– A –
Adjudication — Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree. Also the judgment given.
Administrative agencies — Agencies created by the legislative branch of government to administer laws pertaining to specific areas such as taxes, transportation, and labor.
ADR — See Alternative dispute resolution.
Advance directive — See Living Will.
Affidavit — A voluntary, written, or printed declaration of facts, confirmed by oath of the party making it before a person with authority to administer the oath.
Allegation — The assertion, declaration or statement of a party to a case, made in a pleading.
Alternative dispute resolution — A process for settling disputes without litigation, such as arbitration, mediation, or negotiation. Also known as ADR.
Answer — In a civil case, the defendant’s written response to the plaintiff’s complaint is called an answer. It must be filed within a specified period of time, and it either admits to or (more typically) denies the factual or legal basis for liability.
Appeal — A request to a supervisory court, usually composed of a panel of judges, to overturn the legal ruling of a lower court.
Appearance — The formal act of coming into court as a party to a suit, either in person or through an attorney.
Appellant — The party appealing a decision or judgment to a higher court.
Appellate court — A court having jurisdiction to hear appeals and review a trial court’s procedure.
Appellee — The party against whom an appeal is taken.
Arbitration — The submission of a dispute to an impartial chosen by the parties to the dispute, who usually agree in advance to abide by the arbitrator’s award following a hearing.
Arbitrator — An impartial person chosen by the parties in a dispute who hears the evidence concerning the dispute and issues a decision resolving the dispute.
Attachment — A lien on property or assets to hold it to pay or satisfy any final judgment.
Attorney of record — Attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case.
Articles of incorporation — A document that must be filed with a state in order to incorporate. Among the things, it typically must include the name and address of the corporation, its general purpose and the number and type of shares of stock to be issued.
– B –
Bankruptcy — A federal legal proceeding in which a debtor may be released from or discharged from debts, sometimes by paying a portion of each debt.
Bar — A term meaning lawyers or lawyer associations.
Breach of contract — A term referring to a party’s failure, without legal excuse, to perform a promise that forms all or part of an enforceable agreement.
Brief — A written argument by counsel arguing a case, which contains a summary of the facts of the case, pertinent laws, and an argument of how the law applies to the fact situation.
Burden of proof — In a court case, the responsibility of proving a point (the burden of proof); which side must establish a point or points.
– C –
Case conference — A meeting scheduled by the court to review the case.
Case file — The court file containing papers submitted in a case.
Case law — Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts. (Also known as common law.)
Cause of action — The fact or facts giving a person the right to legal relief in court.
Certiorari — When a higher court agrees to review the decision of a lower court.
Civil law, or Civil action — A legal case brought to enforce, redress or protect a private or civil right, usually between private parties or businesses.
Class action — A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.
Commercial litigation — Virtually every type of dispute that can arise in the business context, including breach of contract cases, partnership and joint venture disputes, class actions, business torts, civil RICO claims, breach of fiduciary duty allegations, and shareholder issues.
Common law — Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts. (Also known as case law.)
Compensatory damages — Money awarded to reimburse for actual costs, such as medical bills and lost wages, and also for things harder to measure, such as pain and suffering.
Complaint — The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit, stating the facts and identifying the action the court is asked to take.
Complainant — The party who complains or sues, by applying to the court for legal redress. (Also called the plaintiff or petitioner.)
Conciliation — A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps lower tensions, improve communications, and explore possible solutions. Conciliation is similar to mediation, but may be less formal.
Consideration — A legal term in contract law where one party agrees to do something in return for something of value the other party agrees to give him, such as money, goods, property, etc.
Contempt of court — Willful disobedience of a judge’s command or of an official court order. An action that interferes with a judge’s ability to administer justice or that insults the dignity of the court. Disrespectful comments to the judge or a failure to heed a judge’s orders could be considered contempt of court. A person found in contempt of court can face financial sanctions and, in some cases, jail time.
