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The name of one of the courts of the United States. It is held by a judge, called the district judge. Several courts under the same name have been established by state authority.
Most federal cases are initially tried and decided in the U.S. district courts, the federal courts of general trial jurisdiction. There are 94 district courts in the 50 states, the District of Columbia, the Commonwealth of Puerto Rico, and the territories of Guam, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Northern Mariana Islands. With the exception of the three territorial courts, all district court judges are appointed for life by the President with the advice and consent of the Senate. A district may itself be divided into divisions and may have several places where the court hears cases. Congress authorizes judgeships for each district based in large part on the caseload. In each district, the judge who has served on the court the longest and who is under 65 years of age is designated as the chief judge. The chief judge has administrative duties in addition to a caseload. There are 649 district court judges.
In the year ended June 30, 1992, the U.S. district courts received 226,895 civil cases to decide. Among the types of civil suits that entered the courts in 1992 were civil rights actions (23,419), cases concerning personal injury and damage to property (36,469), and prisoner petitions (46,452). The district courts terminated 239,633 civil cases.
The U.S. district courts received 48,342 criminal cases to decide in 1992, and they terminated 43,493. Of the newly filed criminal cases, the vast majority (69.9%) were felonies. They included homicide (195), tax fraud (849), robbery (1,804), forgery and counterfeiting (1,238), and drug offenses (12,512).