Meaning of nisi prius

ni•si pri•us

Pronunciation: (nī'sī prī'us, nē'sē prē'us), [key]
— Law. Law.
  1. Also calleda trial court for the hearing of civil cases before a judge and jury.
    1. a writ commanding a sheriff of a county to summon a jury and bring it to the court in Westminster on a certain day, unless the judges of assizes previously came to that county.
    2. the clause with the words “nisi prius” introducing this writ.
    3. the system of judicial circuits to which judges are assigned for local trials of civil and criminal cases.
Random House Unabridged Dictionary, Copyright © 1997, by Random House, Inc., on Infoplease.