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Glossary

This page provides short definitions for many of the legal terms used in this module. For more specific definitions, visit the online resources at Law.com Dictionary or the Law Dictionary (Black's Law Dictionary). A link following each glossary entry allows you to return to the page where the term is first used.

Amicus Brief: A brief filed by a person, organization, or group who is not a party to the litigation, filed on an advisory basis. Derived from the Latin term "amicus curiae", or "friend of the court" (return).

Certiorari: The process by which a party to a case requests that the case be reviewed by the Supreme Court. If four Supreme Court justices agree to hear the case, the Court will issue a "writ of certiorari", a legal document that allows the case to proceed. If less than four Justices agree to hear the case, the case is "denied cert" and the decision of the lower court is final (return).

Court-Martial: A military trial conducted by military officers who serve as both judge and jury (return).

Common Law: The traditional law developed by English courts, much of which was based on custom and legal precedents. Courts in the United States, Canada, and Australia follow many of the principles of the common law (return).

Diversity Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction exercised by a federal court over cases involving parties from different states (return).

En Banc: A panel of all judges in a given judicial circuit. Such a panel hears rehearing requests from parties wishing to contest the ruling of a three-judge panel (return).

Federal Question Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction exercised by a federal court over cases that impact on federal or Constitutional law (return).

Impeachment: The process by which an officeholder, such as a federal judge, is removed from his position of authority because of illegal conduct (return).

Judicial Review: The doctrine that the Supreme Court may find statutes passed by Congress to be void if they violate the Constitution (return).

Jurisdiction: The legal authority of a court to try a given case(return).

Oyez: A Norman French term meaning "hear ye", used to call a court session to order (return).

Per Curiam: An opinion issued by an appellate court as a whole and not authored by any particular judge (return).

Remand: The process by which a higher court (such as the Supreme Court) sends a case back to a lower court. The lower court then issues a new decision that conforms to the higher court's ruling (return).

Stare Decisis: A legal doctrine which requires lower courts to follow the precedents set by previous courts (return).

Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction of a court over the facts of a given case (return).

Supplemental Jurisdiction: The jurisdiction exercised by a federal court over a state-law case to help resolve all issues between the parties in one forum, also known as "ancillary jurisdiction" or "pendent jurisdiction" (return).

Verdict: The final decision issued by a jury after the completion of a trial. (return).

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