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nisi prius

[nahy-sahy prahy-uh s, nee-see pree-uh s] /ˈnaɪ saɪ ˈpraɪ əs, ˈni si ˈpri əs/
noun, Law.
Also called nisi prius court. a trial court for the hearing of civil cases before a judge and jury.
British Law.
  1. a writ commanding a sheriff of a county to summon a jury and bring it to the court in Westminster on a certain day, unless the judges of assizes previously came to that county.
  2. the clause with the words “nisi prius” introducing this writ.
  3. the system of judicial circuits to which judges are assigned for local trials of civil and criminal cases.
Origin of nisi prius
1300-50; Middle English < Latin: literally, unless previously, unless before
Related forms
nisi-prius, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.
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British Dictionary definitions for nisi prius

nisi prius

(English legal history)
  1. a direction that a case be brought up to Westminster for trial before a single judge and a jury
  2. the writ giving this direction
  3. trial before the justices taking the assizes
(in the US) a court where civil actions are tried by a single judge sitting with a jury, as distinguished from an appellate court
Word Origin
C15: from Latin: unless previously
Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 2012 Digital Edition
© William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2012
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