Talk:United States courts of appeals

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Hello. This is my first substantial Wikipedia edit, and my first table in Wikipedia. As I'm still getting my legs, I'd appreciate it if you let me know the reasons for any edits you feel appropriate to that subsection. Thanks. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Ecohansen (talkcontribs) 09:12, 4 February 2009 (UTC)


Per the discussion at Talk:United States district court, this article should be renamed "United States court of appeals" since it deals with the class of courts of appeals rather than a unique Court of Appeals.

DLJessup (talk) 22:38, 26 September 2005 (UTC)

I'm reading a case right now where the U.S. Supreme Court does exactly that - uses caps when identifying specific courts "The District Court denied the petitioner's motion to dismiss"; "We granted certiorari to resolve a disagreement among the Courts of Appeals" - but later in the same opinion, notes that the statute "provides for appeal to the courts of appeals" and that "we have declined to hold the collateral order doctrine applicable where a district court has denied a claim, not that the defendant has a right not to be sued at all, but that the suit against the defendant is not properly before the particular court because it lacks jurisdiction." -- BD2412 talk 04:40, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I will accept the consensus view on this. (Who the heck moved this article away from United States court of appeals in the first place?  :-) ) DLJessup, you may have to post your request on WP:RM; I think this move can only be accomplished by an admin, because the target title has some past edit history. --Russ Blau (talk) 13:14, 27 September 2005 (UTC)
I've posted the request on WP:RM. — DLJessup (talk) 02:10, 28 September 2005 (UTC)
If the article is meant to deal with all of the U.S. federal appeals courts, shouldn't it be at United States courts of appeals? --Quintusdecimus 21:15, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
No. In general, encyclopedia titles should be in the singular. For example, even though continent deals with all of the continents or ocean deals with all of the oceans, the article titles are in the singular, because they deal with the class of continents or the class of oceans. U.S. state deals with all fifty states. Et cetera, ad infinitum. DLJessup (talk) 21:59, 14 October 2005 (UTC)
Your objection is overruled.. (talk) 18:33, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
Furthermore, the capitalization and phrasing of the title of this article are strange. Much more sensible would be one of the following:
A. United States Courts of Appeal
B. United States District Courts of Appeal
C. United States Federal Courts of Appeals
D. U.S. Federal District Courts of Appeals
E. Federal District Courts of Appeal in the United States
or something to this effect, with the capital letters.
I, for one, believe that in all cases, the words in the titles of articles in the Wikipedia should be capitalized just as they are in magazine articles, books, and so forth. For example, the Wikipedia article on the novel and the movie, "2001: A Space Odyssey", should be just as I typed it, and "In the Heat of the Night", is typed as it should be, and the title of a hypothetical Wikipedia article would be "How to Make a Million Bucks".
Furthermore, I think that the word "Federal" probably belongs there, because a state appeals court in Ohio, for example, is a United States court of appeals - in other words, a court of appeals that is located in the United States and is legally a court there, but not a Federal Court. (talk) 18:24, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
No, none of the titles you have listed above would be preferable, for the simple reasons that these courts have a name, and that name is the "United States Court of Appeals" -- not the "Court of Appeal," not the "District Court of Appeal", not the "Federal Court of Appeals", or any of the other alternatives you have listed. Would you say that the article about Ernest Hemingway should be entitled "Earnest Hemingway" or "Ernest Hamingway" or "Ernest Quentin Hemingway" because you like one of those varieties better? --R'n'B (call me Russ) 18:56, 8 November 2009 (UTC)


Moved as requested. "United States courts of appeal".... LOL! Ryan Norton T | @ | C 07:50, 15 October 2005 (UTC)


Hi, I was wondering whether someone knows how appointments work. The president nominates a judge and then the judge is confirmed (or not) in the Senate, in the normal case. In the unusual case of course, the judge receives a recess appointment and is later nominated and possibly confirmed. My question is - when are judges allowed to then sit on panels and decide cases? If you look at bios on (go to biographies of judges since 1789) and then enter in a judge's last name. My example judges are Godbold and Gewin for the two kinds of appointments. Here are the relevant excerpts from their bios:

Godbold: Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Nominated by Lyndon B. Johnson on June 28, 1966, to a seat vacated by Richard Taylor Rives; Confirmed by the Senate on July 22, 1966, and received commission on July 22, 1966. Served as chief judge, 1981-1981. Service terminated on October 1, 1981, due to assignment to another court. Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit Reassigned October 1, 1981; Served as chief judge, 1981-1986. Assumed senior status on October 23, 1987.

