nisi prius

[nahy-sahy prahy-uhs, nee-see pree-uhs]
noun Law.
Also called nisi prius court. a trial court for the hearing of civil cases before a judge and jury.
British Law.
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.
the clause with the words “nisi prius” introducing this writ.
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

nisi-prius, adjective Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2014.
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World English Dictionary
nisi prius (ˈpraɪəs)
1.  English legal history
 a.  a direction that a case be brought up to Westminster for trial before a single judge and a jury
 b.  the writ giving this direction
 c.  trial before the justices taking the assizes
2.  (in the US) a court where civil actions are tried by a single judge sitting with a jury, as distinguished from an appellate court
[C15: from Latin: unless previously]

Collins English Dictionary - Complete & Unabridged 10th Edition
2009 © William Collins Sons & Co. Ltd. 1979, 1986 © HarperCollins
Publishers 1998, 2000, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2009
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Example sentences
The judgments of nisi prius courts generally are not precedential as that term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.
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