About the Courts
United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit:
The United States Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (“Federal Circuit”) was created from a merger of the United States Court of Customs and Patent Appeals and the appellate division of the United States Court of Federal Claims. The Federal Circuit is the only appellate court that has its jurisdiction based entirely upon subject matter rather than geographic location. It hears appeals from all federal district courts, certain administrative agencies, and appeals arising under certain statutes. It has jurisdiction over appeals from the United States Court of Federal Claims, United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims, United States Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, United States Board of Patent Appeals and Interferences, Board of Contract Appeals (for government contracts), United States Merit Systems Protection Board (pertaining to federal employment law issues), United States International Trade Commission, and United States Court of International Trade. The decisions of the Federal Circuit are binding precedent throughout the nation and are only superseded by decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States. For more information on the Federal Circuit, please visit http://www.cafc.uscourts.gov/.
United States District Court for the District of Columbia:
This federal district court has jurisdiction over criminal and civil cases. As such, it handles a vast array of interesting matters and conducts trials. For more information, please visit https://ecf.dcd.uscourts.gov/cgi-bin/Opinions.pl?2014.
United States Court of Federal Claims:
The United States Court of Federal Claims was created in 1855 to ensure the right of U.S. citizens to seek monetary redress against the federal government. Often referred to as the “keeper of the nation’s conscience,” this court has nationwide jurisdiction over most suits for monetary claims against the federal government and sits without a jury. The court handles a vast array of cases, including but not limited to those involving vaccine law, government contracts, tax law, military pay, and takings. It also hears claims involving patent and copyright infringement brought against the United States and over certain suits brought by Indian tribes. For more information, please visit http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/.
Office of the Special Masters of the United States Court of Federal Claims:
The National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act of 1986 (“Vaccine Act”) created the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (“Vaccine Program”). The Vaccine Program established a no-fault compensation scheme that allows individuals who allegedly suffered injury or death as a result of the receipt of certain vaccines to sue the federal government for monetary damages. The Office of Special Masters (“OSM”) was created pursuant to the Vaccine Act to administer the Vaccine Program, which aims to provide an expeditious and less adversarial alternative to traditional tort litigation. For more information on OSM, please visit http://www.uscfc.uscourts.gov/vaccine-programoffice-special-masters-0.
United States Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims
The Veterans’ Judicial Review Act established the Court in 1988. Effective March 1, 1999, it was given its current name. It is part of the federal judiciary, not the Department of Veterans Affairs. The court has exclusive jurisdiction to review decisions of the Board of Veterans’ Appeals based on the record before the agency and arguments of the parties. Parties submit presented in a written brief, with oral argument generally held only in cases presenting new legal issues. For more information, please visit https://www.uscourts.cavc.gov/about.php.