Gewin: Judge, U. S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit Received a recess appointment from John F. Kennedy on October 5, 1961, to a new seat created by 75 Stat. 80; nominated on January 15, 1962; Confirmed by the Senate on February 5, 1962, and received commission on February 9, 1962. Assumed senior status on November 1, 1976. Service terminated on May 15, 1981, due to death.

My feeling is that for Godbold who went through the process normally, he gets to sit on panels after he receives "commission," which I'm assuming just means he's now given the power to decide cases. For Gewin, I believe he gets to decide cases after he receives the recess appointment. I know this is true because I looked on Lexis-Nexis's legal research section and found cases on whose panels Gewin was sitting after October 5, 1961 and before January 15, 1962. Obviously it wouldn't make any sense for Gewin not to be able to decide cases before he gets confirmed (otherwise, what is the point of recess appointments!). So I guess the remaining question is: For the normal appointment process, is the relevant "start date" the date of receiving commission?

Thanks for any help.

Borntostorm 19:04, 10 January 2007 (UTC)

Regarding the article Court of Appeals[edit]

Please see my move proposal at Talk:Court of Appeals#Rename this article?. --Mathew5000 19:37, 9 September 2007 (UTC)

Capitalization move[edit]

It was objected that:

The capitalization of this article (and also United States district court has been discussed in the past. I originally was in favor of capitalization, but I was convinced by the arguments of others that although an individual court is the "United States Court of Appeals for the Nth Circuit", the generic name of the courts is the "United States courts of appeals." Among other things, note that this is how the term is written in the United States Code. I do think you should have reviewed the discussion on the Talk page before moving, and I would encourage you to revert the move and re-open the discussion if you still think a move is appropriate. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 10:23, 14 May 2009 (UTC)

The motivation for my move was the plural, so you can revert the capitalization if that is correct. However, it would seem that the previous discussion may have been defective if they got the plural wrong. —Centrxtalk • 16:52, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Indeed, the U.S. Code seems to uniformly use "United States Courts of Appeals", but "courts of appeals" when without "United States". —Centrxtalk • 16:59, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
Thanks for your reply. AFAICT, the Code uses "United States Court of Appeals" only in the singular, and only when it is referring to a particular court by name, except 28 USC 43, which establishes the names of the courts generally (and note 28 USC 48(d) which, apparently by mistake, refers to the "Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit" without the prefix "United States" as used in every other statutory reference to this court). --R'n'B (call me Russ) 17:50, 14 May 2009 (UTC)
You can find 27 instances of "United States Courts of Appeals" across 11 chapters of the U.S. Code, by searching for ["United States Courts of Appeals"] at • 15:31, 15 May 2009 (UTC)
How anyone or any group does the capitalization of the phrase in ordinary text elsewhere is a completely irrelevant issue!! Really.
What we are dealing with is the title of an article in a publication, and in these titles, all of the important words are always capitalized. In other words, don't capitalize prepositions, articles, conjunctions, and a few other types of words, but do capitalize all of the nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and a few other types, as well as the first word, and the word that follows a colon. Don't be distracted by computerese nonsense. We're people, not computers, and people should rule this planet and the English language, not computers. Show some backbone! Here are some examples of hypothetical Wikipedia articles.
How to Get Rich by Being Fat and Lazy (A Great Wikipedia article!!)
Cruel and Unusual Punishment and the U.S. Constitution
Live and Let Die
First on the Moon
A Bridge over Troubled Waters
Then, if anyone wants to create a link that is in lower-case letters, that person can type [First on the Moon|first on the moon] or to show you what it really looks like: first on the moon. (talk) 18:58, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
If you don't like the capitalization style used on Wikipedia, take it up at Wikipedia talk:Manual of Style. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 20:09, 8 November 2009 (UTC)
I was taught by my parents decades ago, that if everyone else wanted to cut his throat, then that is no reason to go cut mine, too. In other words, if some group at the Wikipedia has made a foolish decision that is contrary to all good traditions in English writing (e.g. for books, magazines, newspapers, short stories,...), there is no reason to follow foolish decisions. (talk) 02:38, 24 November 2009 (UTC)
Sentence-style capitalization for headlines is a standard tradition in English writing, most common in section headers. —Centrxtalk • 07:47, 25 November 2009 (UTC)

Merge proposal[edit]

