Federal judges oversee cases that are presented in federal courts. The federal court system consists of trial courts, appellate courts and the United States Supreme Court.
Federal judges hear cases that the United States brings against a person, company or other entity. Anyone who faces federal charges has his case heard in federal court in front of a federal judge. An appeal of a federal conviction is heard in a federal appellate court in front of a federal appellate judge. The Supreme Court, recognized as the supreme authority on law in the United States, hears cases that have been through the appellate court and appealed again.
There are 94 judicial districts in the United States. This doesn't include bankruptcy court, which is its own entity within each district. The districts are divided among 13 circuits or regions, and each circuit has an appellate court. The districts and circuits all have judges assigned to them.
Federal judges are recommended by members of Congress and then nominated by the president. The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts confirmation hearings, and those judges who are approved are confirmed for a lifetime judicial term. Bankruptcy judges are appointed for 14-year terms. Justices appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court go through the same confirmation process and are confirmed for lifetime appointments.