general jurisdiction
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{{Globalize, article, USA, 2name=the United States, date=December 2010 A
court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''Sta ...

court
of general jurisdiction is a court with authority to hear cases of all kinds –
criminal In ordinary language, a crime is an unlawful act punishable by a state State may refer to: Arts, entertainment, and media Literature * ''State Magazine'', a monthly magazine published by the U.S. Department of State * The State (newspaper ...
,
civil Civil may refer to: *Civic virtue, or civility *Civil action, or lawsuit *Civil affairs *Civil and political rights *Civil disobedience *Civil engineering *Civil (journalism), a platform for independent journalism *Civilian, someone not a member ...
,
family In human society A society is a Social group, group of individuals involved in persistent Social relation, social interaction, or a large social group sharing the same spatial or social territory, typically subject to the same Politic ...
,
probate Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is "proved" in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy Intest ...
, and so forth.


United States

All federal courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. Many
U.S. state In the United States The United States of America (U.S.A. or USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US) or America, is a country Continental United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state ...
s have divided their courts between criminal and civil, with some making further divisions, assigning
probate Probate is the judicial process whereby a will is "proved" in a court of law and accepted as a valid public document that is the true last testament of the deceased, or whereby the estate is settled according to the laws of intestacy Intest ...
,
family law Family law (also called matrimonial law or the ''law of domestic relations'') is an area of the law Law is a system A system is a group of Interaction, interacting or interrelated elements that act according to a set of rules to for ...
, and juvenile cases, for example, to specialized courts.


General jurisdiction and judicial immunity

One significant effect of the classification of a court is the liability that a
judge A judge is a person who presides over court A court is any person or institution, often as a government A government is the system or group of people governing an organized community, generally a State (polity), state. In th ...

judge
from that court might face for stepping beyond the bounds of that court. Judges are able to claim
judicial immunity Judicial immunity is a form of sovereign immunity, which protects judges and others employed by the judiciary from liability resulting from their judicial actions. Though judges have immunity from lawsuit, in constitutional democracies judicial m ...
for acts that are not completely beyond their jurisdiction. For example, if a probate judge were to sentence a person to jail, that judge would not have immunity and could be sued because a probate judge has no jurisdiction to effect a criminal sentence. However, a judge in a court of general jurisdiction who happened to be overseeing a probate case ''would'' be immune from suit for sending a party to jail, because handing down a criminal sentence is not completely beyond the jurisdiction of such a judge. In the United States, this principle was established by the
Supreme Court A supreme court is the highest court A court is any person or institution, often as a government institution, with the authority to Adjudication, adjudicate legal disputes between Party (law), parties and carry out the administration of just ...

Supreme Court
in '' Stump v. Sparkman'', 435 U.S. 349 (1978). The Court found in that case that an
Indiana Indiana () is a U.S. state in the Midwestern United States, Midwestern United States. It is the List of U.S. states and territories by area, 38th-largest by area and the List of U.S. states and territories by population, 17th-most populous o ...

Indiana
judge was immune from a suit brought by a young woman whom the judge had ordered to be sterilized, at the behest of the woman's mother. Because the Indiana court was a court of general jurisdiction, and no law of Indiana expressly prohibited the judge from issuing such an order, the Supreme Court found that the order was not completely beyond the jurisdiction of that judge.


See also

*
Limited jurisdiction Limited jurisdiction, or special jurisdiction, is the court's jurisdiction Jurisdiction (from Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language A classical language is a language A language is a structured system of communication ...
*
Subject-matter jurisdiction Subject-matter jurisdiction (also called jurisdiction ''ratione materiae')'' is the authority of a court to hear cases of a particular type or cases relating to a specific subject matter. For instance, bankruptcy court only has the authority ...
Jurisdiction