Both the federal court system and the court system in Pennsylvania are set up as multi-tiered systems of appellate courts. The highest court of appellate jurisdiction in each system is called a supreme court. The United States Supreme Court was created by Article III of the federal Constitution. Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court was created 65 years before the U.S. Constitution was written.
State court appeals of criminal cases in Pennsylvania go from the trial courts to the Superior Court. The other intermediate appellate court in the state is the Commonwealth Court that hears appeals in civil cases by or against the state government.
The intermediate appellate courts in the federal court system are the Courts of Appeals. Cases involving a violation of a federal criminal law are tried in one of the three United States District Courts covering different parts of Pennsylvania. An appeal from one of those courts is taken to the United States Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit located in Philadelphia.