What is Court?

Legal Definition
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.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
In legislation. A legislative assembly. Parliament is called in the old books a court of the king, nobility, and commons assembled. Finch, Law, b. 4, c. 1, p. 233; Fleta, lib. 2, c. 2. This meaning of the word has been retained in the titles of some deliberative bodies, such as the general court of Massachusetts, (the legislature.) In international law. The person and suite of the sovereign; the place where the sovereign sojourns with his regal retinue, wherever that may bs. The English government is spoken of in diplomacy as the court of St. James, 'because the palace of St James is the official palace. In practice. An organ of the government, belonging to the judicial department, whose function is the application of the laws to controversies brought before it and the public administration of justice. White County v. Gwin, 136 Ind. 562, 36 N. E. 237, 22 In R. A. 402. The presence of a sufficient number of the members of such a body regularly cenvened in an authorized place at an appointed time, engaged in the full and regular performance of its functions. Brumley v. State, 20 Aria 77. A court may be more particularly described as an organized body with defined powers, meeting at certain times and places for the hearing and decision of causes and other matters brought before it, and aided in this, its proper business, by its proper officers, viz., attorneys and counsel to present and manage the business, cletks to record and attest its acts and decisions, and ministerial officers to execute its commande, and secure due order in its proceedings. Ex parte Gardner, 22 Nev. 280, 39 Pac. 570. The place where Justice is judicially administered. Co. Litt. 58a; 3 Bl. Comm. 23. Railroad Ch v. Harden, 113 Ga. 456, 38 S. Bl 950. The judge, or the body of Judges, presiding over a court The words "court" and "judge," or "judges," are frequently used in our statutes as synonymous. When used with reference to orders made by the court or judges, they are to be so understood. State v. Caywood, 96 Iowa, 367, 65 N. W. 385; Michigan Cent. R. Co. v. Northern Ind. R. Co.. 3 Ind. 239. Classification. Courts may be classified and divided acoording to several methods, the following being the more usuui: Courts of record and courts not of record; the former being those whose acts and judicial proceedings are enrolled, or recorded, for a perpetuui memory and testimony, and which have power to fine or imprison for contempt. Error lies to their judgments, and they generally possess a seal. Courts not of record are those of inferior dignity, which have no power to fine or imprison, and in which the procoedings are not enrolled or recorded. 3 Bl. Comm. 24; 3 Steph. Comm. 383; The Thomas Fletcher (C. C.) 24 Fed. 481; Ex parte Thistleton, 52 Cal. 225; Thomas v. Robinson, 3 Wend. (N. Y.) 268; Erwin v. U. S. (D. C.) 37 Fed. 488, 2 In R. A., 229. ' Superior and inferior courts; the former being courts of general original jurisdiction in the first instance, and which exercise a control or supervision over a system of lower courts, either by appeal, error, or certiorari; the latter being courts of small or restricted Jurisdiction, and subject to the review or correction of higher courts. Sometimes the former term is used to denote a particular group or system of courts of high powers, and all others are called "inferior courts." To constitute a court a superior court as to any class of actions, within the common-law meaning of that term, its jurisdiction of such actions must be unconditional, so that the only thing requisite to enable the court to take cognizance of them is the acquisition of jurisdiction of the persons of the parties. Simons v. De Bare, 4 Bosw. (N. Y.) 647. An inferior court is a court whose judgments or decrees can be reviewed, on appeal or writ of error, by a higher tribunal, whether that tribunal be the circuit or supreme court. Nu-genuv. State, 18 Ala. 521. Civil and criminal courts; the former being such as are established for the adjudication of controversies between subject and subject, or the ascertainment, enforcoment, and redress of private rights; the latter, such as are charged with the administration of the criminal laws, and the punishment of wrongs to the public. Equity courts and law courts; the former being such as possess the jurisdiction of a chancellor, apply the rnies and principles of chancery law, and follow the procedure in equity; the latter, such as have no equitable powers, but administer justice according to the rules and practice of the common law. As to the division of courts according to their jurisdiction, see Jurisdiction. As to several names or kinds of courts not specifically described in the titles immediately following, see Arches Court, Appellate, Circuit Courts, Consistory Courts, County, Customary Court Baron, Ecclesiastical Courts, Federal Courts, High Commission Court, Instance Court, Justice Court, Justiciary Court, Maritime Court, Mayor's Court, Moot Court, Municipal Court, Orphans' Court, Police Court, Prerogative Court, Prize Court, Probate Court, Superior Courts, Supreme Court, and Surrogate's Court. As to court-hand, court-house, court-lands, court rolls, see those titles in their alphabetical order infra.
See also
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
Persons officially assembled under authority of law, for the administration of justice. See 13 Colo. 525, 16 Am. St. Rep. 224, 10 L. R. A. 790, 22 Pac. 820.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary