The United States legal system developed from the English common law system. Some concepts from Spanish law, such as the prior appropriation doctrine and community property, still continue in some U.S. states, mainly those that were part of the Mexican Cession in 1848.
Under the doctrine of federalism, each state has its own separate court system, and the ability to legislate within areas not reserved to the federal government.
Federal Special Courts – There are a few special courts to adjudicate federal matters, which were established by congress. Admiralty courts are federal district courts that have jurisdiction over admiralty and maritime actions pursuant to federal statute (28 U.S.C.A. § 1333). Bankruptcy courts are federal courts that are concerned exclusively with the administration of bankruptcy proceedings; they were also created pursuant to federal statute (28 U.S.C.A. § 1334). The U.S. Tax Court tries and adjudicates controversies involving deficiencies or overpayments in income, estate, and gift taxes. U.S. magistrates try misdemeanor cases and conduct preliminary proceedings in civil and criminal proceedings.
Federal District Courts – Are considered the general trial courts of the United States federal court system. Both civil and criminal cases are filed in the district court, which is a court of law, equity, and admiralty. Each federal judicial district has at least one courthouse, and many districts have more than one.
Federal Courts of Appeal - The U.S. Courts of Appeals are intermediate federal appellate courts. Created in 1891 pursuant to Article III of the U.S. Constitution, the courts relieve the U.S. Supreme Court from the burden of handling all appeals from cases decided by federal trial (district) courts. These appellate courts have jurisdiction to review all final decisions and some Interlocutory decisions of federal district courts.
United States Supreme Courts - The Supreme Court of the United States is the highest federal court. It was formally established during the passage of the Judiciary Act of 1789 (1 Stat. 73) and was not organized until 1790. The Supreme Court has two functions: acting as the final interpreter of state and federal law and establishing