Equity Jurisdiction

Equity Jurisdiction in the United States

The power of a court to grant relief or remedy to a party seeking court assistance outside the principles of common law. Equity jurisdiction permits judgments based on perceptions of fairness that supplement common law doctrines. Relief is assistance extended by a court to an injured or aggrieved party that is justified by equitable considerations. A remedy is the specific means, such as an injunction, by which a court intervenes to protect a legal right or interest through its equity jurisdiction. In Brown v. Board of Education II (349 U.S. 294: 1955), for example, the Supreme Court mandated that lower federal courts issue relief decrees shaped by equitable principles. The Court characterized equity as having a practical flexibility in its approach to constructing remedies. The lower courts were to reconcile public and private needs with decrees framed by perceptions of fairness and justice. A show cause proceeding is a process in equity jurisdiction with the rules of equity applying. A show cause order may be issued by a court to require a party to appear and explain why an action should not take place. Anyone opposed to the action has an opportunity to express his or her position and produce supporting evidence. If the affected party does not appear or present acceptable reasons, the proposed show cause action will take place. The burden of proof is on the party required to show cause.

See Also

Appellate Jurisdiction (Judicial Organization) Original Jurisdiction (Judicial Organization).

Analysis and Relevance

Equity jurisdiction is needed because in some cases the

law is too rigid or unjust in its application. Equity jurisdiction is the power to hear certain kinds of civil cases using processes developed in the old chancery courts. Equity jurisdiction in the United States is placed in the same courts that possess jurisdiction over statutory and common law. In Great Britain, courts of equity are structurally separate from courts having jurisdiction over legal matters. As states adopted uniform rules of civil procedure, chancery courts disappeared as separate entities in the United States. Considerations of equity in American courts protect against injustices occurring through proper but too rigid application of common law principles or where gaps exist in the common law.

Notes and References

  1. Definition of Equity Jurisdiction from the American Law Dictionary, 1991, California

Equity Jurisdiction: Open and Free Legal Research of US Law

Federal Primary Materials

The U.S. federal government system consists of executive, legislative, and judicial branches, each of which creates information that can be the subject of legal research about Equity Jurisdiction. This part provides references, in relation to Equity Jurisdiction, to the legislative process, the federal judiciary, and the primary sources of federal law (cases, statutes, and regulations).

Federal primary materials about Equity Jurisdiction by content types:

Laws and Regulations

US Constitution
Federal Statutory Codes and Legislation

Federal Case Law and Court Materials

U.S. Courts of Appeals
United States courts of appeals, inclouding bankruptcy courts and bankcruptcy appellate panels:

Federal Administrative Materials and Resources

Presidential Materials

Materials that emanate from the President’s lawmaking function include executive orders for officers in departments and agencies and proclamations for announcing ceremonial or commemorative policies. Presidential materials available include:

Executive Materials

Federal Legislative History Materials

Legislative history traces the legislative process of a particular bill (about Equity Jurisdiction and other subjects) for the main purpose of determining the legislators’ intent behind the enactment of a law to explain or clarify ambiguities in the language or the perceived meaning of that law (about Equity Jurisdiction or other topics), or locating the current status of a bill and monitoring its progress.

State Administrative Materials and Resources

State regulations are rules and procedures promulgated by state agencies (which may apply to Equity Jurisdiction and other topics); they are a binding source of law. In addition to promulgating regulations, state administrative boards and agencies often have judicial or quasi-judicial authority and may issue administrative decisions affecting Equity Jurisdiction. Finding these decisions can be challenging. In many cases, researchers about Equity Jurisdiction should check state agency web sites for their regulations, decisions, forms, and other information of interest.

State rules and regulations are found in codes of regulations and administrative codes (official compilation of all rules and regulations, organized by subject matter). Search here:

State opinions of the Attorney General (official written advisory opinions on issues of state law related to Equity Jurisdiction when formerly requested by a designated government officer):

Tools and Forms

Law in Other Regions

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