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Overview of the Types of Jurisdictions



Jurisdiction refers to the bounds and limits of a source of legal authority, as can be defined in various terms according to the legal system, but in general can be understood to refer both to the geographic or political territory out of which jurisdictions are constituted, as well as the kinds of legal matters which the jurisdiction can enable the person thus empowered to act towards, and in what manner this power may be exercised.

Appellate Jurisdiction

Appellate jurisdiction is a specific kind of legal authority which is oriented not toward legal matters and individuals under the legal system directly, but instead to the legal decisions which have already been made by other bodies in regard to these laws and persons. Appellate jurisdiction means that a court, judge, or other entity will be able to hear an appeal as to the rightness of a previous legal ruling and possibly overrule it.

Subject Matter Jurisdiction

As one of the basic ways in which one can have jurisdiction in the United States legal system, subject matter jurisdiction refers to the category of items over which this kind of legal authority is being exercised. Subject matter jurisdiction can be distinguished from and contrasted with the alternative categories of territorial jurisdiction and personal jurisdiction. Subject matter jurisdiction thus empowers the holder to act toward certain kinds of legal questions.

Personal Jurisdiction

Personal jurisdiction refers to one basic form of legal authority which can be possessed by a judicial decision-making body. In addition to potentially providing authority over specific people, personal jurisdiction can also provide for authority over some item of property, as will represent the specific instance of in rem personal jurisdiction. The lack of personal jurisdiction powers on the part of an interested court can be overcome with a defendant-signed waiver.

Diversity Jurisdiction

Diversity jurisdiction does not refer to lawsuits filed over claims of discrimination or comparable legal issues, but rather to the ability of a single court to hear cases involving participants who do not normally come under the territorial or personal jurisdiction of that particular court. In this regard, the United States Constitution provides for diversity jurisdiction in the language of Section 1332 of Title 28 of the U.S. Code.

Concurrent Jurisdiction

The concurrent jurisdiction concept allows for a single legal matter to come under the legal heading of more than one judicial decision-making body. Along with other exceptional circumstances in which legal matters can be placed in terms of judicial oversight, the instance of concurrent jurisdiction is provided for through the language contained in the United States Code, specifically in this case through that of Title 28 Sections 1331 and 1332.

Exclusive Jurisdiction

The idea of exclusive jurisdiction has been formulated as the opposing principle to that of concurrent jurisdiction, in which authority over some matter of the law can be claimed by more than one judicial decision-making body. Exclusive jurisdiction refers to the solely held ability of a court to issue rulings on some legal matter and to block other courts from doing so. The power of the Supreme Court can thus be understood as exclusive jurisdiction.

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