Glossary

Government official with authority to decide lawsuits brought before courts. Judicial officers of the Supreme Court and the highest court in each state are called justices.

The official decision of a court finally determining the respective rights and claims of the parties to a suit.

(1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. Some issues can be heard in both state and federal courts. The plaintiff initially decides where to bring the suit, but in some cases, the defendant can seek to change the court. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases. A federal court in one state, for example, can usually only decide a case that arose from actions in that state.

The study of law and the structure of the legal system.

A person who is on the jury.

Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact. State court juries can be as small as six jurors in some cases. Federal juries for civil suits must have six jurors criminal suits must have twelve.

A judge's explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer and the law governing the case. Each party suggests jury instructions to the judge, but the judge chooses the final wording.

The group of people from which the actual jury is chosen. The jury pool is randomly selected from a source such as voter registration banks. Lawyers in the case choose the actual jurors from the jury pool through a process called voir dire.