USA Legis System

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The U.S. Legal System: A Short Description
Federal Judicial Center background The U.S. Constitution establishes a federal system of government. The constitution gives specific powers to the federal (national) government. All power not delegated to the federal government remains with the states. Each of the 50 states has its own state constitution, governmental structure, legal codes, and judiciary. The U.S. Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government and specifies the authority of the federal courts. Federal courts have exclusive jurisdiction only over certain types of cases, such as cases involving federal laws, controversies between states, and cases involving foreign governments. In certain other
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Many states also have an intermediate appellate court called a court of appeals that hears appeals from the trial court. A party in a case generally has one right of appeal. court administrat i on
The judicial branches of the federal and state governments are separate from the legislative and executive branches. To insure judicial independence, the judicial branches of the federal and state governments control the administration of the courts. Court administration includes managing court budgets, prescribing rules of trial and appellate procedure, reviewing judicial discipline matters, offering continuing educational programs for judges, and studying court performance. In the federal judiciary, the Judicial Conference of the United States, made up of 27 members (the Chief Justice of the United States and 26 judges from each geographic region of the United States) has overall administrative responsibility for the courts and has primary authority to make policy regarding the operation of the judicial branch of the government. The Judicial Conference is assisted by a large number of committees made up of federal judges (and sometimes also state court judges and attorneys) who study different parts of the federal court system and make recommendations. An important re-



the u.s. legal system: a short description

sponsibility of the Judicial Conference is to

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