In The Know: US Courts


In the United States, the district court is where most federal cases are initially tried and decided.

There are 94 district courts, including the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico and the territories of Guam, the US Virgin Islands and the Northern Mariana Islands.

Except in the case of the three territorial courts, the judge, who presides over the district court, is appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Nominees to the position may be recommended by senators or members of the House of Representatives belonging to the political party of the President.

The Senate Judiciary Committee conducts confirmation hearings before a judge is finally appointed for a life term.

While the Constitution does not set specific requirements, those who nominate and examine the nominations have developed informal criteria over time.

There are currently 677 district court judgeships in the United States.


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