Handbook for Trial JurorsServing the United States District Court
In this country, there are two systems of courts. They are the courts of the individual 50 States and the District of Columbia and the courts of the Federal Government. This book is written for jurors selected to serve in the trial court of the Federal Government, the United States District Court. The types of cases which can be brought in this court have been fixed by the United States Congress according to our Federal Constitution.
Cases in the United States District Courts are divided into two general classes. These are called criminal cases and civil cases.
Criminal cases are those in which individuals or organizations are charged with breaking the criminal laws. Typical criminal charges in a federal court are those involving violation of the federal income tax and narcotics laws, mail theft, and counterfeiting. Civil cases are suits in which persons who disagree over their rights and duties come into court to settle the matter. A typical example of a civil case is one involving a broken contract. One party may claim that it should be paid under the terms of the contract, while the other side may assert a defense to the claim, such as the lack of a binding contract. The court is asked to decide who is right. This depends on the law as laid down by the judge and the facts as decided by the jury.