The power of a court to refuse to enforce a law or government regulation that in the opinion of the judges conflicts with the U.S. Constitution or, in a state court, the state constitution.
A judicial system in which the court of law is a neutral arena where two parties argue their differences.
A law that defines crimes against the public order.
A law that governs relationships between individuals and defines their legal rights.
A dispute growing out of an actual case or controversy and that is capable of settlement by legal methods.
In a criminal action, the person or party accused of an offense.
Agreement between a prosecutor and a defendant that the defendant will plead guilty to a lesser offense to avoid having to stand trial for a more serious offense.
Public defender system
Arrangement whereby public officials are hired to provide legal assistance to people accused of crimes who are unable to hire their own attorneys.
The authority of a court to hear a case "in the first instance."
The authority of a court to review decisions made by lower courts.
Court of appeals
A court with appellate jurisdiction that hears appeals from the decisions of lower courts.
A decision made by a higher court such as a circuit court of appeals or the Supreme Court that is binding on all other federal courts.
Writ of habeas corpus
A court order requiring explanation to a judge why a prisoner is being held in custody.
Presidential custom of submitting the names of prospective appointees for approval to senators from the states in which the appointees are to work.
Philosophy proposing that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect what the framers intended and what its words literally say.
Philosophy proposing that judges should interpret the Constitution to reflect current conditions and values.
The rule of precedent, whereby a rule or law contained in a judicial decision is commonly viewed as binding on judges whenever the same question is presented.
Writ of certiorari
A formal writ used to bring a case before the Supreme Court.
The list of potential cases that reach the Supreme Court.
Amicus curiae brief
Literally, a "friend of the court" brief, filed by an individual or organization to present arguments in addition to those presented by the immediate parties to a case.
Opinion of the Court
An explanation of the decision of the Supreme Court or any other appellate court.
An opinion disagreeing with a majority in a Supreme Court ruling.
An opinion that agrees with the majority in a Supreme Court ruling but differs on the reasoning.
Class Action Suit
Lawsuit brought by an individual or a group of people on behalf of all those similarly situated
A dispute that requires knowledge of a nonolegal character or the use of techniques not suitable for a court or explicitly assigned by the Constitution to Congress or the President: judges refuse to answer constitutional questions that they declare are political
A jury of 12 to 23 persons who, in private, hear evidence presented the government to determine whether persons shall be required to stand trial. If the jury believes there is sufficient evidence that a crime was committed, it issues an indictment
A jury of 6-12 persons who determine guilt or innocence in a civil or criminal action
An official who performs a variety of limited judicial duties