Nisi prius

Definitions

  • Webster's Revised Unabridged Dictionary
    • Nisi prius (Law) unless before; -- a phrase applied to terms of court, held generally by a single judge, with a jury, for the trial of civil causes. The term originated in a legal fiction. An issue of fact being made up, it is, according to the English practice, appointed by the entry on the record, or written proceedings, to be tried by a jury from the county of which the proceedings are dated, at Westminster, unless before the day appointed (nisi prius) the judges shall have come to the county in question (which they always do) and there try the cause. See In banc, under Banc.
    • ***
Chambers's Twentieth Century Dictionary
    • Nisi prius the name usually given in England to the sittings of juries in civil cases—from the first two words of the old Latin writ summoning the juries to appear at Westminster unless, before the day appointed, the judges shall have come to the county
    • ***

Usage

In literature:

Such a man is wasted before juries and in the pettiness of nisi prius.
"Sketches In The House (1893)" by T. P. O'Connor
Why, I was reading my Widgery on Nisi Prius Evidence when you came in.
"The Girl on the Boat" by Pelham Grenville Wodehouse
Mr. Justice Heath presided in the Nisi Prius.
"The History of Margaret Catchpole" by Richard Cobbold
The senior judge proceeded to the criminal court; the other, as on the Monday, took his place in the Nisi Prius.
"Mildred Arkell, (Vol 3 of 3)" by Ellen Wood
When quite sober, he was particularly good as a Nisi Prius judge.
"Atrocious Judges" by John Campbell, Baron Campbell
The Chief Justice sits at nisi prius more often than upon appeal.
"A Philadelphia Lawyer in the London Courts" by Thomas Leaming
***