I just discovered United States federal judicial circuits, which covers a little bit of historic material but omits most of the current info from this page; it seems to be talking about the same entities, though (and shares the same map image). So it seems like they should be merged... unfortunately I don't have near enough time to commit to this, sorry. /blahedo (t) 05:15, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

  • I agree with the merger, except that I think the long list of origin dates should be summarized here and kept separate as a "list of" page. bd2412 T 11:24, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
  • Somebody should just make it happen. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 19:22, 20 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I disagree with the merger because it is ovbiously better to keep it seperate because it hasn't been merged yet. Tard. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 23:26, 13 October 2010 (UTC)


How does the Court of Appeals determine which cases to review? Does the judge appeal, the defense, the prosecution, any of the above? Or does the Court of Appeals determine for itself what to review? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 05:20, 28 May 2009 (UTC)

  • Appeals are, for the most part, as of right - which is to say, that either party (defendant or plaintiff/prosecution depending on whether it is civil or criminal) who is dissatisfied with the outcome in the trial court can appeal. The Courts of Appeals have no power to refuse to hear an appeal - but they sure can put out a terse opinion where they don't care for the appeal taken. bd2412 T 11:27, 29 May 2009 (UTC)
No, this is foolish. At any stage in the trial process in any Federal, state, or local criminal case in the United States, if any verdict goes in favor of the defendant, the prosecutor absolutely cannot appeal that verdict in any way. Such would violate the "no double jeopardy" provision in the U.S. Constitution, which also applies to any state or local court. Once a defendant has been found "not guilty" of a crime, he/she can even openly confess to it, but nothing can be done.
Furthermore, for an example, once someone has been tried and acquitted of murder, the district attorney there has also been ruled to be unable to, later on, retry the same defendant for some other crime such as manslaughter, assault and battery, etc., for the same incident, because that as been ruled to be double jeopardy, too. However, at the end of the first trial, in most cases and in most jurisdictions, the jury is entitled to rule an acquittal on first-degree murder, but to rule a conviction on something like second-degree murder, manslaughter, depraved indifference to human life, etc.
The barriers against appealing every ruling given on the original trial level do exist, and they are basically financial. Suppose it is a civil case. In order to appeal, then the loser has to pay for the following in order to make an appeal to a higher court:
The cost of having a transcript typed-up of the original trial, and several copies made. For almost any trial at all, this costs hundreds of dollars, and for a lengthy trial, it will cost thousands of dollars, or even $10,000+.
A hefty filing fee, hundreds of dollars, that the District Court of Appeals imposes for all of its paperwork problems.
Thousands or tens of thousands of dollars in payments to the losers attorney or attorneys for they time that they spend in preparing the paperwork for the appeal - documents giving the grounds and reasoning for the appeal - and also the actual time that they have to expend in traveling to and from the District Court of Appeals and the actual time that they expend in presenting their case, and/or just waiting around for their turn to talk to the judges.
So, don't let anyone fool you: filing and carrying out an appeal is a dreadfully expensive and time-consuming affair. Sometimes, it is best left to millionaires and billionaires, including large corporations. (talk) 19:26, 8 November 2009 (UTC)

Map Needs Improvement[edit]

The map needs improvement. The Sixth Circuit should be a different color than the Eleventh Circuit so that we can tell them apart. The States of Alabama, Florida, and Georgia are in the Eleventh Circuit, and the States of Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee are in the Sixth Circuit, but that division is not clear from the map, because both circuits are the same color.John Paul Parks (talk) 14:18, 11 May 2011 (UTC)

Not on my monitor; they are very different colors. However, you are welcome to upload an improved map if you think it would be helpful to readers. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 14:31, 11 May 2011 (UTC)


I added a mention of an interested Facebook page where we can discuss the SCOTUS, how the decide cases, etc. It's pretty interesting. A Facebook friend of mine started it and it has a lot of interesting interviews with the Justices and such. ~~ iMatti ~~ (talk) 07:19, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Wikipedia is not a place for you to promote your friend's web page, and that page is certainly not a reliable source for any information about the federal judiciary. Please stop spamming Wikipedia. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 07:41, 23 October 2012 (UTC)

Inclusion of United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces[edit]

Why is the United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces not included as part of this article? It is one of the circuit of the United States Court of Appeals correct? The website for the USCOA for the Armed Forces is actually hosted on the U.S. Courts .gov domain (see here) and not the U.S. Military's .mil TLD. So unless I missed something here I think it should be part of the article. TheGoofyGolfer (talk) 23:02, 6 December 2012 (UTC)

The USCAAF is an Article I court, while the "circuit" courts of appeal are Article III courts, which is why the former is not included in this article. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 00:47, 7 December 2012 (UTC)

Referring to US courts of appeals as "circuit courts" is incorrect and confusing[edit]

This article begins:

"The United States courts of appeals (or circuit courts) are the intermediate appellate courts of the United States federal court system."

