Common Pleas

Also found in: Dictionary, Wikipedia.

Common Pleas

Trial-level courts of general jurisdiction. One of the royal common-law courts in England existing since the beginning of the thirteenth century and developing from the Curia Regis, or the King's Court.In the United States only Pennsylvania has courts of common pleas with the authority to hear all civil and criminal cases. In most states courts of common pleas have been abolished and their jurisdiction transferred to district, circuit, or superior courts.

For some time after the Norman Conquest of England in 1066, parties seeking justice from the king were greatly inconvenienced by the fact that the king was constantly on the move and frequently abroad. Scholars have speculated that the king was attempting to consolidate his power and that feeding and financing the royal household could be accomplished only by continually moving throughout the land. Parties could submit a dispute to a court held coram rege, before the king himself, only by pursuing the king in his travels. The barons finally forced the issue with King John in 1215 when they insisted on the following provision in the Magna Charta: "Common Pleas shall not follow our court but shall be held in some certain place." That certain place came to be Westminster, where some legal business was already being handled by the end of the twelfth century. There the Court of Common Pleas, also called Common Bench, heard all real actions and common pleas—actions between subjects that did not involve royal interests. It had no authority to hear criminal matters which were the special prerogative of the King's Bench. The Court of Common Pleas consisted of a chief justice and four (later five) associate justices. Appeals and their decisions were taken to the King's Bench but later to the Exchequer. The court was consolidated with the other high courts of England by the Judicature Acts in the late nineteenth century.

West's Encyclopedia of American Law, edition 2. Copyright 2008 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.

COMMON PLEAS. The name of a court having jurisdiction generally of civil actions. For a historical account of the origin of this court in England, see Boote's Suit at Law, 1 to 10. Vide Common Bench and Bench.
     2. By common pleas, is also understood, such pleas or actions as are brought by private persons against private persons; or by the government, when the cause of action is of a civil nature. In England, whence we derived this phrase, common pleas are so called to distinguish them from pleas of the crown. (q.v.)

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
If an offender chooses to accept a negotiated guilty plea before the Court of Common Pleas, the case can be fast-tracked to be scheduled within about one month's time before a specially-convened Common Pleas Court session.
The town escalated the dispute in May by seeking a court-ordered injunction against the quarry from the Bucks County Court of Common Pleas.
reported that requests for pothole repairs are the most common pleas to local authorities across Greater Manchester.
The Episcopal Church and the Episcopal Church in South Carolina have petitioned the 1st Circuit Court of Common Pleas to order a full accounting of all assets held by the Protestant Episcopal Church in the Diocese of South Carolina.
The Court of Common Pleas of Allegheny County has awarded a subsidiary of Global safety equipment manufacturer, MSA Safety Incorporated (NYSE: MSA), USD46.9m in damages related to an insurance coverage lawsuit filed in 2010.
Run by the Campaign for Real Ale (CAMRA) in association with Historic England and the Victorian Society, the popular pub was crowned the winner in both the Refurbishment and Conservation categories, while The Chief Justice of the Common Pleas at Keswick, in Cumbria, was named the best Conversion to Pub Use.
The Superior Court affirmed the judgment in favor of the plaintiffs entered June 1, 2011 in the Court of Common Pleas of Chester County.
Padge Victoria Windslowe's third-degree murder trial is expected to start in Philadelphia Common Pleas Court.
In July, Common Pleas Court Judge Ellen Ceisler agreed, saying that the administration did not have the power to levy an amusement tax on a venue's "interior activity"--that is, anything other than the entry fee.
Common Pleas Court Judge Benjamin Lerner sentenced Williams to five to 10 years on her guilty plea to two counts of third-degree murder.
Lenfest filed a brief in Philadelphia Court of Common Pleas, calling for an open auction of General Interstate.