What is Jurisdiction?

Legal Definition
Jurisdiction (from the Latin ius, iuris meaning "law" and dicere meaning "to speak") is the practical authority granted to a legal body to administer justice within a defined area of responsibility, e.g., Michigan tax law. In the federations like USA, areas of jurisdiction apply to local, state, and federal levels; e.g. the court has jurisdiction to apply federal law.

Colloquially it is used to refer to the geographical area to which such authority applies, e.g. the court has jurisdiction over all of Colorado. The legal term refers only to the granted authority, not to a geographical area.

Jurisdiction draws its substance from public international law, conflict of laws, constitutional law, and the powers of the executive and legislative branches of government to allocate resources to best serve the needs of its native society.
-- Wikipedia
Legal Definition
  1. Power of a court to adjudicate cases and issue orders.
  2. Territory within which a court or government agency may properly exercise its power.See, e.g. Ruhrgas AG v. Marathon Oil Co. et al., 526 U.S. 574 (1999).

  3. jurisdiction: an overview
    One of the most fundamental questions of law is whether a given court has jurisdiction to preside over a given case. A jurisdictional question may be broken down into three components:

    1. whether there is jurisdiction over the person (in personam),
    2. whether there is jurisdiction over the subject matter, or res (in rem), and
    3. whether there is jurisdiction to render the particular judgment sought.
    4. The term jurisdiction is really synonymous with the word "power". Any court possesses jurisdiction over matters only to the extent granted to it by the Constitution, or legislation of the sovereignty on behalf of which it functions. The question of whether a given court has the power to determine a jurisdictional question is itself a jurisdictional question. Such a legal question is referred to as "jurisdiction to determine jurisdiction."

      Subject matter jurisdiction is the court's authority to decide the issue in controversy such as a contracts issue, or a civil rights issue. State courts have general jurisdiction, meaning that they can hear any controversy except those prohibited by state law (some states, for example, deny subject matter jurisdiction for a case that does not involve state citizens and did not take place in the state) and those allocated to federal courts of exclusive jurisdiction such as bankruptcy issues (see 28 U.S.C. § 1334). Federal courts have limited jurisdiction in that they can only hear cases that fall both within the scope defined by the Constitution in Article III Section 2 and Congressional statutes (See 28 U.S.C. §1251, §1253, §1331, §1332).

      Territorial jurisdiction is the court's power to bind the parties to the action. This law determines the scope of federal and state court power. State court territorial jurisdiction is determined by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's Fourteenth Amendment and the federal court territorial jurisdiction is determined by the Due Process Clause of the Constitution's Fifth Amendment.

      Other forms of jurisdiction include appellate jurisdiction (the power of one court to correct the errors of another, lower court), concurrent jurisdiction (the notion that two courts might share the power to hear cases of the same type, arising in the same place), and diversity jurisdiction (the power of Federal courts to hear cases in which the parties are from different states). An example showing the interplay of diversity jurisdiction with subject-matter jurisdiction is Grupo Dataflux v. Atlas Global Group, L. P. (02-1689), 541 U.S. 567 (2004)
Legal Definition
Practice. A power constitutionally conferred upon a judge or magistrate, to take cognizance of, and decide causes according to law, and to carry his sentence into execution. 6 Pet. 591; 9 John. 239. The tract of land or district within which a judge or magistrate has jurisdiction, is called his territory, and his power in relation to his territory is called his territorial jurisdiction.

2. Every act of jurisdiction exercised by a judge without his territory, either by pronouncing sentence or carrying it into execution, is null. An inferior court has no jurisdiction beyond what is expressly delegated. 1 Salk. 404, n.; Gilb. C. P. 188; 1 Saund. 73; 2 Lord Raym. 1311; and see Bac. Ab. Courts, &c., C, et seq; Bac. Ab. Pleas, E 2.

3. Jurisdiction is original, when it is conferred on the court in the first instance, which is called original jurisdiction; (q. v.) or it is appellate, which is when an appeal is given from the judgment of another court. Jurisdiction is also civil, where the subject-matter to be tried is not of a criminal nature; or criminal, where the court is to punish crimes. Some courts and magistrates have both civil and criminal jurisdiction. Jurisdiction is also concurrent, exclusive, or assistant. Concurrent jurisdiction is that which may be entertained by several courts. It is a rule that in cases of concurrent jurisdictions, that which is first seized of the case shall try it to the exclusion of the other. Exclusive jurisdiction is that which has alone the power to try or determine the Suit, action, or matter in dispute. assistant jurisdiction is that which is afforded by a court of chancery, in aid of a court of law; as, for example, by a bill of discovery, by the examination of witnesses de bene esse, or out of the jurisdiction of the court; by the perpetuation of the testimony of witnesses, and the like.

