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Overview of the Federal Court System

The federal courts are divided into three levels: the United States Supreme Court, the United States Courts of Appeals, and the United States District Courts.

The United States District Court for the Northern District of West Virginia covers the northern 32 counties in the state of West Virginia.  The court had its beginnings in 1819 when Virginia was divided into two federal court districts and the Western District of Virginia was headquartered in Clarksburg.  In 1861, Congress formed the District Court for West Virginia and again in 1901, Congressional action divided the federal court in West Virginia into the Northern and Southern Districts. The Northern District of West Virginia currently has four divisions sitting in Clarksburg, Elkins, Martinsburg and Wheeling.

Appeals from this Court go to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit and then to the United States Supreme Court.

The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts created the following guides to explain the federal court system:

Inside the Federal Courts

Understanding the Federal Courts