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Yes and no. State supreme courts are required to hear death penalty appeals. The US Supreme Court is not required to hear any case on appeal, but may choose to review the ones they believe most worthy of their time and attention.


The Supreme Court of the United States and individual state supreme courts (courts of last resort) are able to exercise discretion over the cases they hear, under most circumstances. State supreme courts have mandatory appellate jurisdiction over capital punishment cases, meaning they are required to review all death penalty sentences within their state.

The U.S. Supreme Court gained the right of judicial discretion in determining which cases it hears in the Judiciary Act of 1925 (also called the Judges' Bill and the Certiorari Act). Prior to this legislation, which was heavily promoted by former US President, Chief Justice William Howard Taft, the Court was obligated to review all cases appealed under its jurisdiction. This legislation was a matter of practicality. By the late 19th-century the Court's caseload was so heavy, the requirement sometimes caused delays of several years between the time a case was placed on the Court's docket and the time it was heard.
In the 1970s, Congress reduced the Court's scope of mandatory appellate jurisdiction to a few categories of civil rights suits, and certain issues involving federal and state government. The US Supreme Court was relieved of all mandatory appeals in 1988 (they are no longer required to review appeals of capital punishment sentences); however, they continue to have exclusive, original jurisdiction over disputes between the states.

Most other cases reach the Court through a petition for a writ of certiorari, or a formal request for the Court to review a case, as outlined in United States Code (i.e., federal law) 28 USC § 1651(a) and in the Supreme Court Rules, Rule 10.

For more information, see Related Questions, below.

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Q: Are the US Supreme Court and state supreme courts required to hear all appeals filed or can they select cases?
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What court is considered gatekeeper to the US Supreme Court?

The US Court of Appeals Circuit Courts, which are intermediate courts of appeals (the courts between the US District Courts and the US Supreme Court) in the federal Judicial Branch. They help reduce the Supreme Court caseload by resolving appellate cases or dismissing those without merit.

Most of the supreme courts cases come?

The Supreme Court of the United States was created in 1789. Most of the cases the court hears come from lower courts. Each year, the Supreme Court receives 7,000 or more requests to hear cases from lower courts.

Congress decided to create the courts of appeals because of what?

The supreme Court was overwhelmed by cases.

Do the courts of appeals hear cases that are not important enough to come before the supreme court?

It's part of the process. I don't think a case can bypass the appeals level on its way to the supreme court.

What is the local Supreme Court called?

There is no "local" supreme court in the United States, unless you're referring to the state supreme courts. Most states use the state name and the words "supreme court" to designate their highest appellate court, as in "[State] Supreme Court" or "Supreme Court of [State]"; however, a few states, such as New York and Texas, uses different naming conventions. In New York, the supreme courts are the state trial courts, and the New York Court of Appeals is the highest appellate court. Texas has two final appellate courts to handle its massive caseload. The Supreme Court of Texas reviews civil and juvenile appeals, while the Texas Court of Criminal Appeals is their highest court for criminal cases.

Related questions

About 1 4 th of the supreme courts decisions concern appeals from?

About 1 4 th of the supreme courts decisions concern appeals from District Courts

How are courts of appeals and Supreme Courts classified?

In both the state and federal court systems, courts of appeals and supreme courts are those that have appellate jurisdiction over cases heard in courts of original jurisdiction (trial courts).

What federal courts hears appeals from lower courts?

Appellate courts. In the federal court system, the appellate courts are the US Court of Appeals Circuit Courts and the Supreme Court of the United States (aka US Supreme Court).

What kinds of appeals must the US Supreme Court hear?

The US Supreme Court does not have mandatory appellate jurisdiction any more. State supreme courts are still required to review death penalty cases.

What cases go before federal courts?

United States Appeals Courts, if by Federal you mean the Supreme Court. Otherwise, the chain goes- Local -> Appeals -> Supreme/Federal Court

How many levels are in the federal court system?

Three:Trial level (primarily US District Courts)Appellate level (US Court of Appeals Circuit Courts)Supreme Court (US Supreme Court)

What is seven different types of courts?

U.S. District Courts U.S. Court of Appeals U.S. Supreme Court State Supreme Court Appellate Courts Trial Courts Lower Courts

Which of the following correctly orders courts from lowest to highest?

district courts, appeals courts, Supreme Court

Where are cases from the state trial courts appeals?

The State Supreme Court

Where do the majority of the cases the supreme court hears from?

Federal Appeals Courts

What is Maryland's four layers of courts?

The District Courts, the Circuit Courts, the Court of Special Appeals and the states's supreme court which is called the Court of Appeals.

What takes place in federal district courts that does not happen in federal appeals courts or in Supreme Court?

Trial by jury is a right in the lower courts that does not apply in appeals courts or the Supreme Court. The jury makes findings of fact and fact is no longer in issue on appeal.