Chapter 4: Courtrooms
Judges and Courtrooms
U.S. Court of Appeals. The primary function of USCA courtrooms is the
presentation of oral arguments by counsel to USCA judges. Arguments involve
appeals of decisions from the USDC and USBC, as well as from the tax court and
various federal administrative agencies. Other functions include ceremonial events
such as the induction of judges newly appointed to the bench.
U.S. District Court. The primary function of USDC courtrooms is to conduct
criminal and civil proceedings. USDC judges conduct hearings, bench trials, and
jury trials in both civil and criminal cases. Only district judges conduct felony
Magistrate Judge Courtroom. The function of magistrate judge courtrooms is to
hold hearings on preliminary matters in criminal cases (e.g., an arraignment,
where a defendant is brought before a judge to enter a plea). Magistrate judges
preside over these hearings and also conduct misdemeanor trials. Under certain
circumstances, magistrate judges conduct the full range of proceedings in civil
cases, up to and including jury trials.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court. The function of USBC courtrooms is similar to that of
USDC courtrooms; however, there are no criminal trials. USBC judges conduct a
variety of civil proceedings relating to debtor-creditor relationships and sometimes
sit on bankruptcy appellate panels. Occasionally, they conduct civil jury trials.
Courtroom Deputy Clerk. In trial courtrooms, the courtroom deputy clerk
typically is responsible for tracking all court activity during the proceedings,
including the order of cases called, as well as documenting decisions by the court
and tagging and caring for exhibits. The deputy clerk often confers with the judge
during proceedings and can swear in the jury and witnesses. In appeals
courtrooms, the courtroom deputy clerk typically is responsible for announcing
cases to be heard and for operating the timing system and recording equipment.
Law Clerk. The law clerk provides research assistance to the judge and can
attend courtroom proceedings.
Bailiff. In some locations, the USCA requires a bailiff. The bailiff is responsible