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Court

COURT

A judicial tribunal established to administer justice. An entity in the government to which the administration of justice is delegated. In a broader sense, the term may also refer to a legislative assembly; a deliberative body, such as the General Court of Massachusetts, which is its legislature. The words court, judge, or judges, when used in laws, are often synonymous. A kangaroo court is a mock legal proceeding that disregards law and justice by issuing a biased, predetermined judgment regardless of the evidence presented before it.

Judicial courts are created by the government through the enactment of statutes or by constitutional provisions for the purpose of enforcing the law for the public good. They are impartial forums for the resolution of controversies between parties who seek redress from a violation of a legal right. Both civil and criminal matters may be heard in the same court, with different court rules and procedures for each.

The public has a right to attend judicial proceedings. This right ensures that the proceedings will be conducted in a fair and unbiased manner. Anyone who wants may attend trials as a spectator unless a judge has closed a courtroom for particular proceedings in order to maintain order, to assure due process of law, or to protect a witness's identity.

The U.S. Judicial System consists of 52 separate court systems, plus territorial courts, in the United States. Each state and the District of Columbia has its own independent system, and the United States government maintains federal courts throughout the country. The federal courts and state courts are independent of each other. The federal courts are authorized by Article III, Section 2, of the Constitution to hear controversies that especially affect federal interests. Sometimes the existence of two parallel court systems in every state creates a strain and raises important issues concerning federalism, the relationship between the states and the United States. For some of these questions, the supreme court of the united states makes the final determination that is binding on everyone.

Most courts have a multilevel structure. A few states have a two-tiered system, but the federal government and most states use a three-tiered model. All litigants have an opportunity to argue their cases before a trial-level court, and subsequently they may be able to pursue the matter further up through two levels of appeals courts.

In the federal court system the trial-level court is the district court. Each state contains at least one district court, and most of these courts have more than one judge available to try cases. Litigants may file an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals that has jurisdiction over that district if they are unhappy with the lower court's decision, and the decision is the type that may be appealed. The United States is divided into 13 judicial circuits, and one court of appeals sits in each of twelve geographical circuits. The Court of Appeals for the Federal District sits in the thirteenth district to hear cases formerly entertained in the Court of Claims and the Court of Customs and Patents Appeals, which were abolished by the enactment of the Federal Courts Improvement Act of 1982 (28 U.S.C.A. § 1 note). Each court of appeals has four or more judges who sit either as panels of three or as a whole to review the decisions of district courts and to review or enforce the orders of many federal. administrative agencies. If a court sits as a whole, it is called an en banc court. Litigants who lose a cause in a court of appeals may be able to carry the appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The First Virtual State Court

U.S. courts have adopted various new technologies that can assist in the administration of justice, but the state of Michigan took the most radical step in 2002 when it authorized the creation of the first fully functioning cybercourt in the country. This virtual court, once fully operational, would allow attorneys to file court appearances, briefs, and other court documents online. Specially trained district and circuit judges would serve three-year assignments on this court.

The cybercourt in its first incarnation is to be limited in jurisdiction to business disputes with an amount in controversy exceeding $25,000. The court would not use juries, as it was designed to assist businesses that need quick resolutions of disputes, such as those involving trade secrets. Critics have pointed out that the system would not allow judges to examine evidence physically or even to view evidence with any certainty, given the limitations in viewing screen resolution in many video or real-time communications. In addition, critics contend that many business disputes involve issues of federal law and diversity jurisdiction, thereby denying this court the opportunity to hear many cases.

The Michigan Supreme Court proposed new rules to govern the operation of the cybercourt. These rules addressed: the filing of pleadings and other documents via the internet; the prevention of tampering with electronic documents; how testimony would be given via the Internet, videoconferencing, or interactive video; how serving notice on parties to a lawsuit via e-mail will work; and how court proceedings will be made accessible to the public.

The Michigan cybercourt was supposed to be operational by late 2002 but by mid-2003 it was still on the drawing board. In June 2003 the state legislature debated whether to provide $2 million to establish it in three locations.

further readings

Issenberg, Doug. 2001. "See You in Cybercourt?" Internet World (April 1).

"Michigan Bill Will Create Cybercourt." 2002. Associated Press (January 9). Available online at <www.ap.org/> (accessed September 1, 2003).

"Michigan House Battles Over Cybercourt Funding." Michigan Technology News. Available online at <www.mitechnews.com/registry/technews/breakingnews.htm> (accessed July 1, 2003).

"Michigan Wants to Speed Business Dispute Resolution with Cybercourt." 2001. Associated Press (February 23). Available online at <www.ap.org/> (accessed September 1, 2003).

Stephens, Gene. 2001. "Trial Run for Virtual Court." Futurist (November-December).

