Three-Judge Courts Law and Legal Definition

In the U.S., three-Judge courts are special courts designated by the Congress, which consist of a panel of three judges. Three-judge courts deal with special categories of cases requiring extraordinary safeguard against arbitrary action. Examples involve suits to enjoin enforcement of state or federal statutes, or state administrative orders on constitutional grounds. Pursuant to 28 USCS § 2284, a district court of three judges is convened when required by act of Congress, or when an action is filed challenging the constitutionality of the apportionment of congressional districts or the apportionment of any statewide legislative body.

A three judge court is constituted where an injunctive relief is sought to restrain the enforcement or execution of a state statute by any officer of the state.

A three judge court in a proper case has the authority to dissolve itself and leave the action pending before the single judge to whom the application was first presented, or the successor to that judge. [Wilder v. Sugarman, 1977 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14279 (S.D.N.Y. 1977)]