ACADEMIC TOPICS

Crime Against Nature

An archaic term used to describe sexual practices deemed deviant or not natural by a legislature or a court. Examples range from bestiality (intercourse between a human and an animal) to necrophilia (intercourse with a dead body). Few states still have "crime against nature" statutes on the books, and any that still include consensual sexual acts, such as sodomy, between adults are unconstitutional under a 2003 United States Supreme Court decision, Lawrence v. Texas.

Court of Law

Any tribunal within a judicial system. Under English common law and in some states, it was a court that heard only lawsuits in which money damages were sought, as distinguished from a court of equity, which could grant specific remedies. That distinction has dissolved and today every court (with the exception of federal bankruptcy courts) is a court of law. Compare: court of equity

Court of Equity

Courts that handle lawsuits requesting remedies other than monetary damages, such as writs, injunctions, and specific performance. Such courts existed, separate from courts of law, under English common law and in several states. Federal bankruptcy courts are an example of courts that continue to operate as courts of equity. Compare: court of law

Court of Appeal(s)

1) Any court (state or federal) that hears appeals from trial courts or lower appeals courts. 2) The intermediate courts in most jurisdictions -- that is the courts positioned between trial courts and the courts of last appeal (usually the supreme court).

Court Costs

The fees charged for the use of a court, including the initial filing fee, fees for serving the summons, complaint, and other court papers, fees to pay a court reporter to transcribe depositions (pretrial interviews of witnesses) and in-court testimony, and, if a jury is involved, to pay the daily stipend of jurors. Often costs to photocopy court papers and exhibits are also included. Court costs must be paid by both the plaintiff and the defendant as the case progresses. In many types of cases, however, the losing party is held responsible for both parties' costs.

Court

Any official tribunal 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. There are also special federal courts such as bankruptcy and tax courts. Each state has local trial courts, which include courts for misdemeanors, smaller demand civil actions (called municipal, city, justice, or some other designation), and then superior or district courts to hear felonies, estates, divorces, and major lawsuits. 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.

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