ratable value

Circuit court

Circuit court is the name of court systems in several common law jurisdictions. Originally it meant a court that would hold sessions in multiple locations within its judicial district; the judge or judges would travel in a circuit in order to adjudicate cases across a wide area. Especially on the United States frontier, a judge might travel alone on horseback along with a group of lawyers. Abraham Lincoln was one such attorney who would ride the circuit in Illinois. In more settled areas, a stagecoach would be used. Eventually the legal caseload in a county would become great enough for a local judiciary. Most of these local judicial circuits have been thus replaced.

Republic of Ireland

In the Republic of Ireland a "circuit court" is part of the Courts of First Instance, which replaced the Assize Court used before the Irish Free State reformed the justice system. The circuit court system includes a judge and jury system, but is not allowed to hear, among others, murder, treason or rape cases. The civil jurisdiction of the court is limited to damages of €38,092 and actions involving land with a ratable value of less than €254 (Land value worth approx. €3 million).

United States

Federal courts

The United States circuit courts were United States federal courts established in each federal judicial district. These circuit courts exercised both original (first instance) and appellate jurisdiction. They existed from 1789 to 1912. The original jurisdiction formerly exercised by the United States circuit courts is now exercised by the United States district courts, and their appellate jurisdiction is now exercised by the United States courts of appeals.

The name "circuit court" is also informally used to refer to the existing United States court of appeals. Those courts were officially known as United States circuit courts of appeals from their establishment in 1894 until their name was changed to United States courts of appeals in 1947.

State courts

In some U.S. states, including Illinois, Kentucky, Oregon, and many of the southern states, the state court of superior general original jurisdiction is known as the "circuit court".

In Virginia, for example, a circuit court is a court of record that has appellate jurisdiction over a county's general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court and original jurisdiction over major civil cases and all the county's felony cases. A circuit court has the power to issue death sentences and impanel grand juries. The court's decisions become legal precedents.

In many states, such as Missouri, a judicial circuit can encompass one or more counties. Each circuit court can have several divisions, including circuit, associate, small claims, probate, family or drug court. Each division hears cases within its particular area of subject-matter jurisdiction, and jurisdiction is based on the size or type of a civil claim, or the severity or type of a criminal charge. Drug court, for example, hears only drug-related criminal cases.

England and Wales

England and Wales is divided into six regions or Circuits for the purposes of the administration of justice.

  • Northern Circuit
  • North Eastern Circuit
  • Wales and Chester Circuit (also known as Wales and Cheshire)
  • Midland Circuit
  • Western Circuit
  • South Eastern Circuit .

The system is overseen by the Lord Chancellor. The membership consists of High Court Judges, Circuit Judges, District Judges, law practitioners and academic lawyers. The Circuits also form the basis for administration of the Bar in England and Wales. The Circuit Bars are represented on the Bar Council through the Circuit Leaders. .

Western Circuit

The Western Circuit covers an area from just west of Guildford to the tip of Cornwall. The Wine Treasurer is a traditional title for the person in charge of social arrangements.

The circuit office is run by the circuit secretary in Winchester. A newsletter is published each term.

The Circuit has published three books, Pie Powder; Circuit Ghosts; and Recollections of the Western Circuit

The Wales and Chester circuit has been disbanded following the Government of Wales Act 2006. Wales now has its own circuit in readiness for any 'Welsh laws' passed by the National Assembly for Wales


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