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Vocabulary for Chapter 18 Quiz (Magruder's American Government Text 2007)

Inferior Courts/Lower Courts

Those federal courts beneath the Supreme Court


The authority of a court to hear (to try and to decide) a case. The term means, literally, the power "to say the law."

Exclusive jurisdiction

Power of the federal courts alone to hear certain cases

Concurrent jurisdiction

Power shared by federal and state courts


The person who files suit, the party who brings some legal action against another


The person whom the complaint is against; the person against whom a court action is brought

Original jurisdiction

Power to hear a case first, before any other court; A court in which a case is first heard

Appellate jurisdiction

Authority of a court to review decisions of inferior/lower courts; A court that hears a case on appeal from a lower court

Federal criminal case

A case in which the defendant is tried for commiting some action that Congress has declared by law to be a federal crime

Federal civil case

A case in which the defendant is tried for committing some action that Congress has declared not covered by criminal law, including disputes between private persons and between private persons and government


A courts list of cases to be heard;

writ of certiorari

An order by a higher court directing a lower court to send up the record in a given case for review; from the Latin meaning "to be more certain."


A method of putting a case before the Supreme Court; used when a lower court is not clear about the procedure or rule of law that should apply in a case and asks the Supreme Court to certify the answer to a specific question

Majority Opinion

Written statement by a majority of the judges of a court in support of a decision made by that court


Previous court decisions that influence the ruling of later and similar cases

Concurring Opinion

Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who support a decision reached by a majority of the court but disagree with the grounds for that decision

Dissenting Opinion

Written explanation of the views of one or more judges who disagree with a decision reached by a majority of the court


Satisfaction of a claim payment brought in court


A court composed of military personnel, for the trial of those accused of violating military law

Common law

That body of law made up of generally accepted standards of rights and wrongs developed over centuries by judicial decisions rather thatn in written statutes

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