"Website of the Week." 2002. National Law Journal (February 11).

"Wired Future for Courtrooms." 2001. Associated Press (March 1). Available online at <www.ap.org/> (accessed September 1, 2003).

cross-references

Courtroom Television Network; Internet.

Cases in state courts may also proceed from the trial-level court up through appeals in an appellate court and then to a state supreme court. Different systems assign different functions to the state supreme court, which is usually the court of last resort, but this is not the case in every state. When an issue based on the federal Constitution, a treaty, or a federal statute is involved, the U.S. Supreme Court may agree to hear an appeal from the state supreme court.

The organization of a court and its personnel is determined by the law that created that court and by the court's own rules. Generally, the papers for each lawsuit must be filed with the clerk of the court. The clerk and his or her staff organize all of the records for the judges assigned to the court. Each judge may have a law secretary or law clerk, or there may be several clerks who perform legal research and assist in the drafting of decisions, orders, and memoranda. Court officers, court attendants, or bailiffs are available to give information and to maintain order and peace around the courthouse. Interpreters may be kept on call to translate for witnesses and parties who do not speak English well. A county sheriff or federal marshal has the responsibility for enforcement of various judicial orders. probation officers are usually civilian employees who assist the court by administering the probation system for criminal offenders and supervise court-ordered custody or payments of money, especially child support. A court stenographer, or court reporter creates a written record of proceedings word for word.

Attorneys are called officers of the court because they have a dual responsibility to protect the integrity of the legal system and pursue their clients' claims. An attorney who has been admitted to the bar in one state is entitled to practice in the courts of that state but that does not entitle him or her to practice in the courts of another state, in a federal court, or in the Supreme Court. In order to do so, he or she must qualify and be sworn in separately.

A term is the time during which a court is authorized to hear cases, and a session is one of those periods in a term when a judge is actually hearing cases. A regular term is one called for by law, and a special term may be called by a judge or other official when the circumstances warrant it. A jury may hear a case during the jury term while a motion for relief may be made to the court during the motion term. A general term sometimes means the time that all of the judges of a court sit together, or en banc, but occasionally it refers to a single judge's hearing all of the cases on a particular subject.

Laws or court rules fix the particular terms or sessions when a court is open for judicial business. If none is fixed, a court is open at all times. Any judicial action taken by a judge of the court is not invalid in such circumstances because of the time when it was taken, but it does not necessarily mean that the courthouse doors are unlocked 24 hours a day.

Rules of civil procedure and of criminal procedure regulate practice in the courts. The rules spell out rights and the manner of proceeding in regard to a court's jurisdiction and venue, the commencement of an action, parties, motions, subpoenas, pretrial discovery, juries, evidence, the order of a trial, provisional remedies, judgments, and appeals.

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"Court." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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"Court." West's Encyclopedia of American Law. . Retrieved August 21, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/law/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/court

court

court, in law, official body charged with administering justice. The term is also applied to the judge or judges who fill the office and to the courtroom itself. Courts come into existence when legal relations are no longer entirely a private matter. Thus, courts do not exist in a society governed by vendetta, and they are of little consequence in one where composition for wrongs is the rule. In addition to law courts there are ecclesiastical courts, arbitral tribunals (e.g., for labor cases), administrative tribunals, and courts-martial (see military law).

See also conflict of laws.

Early Court Systems

The most ancient courts known, e.g., those of Egypt and Babylonia, were semiecclesiastical institutions that used religious rituals in deciding issues. In Greece the functions of a court were chiefly undertaken by citizens' assemblies that heard the arguments of orators. In Rome there was a clear evolution of the court system from priestly beginnings to a wholly secular, hierarchal organization staffed by professional jurists (see Roman law). Western Europe (after the collapse of Rome) and Anglo-Saxon England had mainly feudal courts of limited territorial authority, administering customary law, which differed in each locale.

Courts in England

In England, after the Norman Conquest (1066), royal authority was gradually extended over the feudal lords, and by the early 13th cent., although purely local courts had not been abolished, the supremacy of the central courts that had evolved from the Curia Regis [Lat.,=king's court], namely, the Court of Exchequer, the Court of Common Pleas, and King's Bench, was established. The Court of Common Pleas heard cases between ordinary subjects of the king, while King's Bench heard cases involving persons of high rank and acted as a court of appeals. Soon itinerant royal courts were established to spare civil litigants the labor and expense of going to the capital at Westminster and to afford hearings to persons held on criminal charges in county jails. By the 14th cent. the principal function of the central courts was to hear appeals from the circuit courts.

