- A governmental body that adjudicates legal disputes by
interpreting and applying the law to specific cases. See also trial.
- The regular session of a
- The judge
or judges who sit on a court.
The building or other locale where a judge or judges adjudicate legal
A court with jurisdiction to hear appeals from trial courts,
administrative agencies, and, when there is an intermediate appellate court,
lower appellate courts. See also trial court
Article I court
A quasi-administrative, quasi-judicial federal court created by
Congress under Article I of the United States Constitution to settle disputes
arising from the implementation of a statutory scheme that Congress has
established in the exercise of its legislative power. For example, pursuant to
its power to impose and collect taxes under the United States Constitution,
Congress has established the United States Tax Court to hear appeals from
taxpayers who are unsatisfied with the decisions of the Internal Revenue
Service. See also legislative
Article III court
A federal court that is part of the judicial branch of the
United States government and derives its jurisdiction from Article III of the
United States Constitution. See also constitutional court and Article I court
- In a state with a judicial system that is divided into
geographical units known as circuits for the purpose of holding trials, a trial
court that sits in the circuit over which its geographical jurisdiction
extends. Often, the jurisdiction of such courts is limited to more serious
matters (for example, felonies as opposed to misdemeanors). If the circuit
encom-passes more than one county, the court may hold sessions in each
In a state with a judicial system that is divided into geographical
units known as circuits for the consideration of appeals on the intermediate
level, an intermediate appellate court that hears appeals from the circuit over
which its geographical jurisdiction extends.
- A court of the
United States Court of Appeals that considers appeals of the trials conducted
in those United States District Courts located within the states contained in
the court’s circuit. (The United States, for the purposes of the Court of
Appeals, is divided into twelve circuits. There is also the special nationwide
Federal Circuit, which hears appeals from federal courts and administrative
agencies other than the District Court.)
A court that hears the trials of noncriminal cases.
A court named or described in a state constitution or the United
States Constitution that exercises the judicial power of a state or the federal
government. See also Article
III court and legislative
A state court with jurisdiction that encompasses a single county
and with powers that are determined by a state statute or constitution. In some
states, a county court is an administrative, rather than a judicial,
governmental body or is a mixture of both.
An appellate court to which a case may be appealed.
A trial or intermediate appellate court from which a case is
court en banc
court of appeals
- Usually a state intermediate
- In Maryland and New York, the highest appellate court
in those states.
court of assize and nisi prius
See nisi prius court.
court of chancery
See chancery (or chancery court).
court of civil appeals
In some states, an intermediate court of appeal.
court of claims
States Court of Federal Claims.
court of common pleas
- In some states, a trial court of
- In some states, an intermediate
court of criminal appeals
In some states, the court of last resort for
court of equity
A trial court that adjudicates legal disputes primarily by
applying the rules and principles of equity. Courts of equity have been merged
with courts of law in most states. See also court of law.
court of first instance
See court of original jurisdiction.
court of general jurisdiction
A trial court with unlimited or nearly
unlimited jurisdiction to hear any kind of action. See also court of limited
court of last resort
The court from which a particular case can be appealed
no further. Usually a state’s highest appellate court or the United States
Supreme Court. See also intermediate appellate court.
court of law
- A trial court that adjudicates legal disputes
primarily by applying statutes and the rules and principles of the common
In states where courts of equity and courts of law have been merged, any
trial court that adjudicates legal disputes. See also court of equity.
court of limited jurisdiction
A court with jurisdiction to adjudicate only
specific kinds of legal disputes (based on either the subject matter of the
action or the amount of damages sought). See also court of general jurisdiction.
Court of Military Appeal
An appellate court that may review decision of the Court of Military
Review. For those appeals that this court declines to consider, this is
the court of last resort. However, cases that are considered may be appealed to
the United States Supreme Court. This court’s decisions are also subject to
review by the president of the United States.
Court of Military Review
An intermediate appellate court that reviews
court of original jurisdiction
A court in which, by statute or constitutional
provision, a particular type of action must be initiated and where the evidence
is heard, the facts determined, and the law applied to those facts for the
first time. Also called court of first instance and trial court.
court of record
A court that is required to keep a permanent record of all
conversations and statements made and non-verbal evidence produced during its
proceedings by use of a stenographer or other means.
In a state whose judicial system is divided into geographical
units known as districts for the purpose of holding trials, a trial court that
sits in the district over which its geographical jurisdiction extends. Often,
the court’s jurisdiction is limited to one county and to less serious matters
(for example, misdemeanors as opposed to felonies). See also circuit court.
A state court with jurisdiction to adjudicate lesser offenses
arising from drug use, usually with an emphasis on medical treatment and
supervision rather than punishment for the drug user.
A nongovernmental court that is part of the structure of an
organized religion and adjudicates internal church issues according to church
law. For centuries, such courts also had jurisdiction over matters like divorce
and wills that are now within the jurisdiction of the civil courts.
en banc court
A state court with jurisdiction to adjudicate family law issues,
such as divorce, child custody and visitation, child and spousal support,
paternity, and domestic violence.
