Appellate Jurisdiction

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  • A court's authority to review a lower court's opinion. Appellate jurisdiction is in contrast to “original jurisdiction,” in which only cases of first instance are heard. The Appellate Court has very few cases of original jurisdiction. At the federal level, the Supreme Court has original jurisdiction over cases involving disputes between states. And at the state level, appellate courts have original jurisdiction over cases involving lawyer disbarment. The federal court and most state courts have a three-layer structure in hearing cases. The “trials court” is the court of first instance, at the intermediate level is the “court of appeals,” and at the final level is the “supreme court.” In some states with a smaller population, there are no intermediate appellate courts.


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