Glossary of Terms

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Appellate jurisdiction

(n.) The power vested in an appellate court to review and revise the judicial action of an inferior court, evidenced by an appealable order or an appealable judgment rendered by such court.

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Common Law

(n.) As distinguished from statutory law created by the enactment of legislatures, the common law comprises the body of those principles and rules of action, relating to the government and security of persons and property, which derive their authority solely from usages and customs of immemorial antiquity, or from the judgments and decrees of the courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs…In general, it is a body of law that develops and derives through judicial decisions, as distinguished from legislative enactments.

Court of Appeals

(n.) A court of which appeals are made on points of law resulting from the judgment of a lower court.

Court of Chancery

(n.) A Court administering equity and proceeding according to the forms and principles of equity.

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(n.) Justice administered according to fairness as contrasted with the strictly formulated rules of common law.

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Habeas Corpus

(Latin) The name given to a variety of writs, having for their object to bring a party before a court or judge. In common usage, and whenever these words are used alone, they are usually understood to mean the habeas corpus ad subjiciendum. The primary function of the writ is to release from unlawful imprisonment.

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(Latin) We command. This is the name of a writ which issues from a court of superior jurisdiction, and is directed to a private or municipal corporation, or any of its officers, or to an executive, administrative or judicial officer, or to an inferior court, commanding the performance of a particular act therein specified, and belonging to his or their public, official, or ministerial duty, or directing the restoration of the complainant to rights or privileges of which he has been illegally deprived.

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Original Jurisdiction

(n.) Jurisdiction to consider a case in the first instance. Jurisdiction of court to take cognizance of a cause at its inception, try it, and pass judgment upon the law and facts. (Distinguished from appellate jurisdiction.)

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(adj.)Walking or moving about, itinerant (Webster’s)

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Quo Warranto

(n.) In old English practice, a writ in the nature of a writ of right for the king, against him who claimed or usurped any office, franchise, or liberty, to inquire by what authority he supported his claim, in order to determine the right.


(n.) The minimal number of officers and members of a committee or organization, usually a majority, who must be present for valid transaction of business.

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(n.) The whole body of judges who comprise a jurisdiction; a judicial court.

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(n.) A 19th-century American political party formed to oppose the Democratic Party and favoring high tariffs and a loose interpretation of the Constitution.

Writ of Certiorari

(n.) An order by the appellate court which is used by that court when it has discretion on whether or not to hear an appeal from a lower court.

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