The adjective "cognizable" has two distinct (and unrelated) applications within the field of law. A cognizable claim or controversy is one that meets the basic criteria of viability for being tried or adjudicated before a particular tribunal. The term means that the claim or controversy is within the power or jurisdiction of a particular court to adjudicate.
Conversely, a "cognizable group " of jurors or potential jurors refers to that common trait or characteristic among them that is recognized as distinguishing them from others, such as race, ethnicity, and gender. Trial counsel are generally prohibited from eliminating jurors who are in the same cognizable group as that of a party or litigant through discriminatory PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES when that distinction is the basis for the challenge. In Batson v. Kentucky, 476 U.S. 79, 106 S.Ct. 1712, 90 L.Ed.2d 69, 54 USLW 4425 (U.S.Ky., Apr 30, 1986) (No. 84-6263), the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that prosecutors may not use peremptory challenges to exclude African Americans from a jury solely on the basis of race. Over the years, other cases have expanded the scope of protected or "cognizable groups" of jurors to include gender, religion, and socioeconomic status.