Ian’s Legal Fact of the Week 12/10/12: Circuit Courts

Circuit courts were first established under the reign of King Henry II of England in the mid-12th century, meant to supplement the royal courts in London by having judges travel the countryside (“riding circuit”) to hear cases. In the U.S., circuit courts were established in all 13 colonies. Following Independence from Great Britain, the Judiciary Act of 1789 required Supreme Court justices to ride circuit and personally hear intermediate appeals in addition to the Court’s regular caseload. This was changed by the Judiciary Act of 1891 which established 9 Federal appeals courts and eliminated the requirement for justices to ride circuit.


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