An Article III court. Most actions involving federal law are
tried before one of the United States District Courts. An appeal of a District
Court’s decision would normally be heard first by one of the United States
Court of Appeals, and then by the United States Supreme Court (the court of
last resort in the federal judiciary). The Supreme Court also considers appeals
of state court decisions involving questions of federal law. There are also a
few specialized federal courts; see also United States Court of Federal Claims.
In appellate litigation, a session of an appellate court where
all the judges participate, typically resulting from a motion to reconsider the
decision of a three judge panel. Also known as an en banc hearing.
A court whose decision may be appealed to another court within
the same judicial system, especially a court of limited, special, or statutory
jurisdiction, such as a family or probate court.
intermediate appellate court
In those jurisdictions whose appellate court system is
divided into two levels, the lowest appellate court, the decisions of which are
subject to review by the jurisdiction’s highest appellate court. See also court of last
International Court of Justice
The principal judicial body of the United Nations whose fifteen judges usually
meet at The Hague, Netherlands, to provide advisory legal opinions to the
United Nations and to adjudicate legal disputes between countries who
voluntarily submit cases for the court’s consideration. Abbreviated ICJ.
International Criminal Court
A permanent international court, tentatively established
by the United Nations in 1998, to investigate and adjudicate the most serious
violations of international law, such as genocide and war crimes, by applying,
until the adoption of an international criminal code, the general principles of
international criminal law. Abbreviated ICC.
A state court, presided over by a justice of the peace, that has
jurisdiction over certain minor civil and criminal actions that arise outside
the city limits of any municipality. See also municipal court
A state court with jurisdiction over cases involving children
under eighteen years of age or another age set by the state legislature,
especially one concerning cases where the child is alleged to have committed
what would be an offense if done by an adult.
- A court that has no legal authority, is often
self-appointed or established by criminals or vigilantes, and where few or none
of the authorized and regular judicial procedures are usually
A lawful court whose procedures are so unauthorized or irregular that
its proceedings are extremely improper or unfair.
- A lawful court
that followed authorized and regular procedures, but is so biased against a
party as to render its judgment or verdict unfair.
A court created by a state legislature or the Congress to settle
disputes arising from the implementation of a statutory scheme that the
legislature or Congress has established in the exercise of their legislative
powers, as opposed to a court authorized by a state constitution or the United
States Constitution as part of the government’s judicial branch. See also Article I court
A state court presided over by a magistrate with jurisdiction
over minor offenses and civil actions.
A court-martial, military commission, the Court of Military
Review, and the Court of Military Justice. These are not Article III courts, but
courts established by Congress as a part of its power to raise and maintain a
military force under the militia clause found in Article I of the United States
A fictitious court consisting of law professors or lawyers,
before which law students and other lawyers argue moot or hypothetical cases or
cases pending before a court to learn or practice oral advocacy skills and
A city court with exclusive jurisdiction over violations of city
ordinances and sometimes jurisdiction over certain minor civil and criminal
cases that arise within the city limits. See also justice court.
nisi prius court
Same as court of assize and nisi prius. See nisi prius court.
- A court that, when in session, the public is allowed
to attend so long as they are orderly and peaceful.
- A court that,
when in session, is attended by all the parties and their lawyers. See also ex parte and in camera.
out of court
Accomplished or conducted without litigation, without the
involvement of a court, or outside a courtroom.
A state court with jurisdiction over proceedings regarding the
validity of wills, the administration and disposition of estates, and, in some
states, the adoption of minors and the care, custody, guardianship, and
protection of minors, incompetent individuals, and their assets. Also called
small claims court
A state or municipal court that has the jurisdiction to
adjudicate civil actions involving very small sums of money while using
informal courtroom procedures without, usually, the presence or participation
- In some states, a trial court of general
- In some states, an intermediate appellate court.
- In most states, the court of last resort.
- In New York, a
court of general jurisdiction with trial and appellate divisions.
Supreme Court of the United States
The court of last resort in the federal
judiciary pursuant to Article III of the United States Constitution, with
original jurisdiction in all cases involving ambassadors and other public
ministers and consuls as well as in all cases in which a state is a party. The
court also has appellate jurisdiction over all cases in federal court as well
as those cases in state court involving questions of federal law. Unless it is
otherwise clear, the phrase “Supreme Court” always means this court.
A state court that adjudicates disputes between the
taxpayer and the state’s tax collection agency over the individual’s tax
An Article I court that adjudicates disputes between the taxpayer
and the Internal Revenue Service over the individual’s tax deficiencies.
(Disputes over the taxpayer’s claim for a refund are considered by the United
States Court of Federal Claims.)
term of court
A session of court, defined by the court’s schedule; may refer
to a single session or a schedule of sessions over a period of time.
of original jurisdiction.
United States Court of Appeals
The intermediate appellate court in the federal
judiciary that hears appeals from trials conducted by the United States
District Courts and other lower federal courts and appeals of administrative
decisions from some federal agencies. See also circuit court.
United States Court of Federal Claims
An Article I court with jurisdiction to
hear all claims against the United States government that are based on the
United States Constitution, a federal statute or regulation, a contract with
the federal government, or other cause of action not involving a tort. Formerly
called the United States Claims Court.
United States District Court
A federal trial court having original jurisdiction
for most criminal offenses against the United States and for most of the civil
matters described in the United States Constitution.
United States Supreme Court
Court of the United States.