Personal Jurisdiction (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The power of a court to hear and determine a lawsuit involving a defendant by virtue of the defendant's having some contact with the place where the court is located.
Personal jurisdiction, also known as in personam (against the person) jurisdiction, gives a court the authority to make decisions binding on the persons involved in a civil case. Every state has personal jurisdiction over persons within its territory. Conversely, no state can exercise personal jurisdiction and authority over persons outside its territory unless the persons have manifested some contact with the state.
The authority of the court to issue orders to persons present within the territory comes from the sovereign power of the government. The court's authority allows it to reach all residents of a state, including those who are outside the state for a short period and out-of-state residents who enter the state even briefly.
Deciding whether an individual is within the personal jurisdiction of a court has not been difficult to determine. Difficulty has arisen when courts have had to decide whether corporations were subject to personal jurisdiction. Corporations have a legal existence and a legal identity but not a tangible existence. They are subject to lawsuits involving TORT and contract. As corporations became national economic entities, the courts of a state had difficulty...
(The entire section is 976 words.)
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