Practice. A court is an incorporeal political being, which requires for its existence, the presence of the judges, or a competent number of them, and a clerk or prothonotary, at the time during which, and at the place where it is by law authorized to be held; and the performance of some public act
, indicative of a design to perform the functions of a court.
2. In another sense, the judges, clerk, or prothonotary, counsellors and ministerial officers, are said to constitute the court.
3. According to Lord, Coke, a court is a place where justice is judicially administered. Co. Litt. 58, a.
4. The judges, when duly convened, are also called the court. Vide 6 Vin. Ab. 484; Wheat . Dig. 127; Merl. Rep. h. t.; 3 Com. Dig. 300; 8 Id. 386; Dane's Ab. Index, h. t.; Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.
5. It sometimes happens that the judges composing a court are equally divided
on questions discussed before them. It has been decided, that when such is the case on an appeal or writ of error, the judgment or decree is affirmed. 10 Wheat. 66
; 11 Id. 59. If it occurs on a motion in arrest of judgment
, a judgment is to be entered on the verdict. 2 Dall. Rep. 388. If on a motion for a new trial
, the motion is rejected. 6 Wheat. 542. If on a motion to enter judgment on a verdict, the judgment is entered. 6 Binn. 100. In England, if the house of lords
be equally divided on a writ of error, the judgment of the court below is affirmed. 1 Arch. Pr. 235. So in Cam. Scacc. 1 Arch. Pr. 240. But in error coram nobis, no judgment can be given if the judges are equally divided, except by consent. 1 Arch. Pr. 246. When the judges are equally divided on the admission of testimony, it cannot be received. But see
3 Yeates, 171. Also, 2 Bin. 173; 3 Bin. 113 4 Bin. 157; 1 Johns. Rep. 118 4 Wash. C. C. Rep. 332, 3. See Division of Opinion.
6. Courts are of various kinds. When considered as to their powers, they are of record and not of record; Bac. Ab. Courts, D; when compared. to each other, they are supreme, superior, and inferior, Id.; when examined as to their original jurisdiction, they are civil or criminal; when viewed as to their territorial jurisdiction
, they are central or local; when divided as to their object, they are courts of law, courts of equity, courts martial, admiralty courts, and ecclesiastical courts
. They are also courts of original jurisdiction, courts of error, and courts of appeal. Vide Open Court
7. Courts of record cannot be deprived of their jurisdiction except by express negative words. 9 Serg. & R. 298; 3 Yeates, 479 2 Burr. 1042 1 Wm. Bl. Rep. 285. And such a court is the court of common pleas in Pennsylvania. 6 Serg. & R. 246.
8. Courts of equity are not, in general, courts of record. Their decrees touch the person, not lands. or goods. 3 Caines, 36. Yet, as to personalty, their decrees are equal to a judgment; 2. Madd. Chan. 355; 2 Salk., 507; 1 Ver. 214; 3 Caines, 35; and have preference according to priority. 3 P. Wms. 401 n.; Cas. Temp. Talb. 217; 4 Bro. P. C. 287; 4 Johns. Chan. Cas. 638. They are also conclusive between the parties. 6 Wheat. 109
. Assumpsit will lie on a decree of a foreign court of chancery for a sum certain
; 1 Campb. Rep. 253, per Lord Kenyon; but not for a sum not ascertained. 3 Caines, 37, (n.) In Pennsylvania, an action at law
will lie on a decree of a court of chancery, but the pleas nil debet
and nultiel record cannot be pleaded in such an action. 9 Serg. & R. 258.