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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.
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. 2015.
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Examples from the web for nisi prius
  • The judgments of nisi prius courts generally are not precedential as that term is conventionally understood.
  • In the second place, the nisi prius roll is barren of any evidence that the parked vehicles presented a realistic danger.
  • The next step is for the nisi prius court to test the pleading's merit.
  • The nisi prius roll does not verify this autopsy report.
  • Indeed, the nisi prius roll is replete with evidence suggesting this unhappy conclusion.
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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