The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals is a federal court in the United States charged with hearing appellate cases from across the western region of the nation. It is an extremely large and diverse court, and a number of notable cases in US history have worked their way through the Ninth Circuit. As of 2009, 29 judges serve on the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals at any given time, with courthouses in San Francisco, Portland, Seattle, and Pasadena to provide multiple venues for hearing trials.
In 1891, an act of Congress created the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals along with other appellate courts to meet the needs of the growing legal system of the United States. These courts hear appeals when members of the public are not satisfied with the outcome of cases in the lower courts. The Ninth Circuit also maintains a bankruptcy court, where a panel of three judges presides over bankruptcy proceedings.
The large area covered by this appellate court makes it challenging to administer. Alaska, Hawaii, Washington, Oregon, California, Arizona, Nevada, Idaho, and Montana are all part of the region covered by the court, as are the US territories of Guam and the Northern Mariana Territories. This makes for a very diverse region in terms of the makeup of cases. Judges are drawn from all these regions and may have varying interpretations of the law, sometimes resulting in conflict during decision making.
Judges who serve on the Ninth Circuit handle everything from Hollywood high drama to questions of rights for Alaska Natives. Cases from California dominate the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Proposals to split the court to make it easier to manage have been made on a number of occasions, but critics point out that this would inevitably result in a court comprised solely or mostly of cases from California, presenting a potential problem in terms of a skew in the kinds of cases the court would hear.
Like other appellate courts, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals makes its decisions public and usually holds public hearings. The court maintains a website where it is possible to access recent court decisions as well as information about the court, including the schedule of upcoming trials. Visitors to the court need to follow basic standards of courtroom decorum, including dressing conservatively, complying with requests from bailiffs, and not being disruptive. Judges can choose to eject individuals from the proceedings if they behave inappropriately.