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The scope of a specific court's authority. A court must have authority to review the legal issues (subject matter jurisdiction) and to compel the parties to respect its decision (personal jurisdiction). Further, a court's decision in a particular case sets precedent for all similar cases arising within the court's geographic boundaries (geographic jurisdiction).

Definition reprinted with permission from Committee on Psychiatry and Law, of the Group for the Advancement of Psychiatry: Mental Health Professional and the Legal System