Unity was at least temporarily disrupted by the emergence (16th cent.) of equity as a distinct body of law administered by the chancery. The conflict of jurisdiction continued to some extent until 1875, when the Judicature Act of 1873 went into effect. As presently constituted as a result of subsequent reforms, the courts of England and Wales consist of the Court of Appeal, the High Court (with civil jurisdiction), the Crown Court (with criminal jurisdiction), the county courts, and the magistrates' courts. The High Court is divided, purely for administrative purposes, into three divisions: Chancery, Family, and King's (or Queen's) Bench. Appeals were in some instances taken from the court of appeal to the House of Lords, but the Constitutional Reform Act 2005 established a Supreme Court for Great Britain and Northern Ireland, which began work in 2009, ending the role of the House of Lords as the highest court of appeal. The judicial committee of the privy council, of which the Supreme Court justices are members, hears appeals from overseas territories still under British domain and from some Commonwealth countries.

Courts in the United States

In the United States there are two distinct systems of courts, federal and state. Each is supreme in its own sphere, but if a matter simultaneously affects the states and the federal government, the federal courts have the decisive power. The district court is the lowest federal court. Each state has at least one federal district, and some of the more populous states contain as many as four districts. There are 11 circuit courts of appeals (each with jurisdiction over a defined territory) and a court of appeals for the District of Columbia; these hear appeals from the district courts. There are, in addition, various specialized federal courts, including the Tax Court and the federal Court of Claims. Heading the federal court system is the U.S. Supreme Court.

The court systems of the states vary to some degree. At the bottom of a typical structure are local courts that have authority only in specific matters and jurisdictions (e.g., court of the justice of the peace, police court, and court of probate). County courts, or the equivalent, exercising general criminal and civil jurisdiction, are on the next level. All states have a highest court of appeals, and some also have intermediate appellate courts. In a few states separate courts of equity persist.

See court system in the United States for a fuller discussion of this topic.

Bibliography

See H. Potter, Historical Introduction to English Law and Its Institutions (4th ed. 1958, repr. 1969); L. Mayers, The American Legal System (rev. ed. 1964); R. M. Jackson, The Machinery of Justice in England (5th ed. 1967); M. Shapiro, Courts: A Comparative Political Analysis (1986); E. C. Surrency, History of the Federal Courts (1987); J. L. Waldman and K. M. Holland, The Political Role of Law Courts in Modern Democracies (1988).

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"court." The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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court

court. The institution known as the court has changed its meaning over the centuries. In early medieval times, the court, or household, was the centre of government. The chamberlain and butler performed their personal services for the king but also acted as advisers in broader questions. The monarch, with counsellors and great officers in attendance, would do business, receive petitions, and dispense justice. The king's journeys around the shires enabled some of his subjects to visit him locally, but must have inhibited the social side of court life, since it would not have been easy to accommodate large numbers of unexpected guests: Henry II's movements were notoriously unpredictable. As public business increased, various functions were delegated: much administration was left to the council, and justice to the specialized law courts. But as long as political power remained with the monarch, the division between public and private, government and ceremony, could never be absolute. It has been suggested that, as a result of the ‘Tudor revolution in government’, the court from the 1530s took on a purely ceremonial role. That is premature. All through the Tudor and early Stuart period, careers could be made or broken at court—Wolsey, Leicester, Essex, Rochester, Buckingham. The more routine aspects of government may have been hived off, but the crucial decisions still rested with the monarch and his immediate advisers. But after the Glorious Revolution, as power drained away to Parliament and the cabinet, the importance of the court began to diminish. Charles II's court had been lively, with obliging ladies founding aristocratic families, but money had started to run out. Monarchs also shared with many noblemen the preference for a less public and more domestic home life. By George II's reign, court life was routine and placid, save for a few grand occasions. To some extent this was fortuitous. William III was taciturn, Anne shy, George I inhibited by language difficulties; George II's temper made his receptions distinctly unpredictable, and George III's tastes ran to domestic bliss. Nor could the court any longer afford the patronage that had made Charles I a connoisseur of the arts. Monarchs still wielded considerable influence but in direct consultation with ministers in private or in correspondence rather than through the court. The Edwardian court in the 1900s saw a brief social revival, partly because of the novelty of a visible monarch after Victoria's protracted seclusion, partly because Edward VII enjoyed company. But it was an Indian summer and went down in the trenches of 1917. After the Great War, society did not really recover. There were still people to whom it mattered to be received at court. But to almost all subjects in the late 20th cent. the court meant nothing, politically or socially. Though The Times continued dutifully to print a court circular, it is doubtful whether it was as much read as the sports page.