Contingency fee — A fee arrangement in which the lawyer is paid out of any damages that are awarded. Typically, the lawyer gets between one-fourth and one-third. If no damages are awarded, there is no fee, but the client still may have to pay filing fees, costs for the lawyer’s investigation of the case, etc. Also called a contingent fee.
Continuance — The postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.
Contract — A legally enforceable written or oral agreement between two or more competent parties made orally or in writing. Some contracts must be in writing to be enforceable in court.
Copyright — A person’s right to prevent others from copying works that he or she has written, authored or otherwise created.
Corporation — An independent legal entity formed under state law to conduct a business or other activity.
Counsel — A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.
Counterclaim — A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.
Court costs — The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than attorney’s fees, which may be awarded to the successful party (recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.
Covenant — A written agreement between two or more parties in which one party agrees to do or not do some specified act, and the other party agrees to compensate the other for such performance or nonperformance.
Court reporter — A person who transcribes testimony during court proceedings, a deposition, or other trial-related proceeding.
Crime — An act in violation of the penal laws of a state or the United States.
Criminal justice system — The network of courts and tribunals dealing with criminal law and its enforcement.
Cross-examination — Questioning by a party or the attorney of an adverse party or a witness.
– D –
Damages — Money awarded by a court to a person injured by another person.
Deed — A written legal document that describes a piece of property and outlines its boundaries.
Defendant — The person defending or denying a lawsuit (or the accused in a criminal case).
Default — Failure of the defendant to appear and answer the summons and complaint.
Default judgment — A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the complaint or charges.
Demand — A communication stating a need, requirement or entitlement, such as a right to payment or performance under a contract by one party against another.
Deposition — Testimony of a witness or a party taken under oath outside the courtroom, the transcript of which becomes a part of the court’s file.
Discovery — A process prior to a trial in which each side obtains facts and information about the case from the other side and from other sources.
Dismissal — The termination of a lawsuit by a court’s finding that it should not be permitted to proceed.
Dismissal with prejudice — When a case is dismissed for good reason and the plaintiff is barred from bringing an action on the same claim.
Dismissal without prejudice — When a case is dismissed but the plaintiff is allowed to bring a new suit on the same claim.
Dispute — A conflict or controversy usually involving an assertion of a right, claim, or demand on one side, and contrary claims or allegations on the other.
Domicile — The place where a person has his permanent home, and to which he or she intends to return.
Due process — The concept that laws and legal proceedings must be fair. The Constitution guarantees that the government cannot take away a person’s basic rights to life, liberty or property without due process of law.
– E –
Enforceable Contract — An agreement or contract between persons in which either party can legally compel the performance of the other.
Equal Protection Clause — The portion of the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that prohibits discrimination by state government institutions. This clause grants all people equal protection of the laws, which means that states must apply the law equally and cannot give preference to one person or class of persons over another.
Evidence — Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used by the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
Expert witness — A witness with a specialized knowledge of a subject who is allowed to discuss an event in court.
– F –
Fiduciary — A person or institution who manages money or property for another. For example, an executor of an estate, a trustee, etc.
Fiduciary duty — An obligation to act in the best interest of another party. For instance, a corporation’s board member has a fiduciary duty to the shareholders, a trustee has a fiduciary duty to the trust’s beneficiaries, and so on.
Filing Fee — The fee required for filing various documents with a court or tribunal.
Finding — The court’s or jury’s decision on issues of fact.
FINRA — The Financial Industry Regulatory Authority, successor to the National Association of Securities Dealers, Inc. (NASD), is an independent, nongovernmental organization that writes and enforces the rules governing registered brokers and broker-dealer firms in the United States. FINRA’s stated mission is “to safeguard the investing public against fraud and bad practices.” It is considered an SRO, or self-regulatory organization.
Force Majeure — A common clause in contracts that excuses one or both parties from liability or obligation when an extraordinary event or circumstance beyond the parties’ control, such as a war, strike, riot, crime, epidemic or the like prevents the performance of contractual obligations.
Fraud — An intentional deception to gain unfair or unlawful advantage, or to deprive a person or entity of a legal right.