4. It is the law which gives jurisdiction; the consent of, parties, cannot, therefore, confer it, in a matter which the law excludes. 1 N. & M. 192; 3 M'Cord, 280; 1 Call. 55; 1 J. S. Marsh. 476; 1 Bibb, 263; Cooke, 27; Minor, 65; 3 Litt. 332; 6 Litt. 303; Kirby, 111; 1 Breese, 32; 2 Yerg. 441; 1 Const. R. 478. But where the court has jurisdiction of the matter, and the defendant has some privilege which exempts him from the jurisdiction, he may wave the privilege. 5 Cranch, 288; 1 Pet. 449; 8 Wheat. 699; 4 W. C. C. R. 84; 4 M'Cord, 79; 4 Mass. 593; Wright, 484. See Hardin, 448; 2 Wash. 213.

5. Courts of inferior jurisdiction must act within their jurisdiction, and so it must appear upon the record. 5 Cranch, 172 Pet. C. C. R. 36; 4 Dall. 11; 2 Mass. 213; 4 Mass. 122; 8 Mass. 86; 11 Mass. 513; Pr. Dec. 380; 2 Verm. 329; 3 Verm. 114; 10 Conn. 514; 4 John. 292; 3 Yerg. 355; Walker, 75; 9 Cowen, 227; 5 Har. & John. 36; 1 Bailey, 459; 2 Bailey, 267. But the legislature may, by a general or special law, provide otherwise. Pet. C. C. R. 36. Vide 1 Salk. 414; Bac. Ab. Courts, &c., C. D; Id. Prerogative, E 6; Merlin, Rep. h. t.; Ayl. Pat. 317, and the art. Competency. As to the force of municipal law beyond the territorial jurisdiction of the state, see Wheat. Intern. Law, part a, c. 2, §7, et seq.; Story, Confl. of Laws, c. 2; Huberus, lib. 1, t. 3; 13 Mass. R. 4 Pard. Dr. Com. part. 6, t. 7, c. 2, §1; and the articles Conflict of Laws; Courts of the United States. See generally, Bouv. Inst. Index, h. t.
-- Bouviers Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The power and authority constitutionally conferred upon (or constitutionally recognized as existing in) a court or Judge to pronounce the sentence of the law or to award the remedies provided by law, upon a state of facts, proved or admitted, referred to the tribunal for decision, and authorized by law to be the subject of investigation or action by that tribunal, and in favor of or against persons (or a res) who present themselves or who are brought, before the court in some manner sanctioned by law as proper and sufficient. 1 Black, Judgm. § 215. And see Nenno v. Railroad Co.., 105 Mo. App. 540, 80 S. W. 24; Ingram v. Fuson, 118 Ky. 882, 82 S. W. 606; Tod v. Crisman, 123 Iowa, 693, 99 N. W. 686; Harrigan v. Gllchrist, 121 Wis. 127, 99 N. W. 909; Wight-man v. Karsner, 20 Ala. 451; Reynolds v. Stockton, 140 U. S. 254, 11 Sup. Ct. 773, 35 L. Ed. 464; Templeton v. Ferguson, 89 Tex. 47, 33 S. W. 329; Succession of Weigel, 17 La. Ann. 70. Jurisdiction is a power constitutionally conferred upon a judge or magistrate to take cognisance of and determine causes according to law, and to carry his sentence into execution. In S. v. Arredondo, 6 Pet. 691, 8 L. Ed. 547; Yates v. Lansing, 9 Johns. (N. Y.) 413, 6 Am. Dec. 290; Johnson v. Jones, 2 Neb. 135. The authority of a court as distinguished from the other departments; judicial power considered with reference to its scope and extent as respects the questions and persons subject to it; power given by law to hear and decide controversies. Abbott. Jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine the subject-matter in controversy between parties to the suit; to adjudicate or exercise any judicial power over them. Rhode Island v. Massachusetts, 12 Pet 657, 717, 9 L. Ed. 1233. Jurisdiction is the power to hear and determine a cause; the authority by which judicial officers take cognizance of and decide causes. Brownsville v. Basse, 48 Tex. 440.
-- Black's Law Dictionary
Legal Definition
The right to adjudicate concerning the subject matter in a given case. See 29 Am. St. Rep. 82, note.
-- Ballentine's Law Dictionary