J. A. Cannon

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"court." The Oxford Companion to British History. . Encyclopedia.com. 21 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

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court

court / kôrt/ • n. 1. (also court of law) a tribunal presided over by a judge, judges, or a magistrate in civil and criminal cases: a settlement was reached during the first sitting of the court she will take the matter to court | [as adj.] a court case. ∎  any of various other tribunals, such as military courts. ∎  the place where such a tribunal meets. ∎  (the court) the judge or judges presiding at such a tribunal. 2. a quadrangular area, either open or covered, marked out for ball games such as tennis or basketball: an indoor tennis court. ∎  a quadrangular area surrounded by a building or group of buildings. ∎  a subdivision of a building, usually a large hall extending to the ceiling with galleries and staircases. 3. the establishment, retinue, and courtiers of a sovereign: the emperor is shown with his court. ∎  a sovereign and his or her councilors, constituting a ruling power: relations between the king and the imperial court. ∎  a sovereign's residence. • v. [tr.] dated be involved with romantically, typically with the intention of marrying: he was courting a girl from the neighboring farm | [intr.] we went to the movies when we were courting. ∎  (of a male bird or other animal) try to attract (a mate). ∎  pay special attention to (someone) in an attempt to win their support or favor: Western politicians courted the leaders of the newly independent states. ∎  go to great lengths to win (favorable attention): he never had to court the approval of the political elite. ∎  risk incurring (misfortune) because of the way one behaves: he has often courted controversy. PHRASES: go to court take legal action. hold courtsee hold1 . in court appearing as a party or an attorney in a court of law. out of court 1. before a legal hearing can take place: they are trying to settle the squabble out of court | [as adj.] an out-of-court settlement. 2. treated as impossible or not worthy of consideration: the price would put it out of court for most private buyers. pay court to pay flattering attention to someone in order to win favor.

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court

court court card a playing card that is a king, queen, or jack of a suit. The term dates from the mid 17th century, and is an alteration of coat card, so named because of the decorative dress of the figures depicted.
court circular a daily report of the activities and public engagements of royal family members, published in some newspapers from the mid 19th century.
court hand a notoriously illegible style of handwriting used in English law courts until banned in 1731.
court martial a judicial court for trying members of the armed services accused of offences against military law.
court of love an institution said to have existed in southern France in the Middle Ages, a tribunal composed of lords and ladies deciding questions of love and gallantry; such an institution in medieval literature.
Court of St James's the British sovereign's court; St James's Palace was the chief royal residence between 1660 and 1837, when Queen Victoria moved to Buckingham Palace. It is currently the official London residence of the Prince of Wales.

See also the ball is in someone's court, a friend at court.

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court

court (residence of) royal household and retinue; assembly held by a sovereign XII; (place of) assembly of judges, etc.; enclosed area, yard XIII; homage, courtly attention XVI. — AN. curt, OF. cort (mod. cour) :- late L. (Rom.) curt-, earlier co(ho)rt- yard, enclosure, crowd, retinue, COHORT. court-card picture card of a suit. XVII. alt. of †coat card card bearing a ‘coated’ or habited figure (XVI–XVII). court-martial XVII; earlier †martial court. court-plaster stickingplaster for wounds XVIII; so called from being used for the black silk patches worn on the face by ladies at court. court vb. †frequent the court; pay court to, woo. XVI; after OIt. corteare (later corteggiare), OF. courtoyer (later courtiser), f. corte, court. courtier attendant at the court of a sovereign. XIII. ME. courteour — AN. courte(i)our, f. OF. *cortoyeur, f. cortoyer; suffix assim. to -IER. courtly XV; see -LY 1. courtship XVI.

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court

court.
1. Clear area enclosed by walls or surrounded by buildings, such as a space left for the admission of light and air, an area around a castle keep, a forecourt or cour d'honneur in front of a grand house, a cortile, a Cambridge college quadrangle, or a cloister.

2. Princely or Royal residence (as at Hampton Court Palace).

3. Building where legal tribunals sit.

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Court

Court

the retinue of a sovereign; an organization for the administration of justice; directors, managers, delegates, or courtiers collectively.

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court

courtabort, apport, assort, athwart, aught, besought, bethought, bort, bought, brought, caught, cavort, comport, consort, contort, Cort, court, distraught, escort, exhort, export, extort, fort, fought, fraught, import, methought, misreport, mort, naught, nought, Oort, ought, outfought, port, Porte, purport, quart, rort, short, snort, sort, sought, sport, support, swart, taught, taut, thought, thwart, tort, transport, wart, wrought •cohort • backcourt • Port Harcourt •forecourt • onslaught • dreadnought •Connacht • aeronaut • Argonaut •juggernaut • cosmonaut • astronaut •aquanaut • davenport • carport •passport • airport •Freeport, seaport •Shreveport •heliport, teleport •Stockport • outport • Coalport •spoilsport •Newport, viewport •hoverport •forethought, malice aforethought •afterthought • worrywart

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