A court of high antiquity in England, incident to the jurisdiction of the sheriff. It is not a court of record, but may hold pleas of debt or damages, under the value of forty shillings. The freeholders of the county (anciently termed the “suitors” of the court) are the real judges in this court, and the sheriff is the ministerial officer. See 3 Bl. Comm. 35. 30; 3 Steph. Comm. 395. But in modern English law the name is appropriated to a system of tribunals established by the statute 9 & 10 Vict. c. 95, having a limited jurisdiction, principally for the recovery of small debts. It is also the name of certain tribunals of limited jurisdiction in the countv of Middlesex, established under the statute 2i Geo. II. c. 33. In American law. The name is used in many of the states to designate the ordinary courts of record having jurisdiction for trials at nisi prius. Their powers generally comprise ordinary civil jurisdiction, also the charge and care of persons and estates coming within legal guardianship, a limited criminal jurisdiction, appellate jurisdicton over justices of the peace, etc.
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