– G –
Garnishment — A court order to collect money or property. For example, a garnishment may be issued to an employer to pay part of an employee’s wages to someone else to pay a debt or judgment.
Guardian — A person appointed by will or by law to assume responsibility for incompetent adults or minor children. If a parent dies, this will usually be the other parent. If both die, it probably will be a close relative.
Guardian ad litem — A Latin term for the person appointed by the court to look out for the best interests of a child or other person not able to look out for themselves during the course of legal proceedings.
Gross negligence — Carelessness that is in reckless disregard for the safety or lives of others, and so great it appears to be a conscious violation of other people’s rights to safety; gross negligence is more than simple inadvertence, and can affect the amount of damages, typically giving rise to punitive damages.
– H –
Hearing — A formal proceeding (generally less formal than a trial) used by courts, administrative agencies and legislatures for hearing issues of law or fact.
Hearsay — Testimony given by a witness who tells second- or third-hand information.
Healthcare proxy — A document by which a patient appoints an agent to legally make healthcare decisions on behalf of the patient, when the patient is incapable of making and executing the healthcare decisions stipulated in the proxy.
Hold harmless — A provision often found in indemnification clauses or agreements where one party agrees to protect the other party from liability for any damage or harm resulting from a particular transaction or event.
Hung Jury — A jury whose members cannot reconcile their differences of opinion and thus cannot reach a verdict.
– I –
Indemnification — A contractual transfer of risk between two parties, usually to prevent loss or compensate for loss flowing from a specified event.
Independent contractor — A person or entity hired to do something for another entity as a nonemployee.
Injunction — A court order which forbids or requires a party to the case to do some act.
Intellectual Property — Property rights in trademarks, copyrights or patents.
Interrogatory —A set or series of written questions sent to a party, witness, or other person having information or interest in a case; used in the discovery phase of a case.
– J –
Joint and several liability — A legal concept meaning that each of the parties responsible for an injury are liable for the total amount of damages awarded in a lawsuit if the other responsible parties cannot pay.
Judgment —The decision of a court. Also called a decree or an order.
Jurisdiction — The power or authority of a court to hear and try a case; the geographic area in which a court has power or the types of cases it has power to hear.
Jury — A certain number of men and women selected according to law and sworn to determine the facts in a case after hearing the evidence.
– K –
No listings at this time.
– L –
Lawsuit — A term for a legal process (e.g. suit, action, or cause) between two or more parties in the legal system.
Legal Aid — Legal services that may be available to persons or organizations unable to afford such services in civil matters. There is no right to legal aid in most types of civil matters.
Lien — A charge, hold, or claim upon property of another as security for a debt.
Lis pendens — A pending lawsuit. Jurisdiction or control that courts have over property in a case waiting for final disposition. A notice of lis pendens is filed on the land records.
Litigant — A party to a case.
Litigation — A lawsuit in a court of law for the purpose of enforcing a right or seeking a remedy.
Living Will — Also known as a medical directive or advance directive. A written document that states a person’s wishes regarding life-support or other medical treatment in certain circumstances, usually when death is imminent.
– M –
Magistrate — A judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge.
Maintenance — In a divorce or separation, the money paid by one spouse to the other in order to fulfill the financial obligation that comes with marriage. Also called alimony.
Malpractice — Liability that occurs when a licensed professional (i.e. architect, doctor, engineer, lawyer) deviates from the standards of his or her profession, causing injury to person or property.
Mass tort — A civil action involving numerous plaintiffs against one or several defendants in state or federal court for injuries caused by the same or similar conduct.
Mediation — A private, informal way to resolve a dispute. A mediator is a neutral third person who tries to aid disputing parties in reaching a mutually agreeable solution to their differences.
Misrepresentation — An untrue or misleading statement made by a person that induces another to take some sort of action, such as entering into a contract or purchasing a product or service.
Mistrial — A fundamental error in a trial. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again with selection of a new jury.
Mitigation of damages — A legal concept requiring the victim in a contract dispute to minimize the damages arising from a breach of contract.
