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An actual dispute between individuals who seek judicial resolution of their grievances that have arisen from a conflict of their alleged legal rights.

A controversy describes only civil litigation, which is intended to protect and enforce private rights. In contrast, the term case applies to both a civil action and a criminal prosecution, designed to enforce and safeguard the rights of the general public.

The judicial power of a court to provide redress of wrongs exists only when issues arise in a given situation that can be categorized as a case or controversy.

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


n. 1) disagreement, argument, or quarrel. 2) a dispute, which must be an actual contested issue between parties in order to be heard by a court. The United States Supreme Court particularly requires an "actual controversy" and avoids giving "what if" advisory opinions. (See: advisory opinion, collusion)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.

CONTROVERSY. A dispute arising between two or more persons. It differs from case, which includes all suits criminal as well as civil; whereas controversy is a civil and not a criminal proceeding. 2 Dall. R. 419, 431, 432; 1 Tuck. Bl. Com. App. 420, 421; Story, Const. Sec. 1668.
     2. By the constitution of the United States the judicial power shall extend to controversies to which the United States shall be a party. Art. 2, 1. The meaning to be attached to the word controversy in the constitution, is that above given.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
References in periodicals archive ?
Ian Bell struck 73 runs before being controversially dismissed lbw
But he is too short to lump on against a fighter who has beaten him already, controversially or not, and given the poor KO records of both men an Oakey points win would seem the best bet.
More controversially, William is shown bumping into tables and throwing up after getting drunk in a pub on his 16th birthday and raiding the wine cellars at Buckingham Palace.
Cole also had the ball in the back of the net, but it was controversially ruled out for offside.
Cosgrove slotted a pass from Paul Nugent home but the linesman controversially flagged for offside.
In the book Posner controversially ranks the top 100 intellectuals, by using the Internet to count the number of media mentions of anyone who commented on matters of general public concern between 1995 and 2000.
More controversially, WSTS expects the worldwide DRAM market to rebound this year, despite the fact that memory prices hit an all time low recently.
Moreover - and perhaps more controversially - he attributes involvement in the definition and practice of this poetics to the poems' authors themselves, proposing that "some early Italian poets composed their lyrics with an eye to the manuscript forms in which their poems would be copied and circulated" (xxi).
It demonstrated convincingly, but controversially, how political, economic, and labor market forces shape social responses to the mentally ill, mold psychiatric treatment philosophy, and influence the onset and course of one of the most common forms of mental illness.
Reaffirmation from federal officials that they will mail controversially explicit AIDS brochures to all U.S.
After the break, an offthe-ball tangle between Sean Gregan and Dave Martin resulted in the linesman controversially flagging for a penalty.