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45 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back


A unit of the judicial branch of government that has authority to decide legal disputes.


The power of a court to hear a case.

Trial Courts

Courts that determine the facts and apply the law to the facts.

Original jurisdiction

The authority of a court to hear a case when it is initiated, as opposed to appellate jurisdiction.

Bench trial

A trial conducted without a jury.

Appellate courts

Courts that determine whether lower courts have made errors of law.

Appellant or petitioner

The party in a case who has initiated an appeal

Appellee or respondent

The party in a case against whom an appeal has been filed.

Harmless error

A trial court error that is not sufficient to warrant reversing the decision.


A decision which the appellate court overturns or negates the decision of a lower court.


When an appellate court sends a case back to the trial court for a new trial or action.

Majority opinion

An opinion in which a majority of the court joins.

Concurring opinion

An opinion that agrees with the majority's result but disagrees with its reasoning.

Dissenting opinion

An opinion that disagrees with the majority's decision and its reasoning.

Questions of fact

Questions relating to what happended: who, what, when, where, and how.

Questions of law

Questions relating to the interpretation or application of the law.


A defense requiring proof that the defendant would not have committed the crime but for police trickery.

Inferior courts

In the federal system, all courts other than the U.S. Supreme Court. (district courts and courts of appeal)

Constitutional courts

A court establised by Article III of the U.S. Constitution.

U.S. district courts

The general jurisdiction trial courts in the federal system.

Court clerks

responsible for keeping the court files in proper condition and ensuring that the various motions filed by lawyers and the actions taken by judges are properly recorded.

U.S. Courts of Appeals

The intermediate appellate courts in the federal system.

U.S. Supreme Court

The highest federal appellate court, consisting of nine appointed members.

General jurisdiction

A court's power to hear any type of case arising within its geographical area.

Limited jurisdiction

A court's power to hear only specialized cases.


A court order requiring a person to appear to testify at a trial or deposition.

En banc

When an appellate court that normally sits in the panels sits as a whole.

Writ of certiorari

A means of gaining appellate review; in the U.S. Supreme Court the writ is discretionary and will be issued to another court to review a federal question if four of the nine justices vote to hear the case.

Legislative courts

Courts created under Congress's Article I powers.

Court of record

A court where a permanent record is kept of the testimony, lawyers' remarkes, and judges' rulings

General jurisdiction

A court's power to hear any type of case arising within its geographical area.

Limited jurisdiction

A court's power to hear only specialized cases.

Executive jurisdiction

When only one court has the power to hear a case.

Concurrent jurisdiction

When more than one court has jurisdiction to hear a case.

Federal question jurisdiction

The power of the federal courts to hear matters of federal law.

Federal question

A legal question involving the application of a federal law.

Diversity of citizenship

A situation where the opposing parties are from different states and the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.


The transfer of a case from one state court to another or from a state court to a federal court.

justices of the peace, court commissioners, and magistrates

Lower-leval court personnel who perform limited judicial duties but are not considered full-fledged judges.

adversarial system

makes attorneys responsible for presenting all of the relevant facts and arguments

inquisitorial system

opposite of adversarial system.

Court reporter

prepares verbatim transcripts of courtroom proceedings.


responsible for maintaining order in the courtrooms

Sheriffs and Marshals

serve summones and other court documents, collect money as required by the court judgments, and otherwise help in carrying out the court's orders.

Jury trial

Questions of fact are determined by the jury, while questions of law are determined by the judge.