court of common pleas

Court of Common Pleas.

1. Hist. A superior court having jurisdiction of all real actions and common pleas (i.e., actions between subjects). • The Court was presided over by a chief justice with four (later five) puisne judges. In 1873 it became the Common Pleas Division of the High Court of Justice. In 1881 it merged into the Queen’s Bench Division.

2. An intermediate-level court in some states, such as Arkansas. [Cases: Courts 211.]

3. A trial court of general jurisdiction in some states, such as Ohio, Pennsylvania, and South Carolina. [Cases: Courts 150, 151, 153.]

— Also termed Court of Common Bench. — Abbr. C.P.

“Common pleas is the kings Court now held in Westminster hall, but in auncient time moveable, as appeareth by the statute called Magna charta…. [U]ntill the time that Henry the third granted the great charter, there were but two courts in all, called the Kings courts: whereof one was the Exchequer, and the other, the kings bench, which was then called (curia Domini regis) and (aula regis) because it followed the court or king: and that upon the grant of that charter, the court of common pleas was erected and setled in one place certaine: viz. at Westminster…. All civill causes both reall and personall are, or were in former times, tryed in this court, according to the strict lawe of the realme: and by Fortescue, cap. 50 it seemeth to have bene the onely court for reall causes.” John Cowell, The Interpreter (1607).


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