Subject Matter Jurisdiction (West's Encyclopedia of American Law)
The power of a court to hear and determine cases of the general class to which the proceedings in question belong.
For a court to have authority to adjudicate a dispute, it must have jurisdiction over the parties and over the type of legal issues in dispute. The first type of jurisdiction is called PERSONAL JURISDICTION; the other is subject matter jurisdiction. Personal jurisdiction will be found if the persons involved in the litigation are present in the state or are legal residents of the state in which the lawsuit has been filed, or if the transaction in question has a substantial connection to the state.
Subject matter jurisdiction refers to the nature of the claim or controversy. The subject matter may be a criminal infringement, MEDICAL MALPRACTICE, or the probating of an estate. Subject matter jurisdiction is the power of a court to hear particular types of cases. In state court systems, statutes that create different courts generally set boundaries on their subject matter jurisdiction. One state court or another has subject matter jurisdiction of any controversy that can be heard in courts of that state. Some courts specialize in a particular area of the law, such as probate law, FAMILY LAW, or JUVENILE LAW. A person who seeks custody of a child, for example, must go to a court that has authority in guardianship matters. A DIVORCE can be granted only in a court...
(The entire section is 632 words.)
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