Government entity authorized to resolve legal disputes. Judges sometimes use "court" to refer to themselves in the third person, as in "the court has read the briefs."

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Person or body of persons whose task is to hear and submit a decision on cases at law.

The building, hall, or room in which such cases are heard and determined.

The regular session of a judicial assembly.

A similar authorized tribunal having military or ecclesiastical jurisdiction.

Encyclopedia Britannica

Official assembly with judicial authority to hear and determine disputes in particular cases.

In early judicial tribunals, judges sat in enclosures (courts in an architectural sense), and lawyers and the general public remained outside a bar (hence the term bar in legal contexts). Modern British courts are divided into those trying criminal cases and those trying civil cases; a second distinction is made between inferior courts, or courts of first instance, and superior courts, or courts of appeal. In the U.S. each state has its own system of courts, usually consisting of a superior (appellate) court, trial courts of general jurisdiction, and specialized courts (e.g., probate courts). The U.S. also has a system of federal courts, established to adjudicate distinctively national questions and cases not appropriately tried in state courts. At the apex of the national system is the Supreme Court of the United States. The secondary level consists of the United States Courts of Appeals. United States District Courts form the tertiary level. Crimes committed by military figures may be tried in a court-martial. In the past, ecclesiastical courts had broad jurisdiction.


An official assembly for the administration of justice.

A unit of the judicial branch of government. Dictionary

1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor of the plaintiff." 2) any official tribunal (court) presided over by a judge or judges in which legal issues and claims are heard and determined. In the United States there are essentially two systems: federal courts and state courts. The basic federal court system has jurisdiction over cases involving federal statutes, constitutional questions, actions between citizens of different states, and certain other types of cases. Its trial courts are District Courts in one or more districts per state, over which there are District Courts of Appeal (usually three-judge panels) to hear appeals from judgments of the District Courts within the "circuit." There are 10 geographic circuits throughout the nation. Appeals on constitutional questions and other significant cases are heard by the Supreme Court, but only if that court agrees to hear the case. There are also special federal courts such as bankruptcy and tax courts with appeals directed to the District Courts. Each state has local trial courts, which include courts for misdemeanors (non-penitentiary crimes), smaller demand civil actions (called municipal, city, justice or some other designation), and then courts, usually set up in each county (variously called Superior, District, County, Common Pleas courts and called Supreme Court in New York) to hear felonies (crimes punished by state prison terms), estates, divorces and major lawsuits. The highest state court is called the State Supreme Court, except in New York and Maryland, which call them Court of Appeals. Some 29 states have intermediate appeals courts which hear appeals from trial courts which will result in final decisions unless the State Supreme Court chooses to consider the matter. Some states have speciality courts such as family, surrogate and domestic relations. Small claims courts are an adjunct of the lowest courts handling lesser disputes (although California's limit is $5,000) with no representation by attorneys and short and somewhat informal trials conducted by judges, commissioners or lawyers. The great number of law cases and lawyers' procedural maneuvers has clogged courts' calendars and has induced many states or local courts to set up mediation, arbitration, mandatory settlement conferences and other formats to encourage settlement or early judgments without the cost and wait of full court trials.

The Free (Legal) Dictionary

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.


A court is a body, often a governmental institution, with the authority to adjudicate legal disputes and dispense civil, criminal, or administrative justice in accordance with rules of law. In common law and civil law states, courts are the central means for dispute resolution, and it is generally understood that all persons have an ability to bring their claims before a court. Similarly, those accused of a crime have the right to present their defense before a court.

Court facilities range from a simple farmhouse for a village court in a rural community to huge buildings housing dozens of courtrooms in large cities.

A court is a kind of deliberative assembly with special powers, called its jurisdiction, or jus dicere, to decide certain kinds of questions or petitions put to it. According to William Blackstone's Commentaries on the Laws of England, a court is constituted by a minimum of three parties, namely, the actor, reus, and judex, though, often, courts consist of additional attorneys, bailiffs, reporters, and perhaps a jury.

The term "court" is often used to refer to the president of the court, also known as the "judge" or the "bench", or the panel of such officials. For example, in the United States, and other common law jurisdictions, the term "court" (in the case of U.S. federal courts) by law is used to describe the judge himself or herself.