

There were formerly U.S. Federal Courts in the Panama Canal Zone
Panama Canal Zone
The Panama Canal Zone was a unorganized U.S. territory located within the Republic of Panama, consisting of the Panama Canal and an area generally extending 5 miles on each side of the centerline, but excluding Panama City and Colón, which otherwise would have been partly within the limits of...

, until that Zone was returned to Panama
Panama
Panama , officially the Republic of Panama , is the southernmost country of Central America. Situated on the isthmus connecting North and South America, it is bordered by Costa Rica to the northwest, Colombia to the southeast, the Caribbean Sea to the north and the Pacific Ocean to the south. The...

 by treaty on December 31, 1999.

See also


External links