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What is an appellate jurisdiction?

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Quick Answer

Appellate jurisdiction refers to a higher court's power to review, revise, overturn or affirm decisions made by lower courts, according to USLegal. Most of the time, appellate courts simply review cases to ensure no errors were made. The appellate process begins when one of the parties in a case files an appeal and states the grounds for the appeal.

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Full Answer

An appellant, or the party that files for an appeal, tries to convince an appellate jurisdiction that a lower court erred in applying a law or failed to follow judicial procedures during trial. USLegal explains that the opponent in an appeals case is an appellee. An appeals court does not have to take up a case if cause is not found.

Cornell University's Legal Information Institute states that the Supreme Court is the highest appellate court in the United States. The Supreme Court oversees appellate jurisdiction from federal circuit courts, and circuit courts hear appeals from district courts. As of October 2014, 12 regional circuit courts of appeal oversee 94 district courts on the federal level. An appeals court hears appeals from a district court within its particular circuit. An appeals court has jurisdiction over federal administrative agencies, specialized cases and cases arising from patent law.

The Federal Judicial Center explains the U.S. Constitution gives Congress authority to create lower courts beneath the Supreme Court. Congress dictates how many appellate courts exist. From that late 1990s to 2012, approximately 25 to 33 percent of all federal appeals involve criminal cases.

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