Appellate jurisdiction
Appellate jurisdiction is the power of the Supreme Court to review decisions and change outcomes of decisions of lower courts. Most appellate jurisdiction is legislatively created, and may consist of appeals by leave of the appellate court or by right. Depending on the type of case and the decision below, appellate review primarily consists of: an entirely new hearing (a non trial de novo); a hearing where the appellate court gives deference to factual findings of the lower court; or review of particular legal rulings made by the lower court (an appeal on the record).

Courts of the United States

Under Article Three of the United States Constitution
Article Three of the United States Constitution
Article Three of the United States Constitution establishes the judicial branch of the federal government. The judicial branch comprises the Supreme Court of the United States and lower courts as created by Congress.-Section 1: Federal courts:...

, the judicial power of the United States is vested in 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...

 and the inferior courts established by law. Federal Rules of Appellate Procedure

Standard of review

Under its standard of review, an appellate court decides the extent of the deference it would give to the lower court's decision, based on whether the appeal was one of fact or one of law.

In reviewing an issue of fact, an appellate court ordinarily gives deference to the trial court's findings. It is the duty of trial judges or juries
A jury is a sworn body of people convened to render an impartial verdict officially submitted to them by a court, or to set a penalty or judgment. Modern juries tend to be found in courts to ascertain the guilt, or lack thereof, in a crime. In Anglophone jurisdictions, the verdict may be guilty,...

 to find facts, view the evidence firsthand, and observe witness testimony. When reviewing lower decisions on an issue of fact, courts of appeal generally look for "clear error." The appellate court reviews issues of law de novo (anew, no deference) and may reverse or modify the lower court's decision if the appellate court believes the lower court misapplied the facts or the law. An appellate court may also review the lower judge's discretionary decisions, such as whether the judge properly granted a new trial or disallowed evidence. The lower court's decision is only changed in cases of an "abuse of discretion". This standard tends to be even more deferential than the "clear error" standard. Before hearing any case, the Court must have jursidiction to consider the appeal.

See also

  • 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:...

  • Court of last resort
  • Court of first instance
    Court of first instance
    A court of first instance is a trial court of original or primary jurisdiction.Specific courts called the Court of First Instance include:* European Court of First Instance, of the European Union* Court of First Instance...

  • Judicial review
    Judicial review
    Judicial review is the doctrine under which legislative and executive actions are subject to review by the judiciary. Specific courts with judicial review power must annul the acts of the state when it finds them incompatible with a higher authority...

  • Exclusive jurisdiction
    Exclusive jurisdiction
    In civil procedure, exclusive jurisdiction exists where one court has the power to adjudicate a case to the exclusion of all other courts. It is the opposite situation from concurrent jurisdiction, in which more than one court may take jurisdiction over the case.Exclusive jurisdiction is typically...


United States Constitution, Article III (1783).

The courts of appeals (other than 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...

) shall have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts of the United States, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam
District Court of Guam
The District Court of Guam is a United States territorial court with jurisdiction over the Territory of Guam. It sits in the capital, Hagåtña....

, and the District Court of the Virgin Islands
District Court of the Virgin Islands
The District Court of the United States Virgin Islands is a United States territorial court with jurisdiction over the United States Virgin Islands, a United States territory and more specifically an insular area that is an unincorporated organized territory. The court sits in both St. Croix and...

, except where a direct review may be had in the Supreme Court. The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit shall be limited to the jurisdiction described in sections 1292 (c) and (d) and 1295 of this title.

Mandatory appellate jurisdictions must hear all properly filed appeals.
Discretionary appellate jurisdictions may pick and choose which cases are to be reviewed.
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