Sec. 13. Classification of courts. The courts of the United
States are created by the authority of the constitution, and their
jurisdiction is limited by the grant of power given to the federal
government by the states through the constitution. The constitu-
tion of the United States provides in Section 1, Article III, that
"The judicial power of the United States shall be vested in one Su-
preme Court and in such inferior courts as the Congress may from
time to time ordain and establish. The judges both of the Su-
preme and inferior courts shall hold their offices during good be-
havior, and shall, at stated times, receive for their services, a com-
pensation which shall not be diminished during their continuance
The Supreme Court of the United States, created by the consti-
tution, is the court of last resort to which cases, upon proper ques-
tion from the inferior courts, are appealed. The United States
circuit courts^^ ten fed-
eral jurisdictional ^ circuits. Three judges usually occupy the bench
oT^^^ntliese courts. AL present there are 48 circuit judges
These courts review cases appealed from the federal district courts.
The trial courts of the federal judicial system are called the United
States district courts^. Each state in the union contains one or
more federal districts, and each district has one federal district
court and one or more district judges. At the present time, there
are 84 federal districts and approximately 163_federal district
judges. The judges in all federal courts are appointed by the Pres-
ident of the United States, by and with the consent of the senate.
The state courts, although not subject to uniform classification,
for the sake of convenience may be grouped as follows: state su-
preme courts, or courts of higher appeal; courts of claim; inter-
mediate courts o7 appeal ; and trial courts^ "'rhe trial courts may
GeTurthef classified into circuit courts, municipal courtg, county
rcnuifor probate courts, and justice of the peace courts? Courts in
the latter classes are' said to be courts of orfginaTjurisdiction, and
may be further divided, depending upon the particular subject mat-
ter adjudicated. For example, the circuit courts in some states
may hear damage suits as a civil law court, criminal cases as a
criminal court, and equity cases as a court of equity. In other
states there may be separate and distinct courts which adjudicate
THE COURTS 11
probate cases, such as the administration of estates, the relation-
ship of guardians and wards, and so forth. The minor courts, such
as the justice of the peace courts, have jurisdiction over cases in-
volving small sums of money and minor violations of the law.
For an exact classification of the courts of any state, the laws of
the particular state involved should be consulted.
Sec. 14. The jurisdiction of courts. " Jurisdiction means the
power given to a court bv the constitution or the legislature to ad-
judicate concerning the subject and parties, to determine the cause,
to render a judgment, and to carry such judgment into effect/'
For example, "probate courts shall have the original jurisdiction of
all probate matters, namely, the settlement of estates of deceased
persons, the appointment of guardians and conservators, the settle-
ment of their accounts, the regulation of all matters relating to ap-
prentices and the supervision of the sale of real estate of deceased
persons for the payment of debts/'
Sec. 15. Jurisdiction over the subject matter. In order that a
court may act, it must have jurisdiction over the subject matter
coming before it. That is, the subject matter of the cause must
come within the limits of the court. For example, a probate court
would not have jurisdiction to determine questions of law involving
a civil suit for damages. Likewise a court has certain geographical
limits within which it must act. A circuit court in one county
would have no jurisdiction to determine title to the land lying
within the boundaries of another county. Likewise a court in one
state would have no jurisdiction to hear a case upon an actionable
cause arising in another state and canadian lawyers.
Courts are also limited in their jurisdiction as to the amount of
money involved in the suit. For example, a "justice of the peace
shall have jurisdiction in all actions on book accounts where the
amount of the balance owing to the plaintiff shall not exceed $200."
Sec. 16. Jurisdiction over the person. In order to render a
binding judgment, a court must have jurisdiction not only over the
subject matter, but also over the person of the defendant.
This jurisdiction is accomplished by a summons which issues out
of the court in which the case is to be tried, and is delivered to the
sheriff to be served upon the individual made defendant in the suit.
Every person sued is entitled to such notice, either by personal
service or by publication, in order that opportunity may be given
The summons must be served within the geographical limits of
the court, because the officers of one governmental unit have no au-
thority to serve a summons outside their particular county or state.
For example, a sheriff of a county in Illinois would have no author-
ity to serve a person in the state of Missouri. By statute in some
states, a summons issuing out of an equity court in one county can
be served by a sheriff of another county in the same state. In other
instances the summons can be served only by the sheriff of the
county in which the court sits and which is within its jurisdiction.
If a person comes into the state or county, as the case may be, and
is served with a summons by the sheriff, such person is then under
the authority and jurisdiction of the court. *
In case the defendant is a nonresident of the place where the suit
is brought, service may be had by publication, Tliis situation,
however, does not give the court authority to render a personal
judgment for damages. Accompanied by proper attachment pro-
ceedings, service by publication does bring under the court's juris-
diction all attached property of a nonresident which lies within the
territorial limits of the court, so that such attached property is lia-
ble for the judgment debt and may be used to satisfy the judgment.
Review Questions and Problems
1. Name and classify the various federal courts. By what authority
is the United States Supreme Court created? How does it differ from
the lower federal courts?
2. Name four state courts. What jurisdiction does the justice of the
peace court have?
3. Over what must the courts have jurisdiction in order to render a
judgment? Has one court any jurisdiction over a matter arising in an-
other county? May a court render a judgment against a person who is
not found in the county?