The use in this article of the phrase "or circuit courts" is unfortunate. The article was probably written by a lawyer, and many lawyers informally among themselves do refer to the United States courts of appeals, when speaking generally, as "circuit courts," or in the case of a specific one of these courts as the "nth circuit" or even the "nth circuit court."

But "circuit court" is not an acceptable alternative name for these courts, speaking generally, nor is "nth circuit" or "nth circuit court" an acceptable alternative name for that specific court of appeals. They are merely shorthand references used among themselves by people who know exactly what the proper names actually are and, therefore, are quite certain there will be no confusion as to what court is being referred to.

A layperson should not be told that "circuit court" is an alternative name. Further, in an encyclopedia article, even using the shorthand "circuit court" to refer back to the perfectly correctly stated name earlier in the article is dangerous because it will encourage lay readers to use the term "circuit court" as a generally acceptable substitute for the correct name, which it isn't.

Aside from its being disrespectful or demeaning to refer to an appellate court as a "circuit" court, it can also be confusing to laypersons because many US states have trial courts named "circuit courts."

Although this article laudably does again and again use the word "appeals" (in context with other words) when referring to these United States courts of appeals, I believe, nevertheless, that, in the several places in the article where it is used, a reference to "circuit court" should be replaced with "court of appeals" or "appeals court" or "the lower court" or any other way of saying it that does not encourage laypersons to refer to these courts using the word "circuit" unaccompanied by some appropriate version of the word "appeal." Even better would probably be not using the word "circuit" at all, except in a phrase such as "...for the Ninth Circuit."

Under "Procedure," for example, is the phrase: "Except in the Ninth Circuit Courts.... That is dangerous. Better would be "Except in the appeals courts for the Ninth Circuit..." or some other rewording. Wikifan2744 (talk) 03:28, 1 April 2014 (UTC)

This appears to be your opinion. Do you have a source? While you criticize this as "lawyer-speak", your hyper-technical complaint suggests that you are a lawyer and are approaching this in a manner similar to an exercise in bluebook citations. II | (t - c) 15:39, 1 April 2014 (UTC)
My opinion as a somewhat experienced layperson is the same as Wikifan's: the use of circuit is confusing. (talk) 18:35, 30 June 2015 (UTC)

Meaning of "circuit justice"[edit]


In United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, it seems that Elena Kagan is the "circuit justice". That's quite confusing to me because she is also on SCOTUS. Maybe it would be good to explain somewhere what a "circuit justice" is. (I really don't know, and I would like to learn).

Tony (talk)

See Supreme Court of the United States#Justices as Circuit Justices. --R'n'B (call me Russ) 01:19, 7 November 2014 (UTC)

Federal Circuit and 100% of the population[edit]

This line in the section about population per circuit is misleading:

  • Federal Circuit 12 318,952,000 100 26,579,333

All of the other circuits have jurisdiction over specific geographical areas. The Federal Circuit does not because it's jurisdiction is limited to particular types of cases, not geography. It may technically be correct that the Federal Circuit has jurisdiction for everybody in the US, and that the entire population of the US divided by the number of judges is 26 million. However, these statistics don't say anything useful. (In fact, it would be much more correct to list the United States Supreme Court on this line, even though the USSC is not a Court of Appeal.) I suggest replacing the population, percent, and population per judge in that table with a dash ('-') instead of a number, and perhaps some explanation directly below. Techielaw (talk) 07:46, 18 November 2015 (UTC)

Proposal to Split the 9th Circuit[edit]

There is currently a proposal to split the 9th Circuit into 2, adding a 12th circuit. The bill is linked here ( do you think this should be included or is it better placed somewhere else, or perhaps it should not be mentioned till the bill moves further along the legislative process.Javerthugo (talk) 00:30, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

This isn't the first such proposal. If it actually comes to a vote in the House, that would be the time to include it here. bd2412 T 02:01, 26 June 2017 (UTC)

"Patent Trial and Appeal Board"[edit]

The "Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences" was replaced with the "Patent Trial and Appeal Board". The Section on Circuit Composition (for appeals to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit) still mentions the former.

  •  Done, thanks. bd2412 T 22:46, 29 October 2017 (UTC)