Moot — A moot case or point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court’s refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court’s decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court’s decision.
Motion — A request made to a court or judge that seeks a ruling or order in favor of the applicant.
Motion to dismiss — In a civil case, a request to a judge by the defendant, asserting that even if all the allegations are true, the plaintiff is not entitled to any legal relief and thus the case should be dismissed.
Movant — The person who files a motion, or request, to the court.
Moving party — The person making a request to the court in a case.
Multidistrict litigation (MDL) — When civil actions involving one or more common (and often complex) questions of fact are pending in several different federal district courts, these actions are sometimes transferred to one district for coordinated and consolidated management and trial under a single judge. These cases often involve common-carrier disasters (air crash), products liability, and securities actions, among others.
– N –
Negligence — Failure to use the care that a reasonable person would use under similar circumstances.
Negotiation — A popular mode of dispute resolution that enables the parties to control the process and the solution.
Non-Compete — A contractual agreement by which a person agrees not to enter into or start a similar business or trade in competition with another person.
Non-Suit — Vacating a case by the court, usually for failure to prosecute.
Notary Public — A person authorized by a state to administer oaths or certify documents.
Notarize — To formally complete a document by acknowledgement or oath.
– O –
Oath — A solemn pledge made under a sense of responsibility.
Opinion — A judge’s written explanation of a decision of the court, or a majority of judges. A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning or the principles of law on which the decision is based. A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the court, but offers further comment. A per curiam opinion is an appellate court’s unsigned opinion.
Operation of law — A way in which someone acquires certain rights or responsibilities automatically under the law, without taking individual action or being the subject of a court order. For example, when someone dies without a will, the person’s legal heirs automatically become entitled to inherit property from the estate.
Oral contract — A contract that is outlined and agreed to verbally, but not written down. While often difficult to prove the terms of an oral contract, this type of contract is legally binding.
Order — A written direction of a court or judge to do or refrain from doing certain acts.
– P –
Parcel — A tract or a plot of land.
Perjury — Making false statements under oath.
Petitioner — In some states or types of cases, the person filing a lawsuit or action in a court. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court.
Plaintiff — The person who brings a lawsuit or civil action.
Pleadings — The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
Power of attorney — A document appointing one party to act on the other party’s behalf as an agent, giving authority to carry out certain specified acts.
Preponderance of the evidence — The greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-criminal) lawsuit for the trier of fact (jury or judge without a jury) to decide in favor of one side or the other.
Pretrial — In a civil case, a conference with a judge or trial referee to discuss discovery and settlement. In a criminal case, a conference with the prosecutor, defense attorney and judge to discuss the case status and what will happen next.
Pretrial hearing — Court conference with attorneys to determine scope of possible trial, with view toward resolving issues through agreement.
Probate — Court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid. Term refers to all proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates, such as the process by which assets are gathered; applied to pay debts, taxes, and expenses of administration; and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the will.
Probate court — The court with authority to supervise estate administration.
Pro Bono — Work done by a lawyer without compensation, for the public good.
Pro Se — A Latin phrase meaning “for himself.” A person who represents himself in court without the help of a lawyer is said to appear pro se.
Products liability — A legal concept referring to the liability of any or all parties in the distribution chain of a product for damages.
Punitive damages — An award of damages on top of compensatory damages that is designed to punish the defendant for conduct considered grossly negligent or intentional, and to deter similar conduct in the future. (Also called exemplary damages).
– Q –
No listings at this time.
– R –
Record — The pleadings, the exhibits and the transcript made by the court reporter of all proceedings in a trial or hearing.
Remedies — The means by which the law enforces a right, imposes a penalty, or addresses harm for purposes of compensating a party for the wrongful act of another.
Reply — The response by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.
Respondent — Another word for defendant; the person against whom an appeal is taken.
Rest — To be done presenting the evidence in a case, as in “the plaintiff rests.”
Restitution — Generally making good, or giving the equivalent, for any loss, damage or injury caused by a person’s actions.
