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Court

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COURT. Although the word "court' is still used as descriptive of the household of a reigning monarch and in connection with the official functions of royalty, it is now almost ex elusively used in the United States and Euro pean countries in connection with judicial trib unals. The objects and powers of these judicial tribunals called courts in English-speaking countries, and probably in all lands where such institutions are free and independent of the executive, are: (1) The preservation of per sonal liberty, the enforcement of the criminal and penal laws, and the punishment of all in fractions thereof, and the conservation of the public peace, order and safety; (2) the preser vation of property rights, the adjudication of disputes and controversies between individuals, corporations and states, and the determination of all kinds of legal actions commonly known as civil suits.

The establishment of law courts, the growth and gradual increase of their jurisdiction and power has marked, step by step, the advance of civilization, the increase of personal liberty, the rights of individuals to enjoy and to hold prop erty, and to maintain suits for the preservation and enforcement of their civil liberties and the free and unrestrained enjoyment of their personal and real property. Almost every gain in these directions made by the courts of Great Britain in the increase of their authority and jurisdiction represented the acquirement by in dividuals of increased liberty and the enjoy meht of their property rights, coupled with the curtailing of the prerogatives of the king, springing from the acquisition by the people of some great charter enlarging their liberties.

English In very early days in England and in many of the European coun tries, all of the power and jurisdiction now held by the law courts was vested in and exer cised by the king or the executive ruler, cotn moray described as the throne. This was also true in the primitive administration of law among the ancients. Such judicial powers were exercised by the executive in early Rome and were delegated to many of the subordinate offi cers. In the states of Greece the king or chief magistrate was not alone a military leader, but was also the chief judicial officer, as is the ease now in Oriental autocracies where the sovereign appoints deputies to act as judges subject to his right of review on appeal. This

is the system in vogue at the present time in Persia and Turkey, where the deputies of the shah and the sultan respectively govern the various states and administer the laws. The early English kings held almost absolute judicial power; they were to all intents and purposes courts of law. The sole executive and judicial authority over whatever law there was, free from the will of the king, vested in his person and was exercised by him to such an extent that individual ownership and personal liberties were subordinated to his absolute whim and caprice. As a legal fiction the king was con sidered, even after the courts had assumed a large measure of independence, the head of the court, and in such sense the king is so treated purely as a matter of fiction at the present time in England, for in that country and throughout Great Britain all writs run in the name of the king. That the administration of justite was one of the prerogatives of the English king in early times is clearly shown by the fact that the king himself sat on circuit even as late as the rule of Edward IV. Regular courts had then been established but authority was still vested in the king to participate personally in the busi ness of the courts. King James I exercised what has been frequently termed the last judi cial act of an English monarch when he settled the controversies between the courts of law and the Court of Chancery.

The first step toward the separation of the executive and judicial powers as jointly vested in the king came when King John was cotn pelled to sign the Magna Charta, or Great Char ter, in 1215. By the Great Charter the incon venience caused by the court following the king's person was remedied, as far as private litigation was concerned, by the provision that cotnmunia /docile — common pleas — should be held at some fixed place, and it was in this way that the Court of Common Pleas was estab lished in England and that the independence of the courts became a vested right of the people.

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