What are the United States District Courts?

(Last updated January 8, 2006)

What are the United States district courts?

“The United States district courts are the trial courts of the federal court system. (They are NOT part of your state’s court system)

Within limits set by Congress and the Constitution, the district courts have jurisdiction to hear nearly all categories of federal cases, including both civil and criminal matters.

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 North Carolina, are composed of multiple judicial districts.


What are Federal Courts’ current policies for jury duty service?

Each judicial district must have a formal written plan for the selection of jurors, which provides for random selection from a fair cross-section of the community in the district, and which prohibits discrimination in the selection process.  

By law, a copy of a district's Jury Plan (A.K.A. “Juror Selection Plan”) must be available for review in the clerk's office.


Can a prospective juror be excused?

Many courts offer excuses from service, on individual request, to designated groups of persons or occupational classes.”

(Source: http://www.uscourts.gov/districtcourts.html, April 2003)


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