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Nisi Prius

term, court and judges

NISI PRIUS (Lat., unless before). A term applied to certain trial emirts, consisting of one judge and a jury, \Odell have jurisdiction for the trial of civil cases. The term originated in England through the practice of inserting in writs of venire (q.v.). by which jurors were summoned. a clause directing them to appear at the Court of Common Pleas at Westminster on a certain date, unless before (nisi mitts) that time one of the judges in Eyre (circuit) shoats hold court in their county. It also be came common, when eases from a distant county were eommenced at Westminster, to fix a cer tain day on which they were to be tried unless before that time court was held in that coun ty, and this was entered on the record. being known as the 'Nisi /wins clause.' This practice was sanctioned by the statute of 13 Edw. I., e. 30. known as the "Statute of Nisi Prins." The sessions held by these circuit judges came to be known as Nisi Prins Courts, and this continued until after the sittings of the judges became fixed and certain, when the alternative phrase was omitted from the venire: and thereafter the use of the term as applied to the courts was gradually discontinued. To-day the cases tried

before the judges of the King's Bench Division of the high Court of Justice in London are known as nisi pries actions, and this seems to be the only use of the term which has judicial sanction in England at present, although in the country districts the name is still popularly ap plied to the proceedings in the civil courts held in the various circuits under the .Tudicature Acts (Tv.). In a of the United States the term is applied to certain civil courts. the ses sions of which are held by judges who travel from one county to :mother, in a fixed circuit of several counties, during the year: but the orig inal significance of the term has become obso lete. See CIRCUIT; COURT: JUDICATURE ACTS. and consult the authorities there referred to.