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There are 13 U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeal in the United States. These courts are divided into 12 regional circuits and sit in various cities throughout the country. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit (the 13th Court) sits in Washington. With the exception of criminal cases in which a defendant is found not guilty, any party who is dissatisfied with the judgment of a U.S. District Court (or the findings of certain administrative agencies) may appeal to the U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal in his/her geographical district. These courts will examine the trial record for only mistakes of law; the facts have already been determined by the U.S. District Court. Therefore, the court usually will neither review the facts of the case nor take any additional evidence. When hearing cases, these courts usually sit in panels of three judges.

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