Courts of appealDecisions of the district courts and rulings by federal administrative agencies can be brought to federal courts of appeal. There are 13 such courts, each covering a geographic area called a circuit. Eleven of the circuits take in multistate areas. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, for example, includes eight Western states and Alaska. There is a court in the District of Columbia and one that specializes in patents and contract claims against the federal government. The courts of appeal hand down decisions based on the majority vote of a three-judge panel. As in the state system, there is a winnowing of cases as the appeals are brought to the next level. Of the approximately 276,000 cases heard by the district courts each year, about 48,500 reach the courts of appeal, and the vast majority is resolved there. The Supreme Court may receive as many
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