Court Of Appeals Decisions

The Courts of Appeals have been established pursuant to the United States Constitution, which authorizes Congress to establish courts inferior to the Supreme Court.  In accordance with such authority, Congress has enacted statutes establishing and organizing the courts of appeals[i] as well as statutes defining the jurisdiction of such courts[ii].

As provided by statute, the Courts of Appeals, other than the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, will have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the District Courts of the United States.  The Courts of Appeals also have jurisdiction over appeals of various interlocutory decisions.

The jurisdiction of the United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit is limited to the jurisdiction described by statute. Pursuant to 28 USCS § 1295, The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit shall have exclusive jurisdiction:

  • of an appeal from a final decision of a district court of the United States, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam, the District Court of the Virgin Islands, or the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, if the jurisdiction of that court was based, in whole or in part, on section 1338 of this title [28 USCS § 1338], except that a case involving a claim arising under any Act of Congress relating to copyrights, exclusive rights in mask works, or trademarks and no other claims under section 1338(a) [28 USCS § 1338(a)] shall be governed by sections 1291, 1292, and 1294 of this title [28 USCS §§ 1291, 1292, and 1294];
  • of an appeal from a final decision of a district court of the United States, the United States District Court for the District of the Canal Zone, the District Court of Guam, the District Court of the Virgin Islands, or the District Court for the Northern Mariana Islands, if the jurisdiction of that court was based, in whole or in part, on section 1346 of this title [28 USCS § 1346], except that jurisdiction of an appeal in a case brought in a district court under section 1346(a)(1), 1346(b), 1346(e), or 1346(f) of this title [28 USCS § 1346(a)(1), 1346(b), 1346(e), or 1346(f)] or under section 1346(a)(2) [28 USCS § 1346(a)(2)] when the claim is founded upon an Act of Congress or a regulation of an executive department providing for internal revenue shall be governed by sections 1291, 1292, and 1294 of this title [28 USCS §§ 1291, 1292, and 1294];
  • of an appeal from a final decision of the United States Claims Court [United States Court of Federal Claims;
  • o f an appeal from a decision of the Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences of the United States Patent and Trademark Office with respect to patent applications and interferences, at the instance of an applicant for a patent or any party to a patent interference, and any such appeal shall waive the right of such applicant or party to proceed under section 145 or 146 of title 35;
  • of an appeal from the Under Secretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and Director of the United States Patent and Trademark Office or the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board with respect to applications for registration of marks and other proceedings as provided in section 21 of the Trademark Act of 1946 (15 U.S.C. 1071); or
  • of an appeal from a district court to which a case was directed pursuant to section 145, 146, or 154(b) of title 35;
  • of an appeal from a final decision of the United States Court of International Trade;
  • to review the final determinations of the United States International Trade Commission relating to unfair practices in import trade, made under section 337 of the Tariff Act of 1930 (19 U.S.C. 1337);
  • to review, by appeal on questions of law only, findings of the Secretary of Commerce under U.S. note 6 to subchapter X of chapter 98 of the Harmonized Tariff Schedule of the United States (relating to importation of instruments or apparatus);
  • of an appeal under section 71 of the Plant Variety Protection Act (7 U.S.C. 2461);
  • of an appeal from a final order or final decision of the Merit Systems Protection Board, pursuant to sections 7703(b)(1) and 7703(d) of title 5;
  • of an appeal from a final decision of an agency board of contract appeals pursuant to section 8(g)(1) of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (41 U.S.C. 607(g)(1));
  • of an appeal under section 211 of the Economic Stabilization Act of 1970 [former 12 USCS § 1904 note];
  • of an appeal under section 5 of the Emergency Petroleum Allocation Act of 1973;
  • of an appeal under section 506(c) of the Natural Gas Policy Act of 1978 [15 USCS § 3416(c)]; and
  • of an appeal under section 523 of the Energy Policy and Conservation Act [42 USCS § 6393].

The head of any executive department or agency may, with the approval of the Attorney General, refer to the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit for judicial review any final decision rendered by a board of contract appeals pursuant to the terms of any contract with the United States awarded by that department or agency which the head of such department or agency has concluded is not entitled to finality pursuant to the review standards specified in section 10(b) of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 (41 U.S.C. 609(b)).  The head of each executive department or agency shall make any referral under this section within one hundred and twenty days after the receipt of a copy of the final appeal decision.

The Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit shall review the matter referred in accordance with the standards specified in section 10(b) of the Contract Disputes Act of 1978 [41 USCS § 609(b)].  The court shall proceed with judicial review on the administrative record made before the board of contract appeals on matters so referred as in other cases pending in such court, shall determine the issue of finality of the appeal decision, and shall, if appropriate, render judgment thereon, or remand the matter to any administrative or executive body or official with such direction as it may deem proper and just.

However, the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit, rather than the appropriate regional court of appeals, has exclusive jurisdiction over an appeal from a district court decision when a party asserts an action which has claims arising under both the federal circuit’s jurisdiction and the regional court of appeals’ jurisdiction.  Such an appeal of a claim arising in the regional court of appeals must be heard in the federal circuit when they are joined with claims that fall within the federal circuit’s exclusive jurisdiction.

As provided by statute, appeals from reviewable decisions of the District and Territorial Courts are taken to the specified assigned Courts of Appeals.  If a case involves different district courts located in different circuits, an order is to be appealed to the court of appeals of the circuit encompassing the district of the court which has entered the order to be reviewed.  Moreover, appeals from Territorial Courts are to be taken in the same manner and under the same regulations as from federal courts. The Courts of Appeals have jurisdiction of appeals from all final decisions of the district courts and specified Territorial Courts except where direct review may be had in the Supreme Court[iii].

[i] 28 USCS prec § 41

[ii] 28 USCS prec § 1291

[iii] 28 USCS prec § 1295


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