Jurisdiction of the Criminal Courts

A Federal Appeals Court has put to rest another few myths about jurisdiction and the need for “impressed seals”.

In an appeal, Turner said a judge should have delayed his trial and required the government to prove the federal courts had jurisdiction over him. The 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta said the jurisdiction argument fails.

“If an indictment alleges conduct constituting a federal offense, the district courts have jurisdiction,” a three-judge panel of the appeals court wrote. [1]

Turner also argued that the judgment against him wasn’t official because it wasn’t authenticated by the court’s impressed seal and signed by the clerk of the court.

“No current law requires that a judgment issued in a federal criminal case be sealed or signed by the clerk of court,” the appeals court said Thursday.


[1] From the ruling: We review a claim for the dismissal of an indictment for lack of jurisdiction de novo. See United States v. Sharpe, 438 F.3d  1257, 1258 (11th Cir. 2006). Dismissal is improper if “the factual allegations in the indictment, when viewed in the light most favorable to the government, were sufficient to charge the offense as a matter of law.” Id. at 1258–59 (internal quotation marks omitted). United States federal district courts have original and exclusive jurisdiction over “all offenses against the laws of the United States.” 18 U.S.C. § 3231. If an indictment alleges conduct constituting a federal offense, the district courts have jurisdiction. See United States v. McIntosh, 704 F.3d 894, 902–03 (11th Cir.  2013). Here, Turner was charged with several offenses against the United States, including, but not limited to, violations of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (conspiracy to defraud the United States); 18 U.S.C. § 514 (presenting fictitious financial obligations);and 18 U.S.C. § 152(2) (making a false statement under oath in a bankruptcy proceeding). Turner’s jurisdiction argument fails.