2-1 - THE U.S. FEDERAL JUDICIAL SYSTEM
There are 89 districts in the 50 states, which are listed with their divisions in Title 28 of the U.S. Code, Sections 81-144. District courts also exist in Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, the District of Columbia, Guam, and the Northern Mariana Islands. In total there are 94 U.S. district courts. Some states, such as Alaska, are composed of a single judicial district. Others, such as California, are composed of multiple judicial districts. The number of judgeships allotted to each district is set forth in Title 28 of the U.S. Code, Section 133. For a list of U.S. district courts and their rules, on the Internet go to: http://www.uscourts.gov/rules/distr-localrules.html.
There are 13 judicial circuits, each with a court of appeals. The smallest court is the First Circuit with six judgeships, and the largest court is in the Ninth Circuit, with 28 judgeships. A list of the states that compose each circuit is set forth in Title 28 of the U.S. Code, Section 41. The number of judgeships in each circuit is set forth in Title 28 of the U.S. Code, Section 44. Court rules for each circuit court are available on the Internet at: http://www.uscourts.gov/RulesAndPolicies/FederalRulemaking/LocalCourtRules.aspx.
U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals
The U.S. Court of Appeals Federal Circuit and the District of Columbia bring the total number of circuit courts to 13. Additional information is available at the following Internet site: http://www.loc.gov/law/guide/usjudic.html.
The United States Supreme Court consists of the Chief Justice of the United States and eight associate justices. At its discretion, and within certain guidelines established by Congress, the Supreme Court each year hears a limited number of the cases it is asked to decide. Those cases may begin in the federal or state courts, and they usually involve important questions about the Constitution or federal law. For more information about the Supreme Court, visit http://www.supremecourtus.gov.