original jurisdiction - Legal Definition
The ability and authority to decide cases based on hearing testimony and viewing evidence, rather than on appeal. The distinction separates trial courts from appellate courts. When an appellate court tries a case de novo on appeal, it is said to be exercising its original jurisdiction rather than its appellate jurisdiction. State-and-county level trial courts have original jurisdiction. The federal courts have original jurisdiction in certain matters, as Congress expressly provides. See federal question and diversity jurisdiction.