Mandatory Jurisdiction

Mandatory Jurisdiction in the United States

Appellate authority that must be exercised in every case. Mandatory Jurisdiction at the appellate level is typically located in those courts that handle the first round of appeals. Intermediate appellate courts such as the United States court of appeals have Mandatory Jurisdiction. Litigants are entitled to one appeal as a matter of right; thus, an appeals court in a system with only a single level or tier of appellate courts must have Mandatory Jurisdiction. Mandatory Jurisdiction is the opposite of discretionary jurisdiction, where appellate courts may choose which cases to review. Courts with Mandatory Jurisdiction first receive an appeal and supporting brief from the losing party in a lower court. A response is then received from the opposing side, after which a date is set for oral argument. The court (or a smaller panel drawn from its membership) then meets in conference and arrives at a preliminary decision. A draft opinion is then prepared and circulated among the members of the court (or panel). If continued discussion does not alter either the outcome or the contents of the opinion, the decision and the accompanying opinion are announced. Individual opinions expressing agreement or disagreement, called concurring and dissenting opinions, respectively, may be issued by one or more of the judges. The conference and opinion drafting processes used by courts with Mandatory Jurisdiction closely resemble those of the discretionary jurisdiction appellate courts.

See Also

Abbreviated Procedures (Apellate Judicial Process) Appeal (Apellate Judicial Process) Discretionary Jurisdiction (Apellate Judicial Process).

Analysis and Relevance

Courts with Mandatory Jurisdiction must decide all cases that seek review. Because these courts cannot control their dockets, they are vulnerable to the pressure of case volume. One of the things courts with Mandatory Jurisdiction have done is develop processes to expedite disposition of cases. These alternative processing methods generally require substantial support staff. The staff can review each of the cases that has been filed and tentatively determine whether it requires full consideration or can be resolved with a more limited or abbreviated review. Limited treatment might include eliminating oral arguments, reaching a decision without conference discussion, or issuing only a very brief opinion. Courts with Mandatory Jurisdiction face the largest number of appealed cases, and the use of some or all of these abbreviated procedures is a technique that can relieve some of the pressure created by case volume.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Mandatory Jurisdiction from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Mandatory Jurisdiction: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Mandatory Jurisdiction. This part provides references, in relation to Mandatory Jurisdiction, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Mandatory Jurisdiction by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Mandatory Jurisdiction and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Mandatory Jurisdiction or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Mandatory Jurisdiction and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Mandatory Jurisdiction. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Mandatory Jurisdiction should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Mandatory Jurisdiction when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

*This resource guide is updated frequently. However, if you notice something is wrong or not working, or any resources that should be added, please notify us in any of the "Leave a Comment" area.

Leave a Comment