Jurisdiction (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The geographic area over which authority extends; legal authority; the authority to hear and determine causes of action.
Jurisdiction generally describes any authority over a certain area or certain persons. In the law, jurisdiction sometimes refers to a particular geographic area containing a defined legal authority. For example, the federal government is a jurisdiction unto itself. Its power spans the entire United States. Each state is also a jurisdiction unto itself, with the power to pass its own laws. Smaller geographic areas, such as counties and cities, are separate jurisdictions to the extent that they have powers that are independent of the federal and state governments.
Jurisdiction also may refer to the origin of a court's authority. A court may be designated either as a court of general jurisdiction or as a court of special jurisdiction. A court of general jurisdiction is a trial court that is empowered to hear all cases that are not specifically reserved for courts of special jurisdiction. A court of special jurisdiction is empowered to hear only certain kinds of cases.
Courts of general jurisdiction are often called district courts or superior courts. In New York State, however, the court of general jurisdiction is called the Supreme Court of New York. In most jurisdictions, other trial courts of special jurisdiction exist apart from...
(The entire section is 3535 words.)
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