\ afm \ Adjudicator's Field Manual - Redacted Public Version \ Chapter 14 Sources of Information / Conducting Research. \ 14.5 Decisions of Federal Courts.
Previous Document Next Document
14.5 Decisions of Federal Courts.
The Federal court system is divided into three levels: district courts, circuit courts of appeal, and the U.S. Supreme Court.
is sometimes involved in litigation in these courts that may affect laws under which
operates. Although not as common, judicial decisions not directly involving
operations. You need to understand these decisions and the authority of the federal courts in order to know whether they affect various areas of immigration law you will be responsible for implementing.
The decision of a court has precedent value only within the court's territorial jurisdiction. For example, the opinions of the Supreme Court have precedent value nationally because all lower courts must follow its decisions. The decisions of a court of appeals bind the courts within the circuit’s jurisdiction. However, decisions of a federal district court are not binding on federal courts in any other district.
District courts are the trial bodies of the federal court system. Some states have only one district court while other states have several district courts. Decisions by judges within the same district can influence rulings in similar cases. However, a district court judge will occasionally certify a case as a class action suit and then enter an injunction that applies to all members of the defined class. If the members of the class are located nation-wide, the injunction applies nationally. Thus injuncti
ons or other orders requiring
to act in a certain way are often issued from the district courts. In addition, decisions in other districts can be persuasive and used by courts in deciding a similar case in their district.
Appeals from a district court are taken to the courts of appeal in 13 circuits. Again, decisions by one of these courts are binding only upon the district and circuit court judges within that circuit. While an interpretation of law is binding only on judges in that circuit, judges can look to other circuits for decisions which are similar to cases being decided within their circuit. It is important for you to be aware of specific interpretations of the law in your district and circuit, as well as those a
The Supreme Court of the United States generally hears appeals from the circuit courts of appeal. Decisions of the Supreme Court are binding upon all U.S. courts.
, described later, usually mentions recent judicial decisions affecting the Service. Internal Service communications and transmittals will also inform you of decisions affecting your duties. Read these carefully when you receive them, and store them for future reference.