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appellate court is called the supreme court. In Kentucky, Maryland and New York, it is called the court of appeals.
Superior courts are courts of intermediate jurisdiction between the lower and the supreme courts.
28. Justice-of-the-peace, probate, admiralty and circuit courts.—Justice-of-the-peace courts are inferior courts of very limited jurisdiction. They must proceed strictly according to statutory provisions or their acts are void.
Probate courts are those created for the administration of the estates of deceased persons. They are sometimes called the surrogate's court, the orphans' court, etc.
Admiralty courts administer what is known as the law of the sea. Their function is to settle disputes which concern vessels, cargoes and crews upon navigable waters. In this country there is no separate court, but the United States district courts possess admiralty jurisdiction; state courts do not. In admiralty causes the judge exercises the functions of both court and jury. In other words, he decides both questions of law and questions of fact.
State circuit courts are trial courts of general jurisdiction. The territorial jurisdiction of each usually includes several counties.
29. Provisional courts and courts-martial.—Provisional courts are tribunals which are established temporarily in conquered countries by military authority. They are courts of record, and are vested with all necessary power for the proper administration of justice under the constitution and laws of the victorious nation. Thus, the President of the United States, during the Civil War, was authorized under the Constitution to establish provisional courts over insurgent territory which had passed into the control of the federal troops.
Courts-martial are tribunals which are organized for the trial of soldiers or sailors charged with the commission of military or naval offenses. They are temporary tribunals of special jurisdiction, created for special purposes and dissolved when the objects of their creation are accomplished. Strictly speaking they do not constitute a part of the federal judicial system within the meaning of the United States Constitution and hence are not included in the judicial department of the government. Congress, however, has implied power to enact laws for the administration of military and naval justice through this agency of these military tribunals recognized by all civilized nations.
30. United States courts.—The United States courts comprise the judicial tribunals organized under the authority of the Constitution and the federal statutes. Their judges are not elected by the people, but appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate. The following classes are included:
(1) Supreme Court.
of the territories.
In addition to the foregoing classes may be mentioned the Court of Private Land Claims, the United States Senate and what are sometimes called commissioners' courts.
31. United States Supreme Court.—The Supreme Court of the United States is the only court expressly provided for by the United States Constitution. It was organized by the Judiciary Act of 1789. At present it consists of nine justices. It has original jurisdiction in all actions affecting ambassadors, other public ministers and consuls, and also in those cases where a state is a party. Its jurisdiction, however, is appellate, in the exercise of which cases are brought before it both from the lower federal courts and from the highest state tribunals.
32. Circuit courts of appeals.—The judicial districts of the United States are grouped into nine judicial circuits, each of which has a circuit court of appeals in addition to a circuit court. The circuit courts of appeals were created by Congress in 1891. They are courts of record, of appellate jurisdiction only. Each constitutes the intermediate appellate court in a circuit between the district courts and the Supreme Court. Each consists of three judges, one of whom is also a justice of the Supreme Court. District judges, however, within a circuit, are competent to sit as judges of the circuit court of appeals of that circuit, except that no judge who has heard or tried a cause in a district or circuit court is qualified to sit on the hearing of the same case in the circuit court of appeals.
33. Interstate Commerce Commission.—In 1887 Congress passed the Interstate Commerce Act creating a commission of five members (now seven) to control interstate carriers. The powers of this commission have been augmented from time to time, until at present it has the most extensive functions and the most onerous duties of any tribunal in the country. Its control extends not only over financial matters involved in rate making, but over the operating activities of interstate carriers.
The commission, under the provisions of the original act and the amendments thereto, has the following powers:
1. To check discriminations in favor of persons, places and commodities by sentence of fine and imprisonment, imposed not only on the carriers but on the favored shippers.
2. To declare unjust and unreasonable rates unlawful.
3. To require the publication of rates and to prevent the change thereof unless public notice be given and the commission consent. In making the change the carrier must bear the burden of justifying it and the commission is given power to suspend the new rate for ten months if necessary until a full hearing can be held.
4. To establish and enforce uniform accounting systems.
5. To prevent discriminations between long hauls and short hauls, except with the permission of the commission.
6. To prevent pooling contracts.
7. To prevent moving in interstate commerce any goods other than timber and its manufactured products, produced directly or by the authority of the carrier.
8. To secure an injunction restraining carriers believed to be violating the law.
34. District courts.—The United States is also divided into judicial districts, and in each of them there is a district court. The district courts are courts of original jurisdiction, the scope of which is expressly stated in the federal statutes. They are given authority to try both civil and criminal cases. The judges of these courts are required to reside in the particular districts respectively to which they are appointed. Ordinarily, there is one judge for each district.
35. Commerce Court.— The Commerce Court was established by Congress in 1909 to have the jurisdiction previously possessed by circuit courts over all cases for the enforcement of the orders of the Interstate Commerce Commission. It had jurisdiction to enjoin, set aside, annul or suspend any order of the commission, and it may entertain mandamus proceedings that were previously authorized to be maintained in the circuit court. The court was abolished in 1913 by an amendment to the Interstate Commerce Act.
36. Court of Claims.—The Court of Claims had its origin in 1855. It was created for the triple purpose of (1) relieving Congress, (2) protecting the government by regular investigation and (3) benefiting the claimants by affording them a certain mode of examining and adjudicating upon their claims. Originally, its jurisdiction was very limited. In effect, it was merely an auditing board whose duty it was to consider claims and report to the secretary of the treasury. Its authority, however, has been greatly increased, and at present it has full judicial powers in a large variety of cases.
It has jurisdiction of all claims based upon any federal statute, regulation of the executive department, or on any express or implied contract made with the United States government. It also has jurisdiction of all claims referred to it by either house of Congress.