Original Jurisdiction and Appellate Jurisdiction Made Simple

Jurisdiction is basically the word that describes the power to do something legally by an authority. But to get a clear picture, it is important to split the word. What we get out of it is juris and diction in Latin. While the first one means law, diction means speaking. From this, we get "law speaks".

It would be easier to just convert it into "authority to take action legally". Now think about courts.They hear cases and give verdicts. Thus, they are related to jurisdiction. Under it, we have:

Courts of original jurisdiction

It basically decides which court will hear the case first. Generally, its other name is trial court. It is possible to bring both civil and criminal cases to it. Evidence and testimony of witnesses are mainly used here to facilitate verdicts. Federal court titles them as district courts. On the other hand, in the state court system, they are termed as courts of common pleas or county courts.

U.S. Supreme Court can also be court of original jurisdiction to hear cases of this specific kind:

  • State versus person
  • State versus state or its resident
  • US government versus citizen(s)
  • American citizen versus foreign government

Courts of appellate jurisdiction

These are also known as appellate courts. No trial is used here. The work of the appellate court is to look into cases which already have been brought to trial courts.

In general, the judge  goes over the transcripts of the above court to see if the verdict given had error. In short, if a party is not happy with the judgement of the trial court he has the option to allow the appellate court to review it with the hope that the verdict will be on his side.

However, he will not get the feature of the previous trial checked here in the form of questions of facts. The judge of appellate court can actually only check whether the verdict of the trial court was based on the correct application of the passed laws. Thus, it is said that they deal with questions of law. What this should hint is that the appellate courts have the right to overrule any wrong verdicts given by the trial courts and this pretty much has affects the questions of fact.

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