General Jurisdiction Law and Legal Definition

General Jurisdiction is the court's authority to hear all kinds of cases, which arise within its geographic area. Therefore a court of general jurisdiction is one that can hear different types of cases like a tort case, a contracts law case, or any number of other related cases. The court is not limited, as long as it has personal jurisdiction over the parties. One significant effect of such classification is that regarding the liability of a judge on stepping beyond the bounds of that court. For example, if a probate court judge sentences a person to jail, that judge would not have immunity and could be sued because a probate judge has no jurisdiction to effect a criminal sentence. However, a judge in a court of general jurisdiction who happened to be overseeing a probate case would be immune from suit for sending a party to jail, because handing down a criminal sentence is not completely beyond the jurisdiction of such a judge.

General jurisdiction can also refer to a court's authority to hear all claims against a defendant, at the place of the defendant's domicile or the place of service, without any showing that a connection exists between the claims and the forum state.