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There are several types of federal judges in the United States, each with different responsibilities and jurisdiction. Here’s an overview of the main types of federal judges and their roles:
U.S. Supreme Court Justices
The U.S. Supreme Court is the highest court in the country and consists of nine justices, including one Chief Justice and eight Associate Justices. Supreme Court Justices are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Their primary responsibilities include:
- Hearing and deciding cases on appeal from lower federal courts and state supreme courts involving federal law or the U.S. Constitution.
- Interpreting and applying the U.S. Constitution, federal statutes, and treaties.
- Deciding whether laws passed by Congress or actions taken by the President are constitutional.
U.S. Court of Appeals Judges
The U.S. Courts of Appeals consist of 13 circuits, each with multiple judges who hear cases as a panel (usually three judges per panel). Appellate judges are also nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Their main responsibilities include:
- Reviewing decisions made by U.S. District Courts within their circuit.
- Hearing appeals from decisions of federal administrative agencies.
- Interpreting and applying federal laws and the U.S. Constitution in appellate cases.
U.S. District Court Judges
U.S. District Courts are the trial-level courts in the federal system, with at least one district court in each state, the District of Columbia, and Puerto Rico. District court judges are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. Their primary responsibilities include:
- Presiding over civil and criminal trials involving federal law or the U.S. Constitution.
- Making determinations on motions and legal issues that arise during trials.
- Instructing juries and rendering verdicts in bench trials (trials without a jury).
- Imposing sentences in criminal cases.
U.S. Magistrate Judges
Magistrate judges are appointed by U.S. District Court judges and serve for a term of eight years. They assist district court judges in managing cases and have the following responsibilities:
- Conducting initial proceedings in criminal cases, such as arraignments, bail hearings, and detention hearings.
- Issuing search warrants and arrest warrants.
- Presiding over pretrial matters and discovery disputes in civil cases.
- In some cases, presiding over civil trials and misdemeanor criminal trials with the consent of the parties.