Restrictive covenant — A clause in a contract that prevents an employee from competing with a former employer, or soliciting or dealing with customers of a former employer, for a limited period of time after an employee has left the business.
Retainer — A term sometimes used to describe the fee that a client pays when retaining an attorney to act for them.
Rules of evidence — Standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.
– S –
Securities — Investment securities are tradable financial assets, such as equities or fixed income instruments, that are purchased in order to be held for investment. Securities can be broadly categorized into two distinct types: equities and debts.
Self-help — A term sometimes used to describe when a person handles a legal matter on their own, without using a lawyer.
Service of process — The delivery of a summons, subpoena, writ, or other legal document to the opposing party in a lawsuit.
Settlement — The act or process of settling, and an official agreement intended to resolve a dispute or conflict.
Standard of proof — In a court case, indicates the degree to which the point must be proven. In a civil case, the plaintiff must usually establish his or her case by a “preponderance of evidence” or “clear and convincing evidence.”
Standing — The legal right to bring a lawsuit. Only a person with something at stake has standing to bring a lawsuit.
Statute — A law enacted by a legislative body.
Statute of limitations — A law limiting the right of a plaintiff to file an action unless it is done within a specified time period.
Stay — Temporarily stopping a judicial proceeding.
Stipulation — A written agreement between the parties involved in a suit, agreeing that a certain fact or law will be assumed to be true or relevant.
Subpoena — An order compelling a person to appear to testify or produce documents.
Summary judgment — When a court gives its judgment that there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Summons — A legal document used to begin a civil case or to notify a person they must appear in court or respond to a lawsuit.
– T –
Temporary restraining order — An emergency but temporary order by a court used when immediate or irreparable damages or loss might result.
Testimony — The evidence given by a witness under oath. It does not include evidence from documents and other physical evidence.
Title — Legal recognition of the ownership of property, usually proven by a document.
Tort — When a person or entity intentionally or accidentally causes a civil wrong or injury to another person or property.
Tortious interference — A tort that occurs when one person intentionally damages someone else’s contractual or business relationships with a third party, causing economic harm.
Trademark — A name, marking, sign, or motto that a company can, by law, use exclusively in identifying and selling its product.
Trademark infringement — A legal concept referring to the unauthorized use of a trademark or service mark on or in connection with goods or services in a manner that is likely to cause confusion, deception, or mistake about the source of the goods or services.
Trade secret — A type of intellectual property consisting of a design, formula, instrument, pattern, practice, process, or compound known only to its owner and manufacturer, although the process or compound is not patented.
Trust — A legal device used to manage real or personal property, established by one person for the benefit of another.
Trustee — The person or institution that manages the property put in trust.
– U –
No listings at this time.
– V –
Vacate — To cancel or rescind a court order.
Venue — The authority of a court to hear a matter based on its geographical location.
Verdict — A conclusion, as to fact or law, that forms the basis for a court or jury judgment.
Voir Dire — The process of questioning prospective jurors or witnesses about their qualifications.
– W –
Will — A legal declaration that disposes of a person’s property when that person dies.
Witness — A person who testifies in court and swears to give truthful evidence about what he or she has seen, heard, or otherwise observed.
Worker’s compensation —A benefit paid to an employee for a work-related injury or illness.
Writ — A judicial order directing a person to do something.
Writ of certiorari — An order issued by the Supreme Court directing the lower court to transmit records for a case for which it will hear on appeal.
Writ of execution — An order of the court evidencing debt of one party to another and commanding the court officer to take property in satisfaction of the debt.
Writ of garnishment — An order of the court stating that property, money, or credits in the possession of another person may be seized and applied to pay a debtor’s debt. It is used as an incident to or auxiliary of a judgment rendered in a principal action.
Wrongful death — An action for damages against a party for causing a death either willfully or negligently.
Wrongful discharge — When an employee is fired for reasons that are not legitimate, typically either because they are unlawful or because they violate the terms of an employment contract.
– X –
No listings at this time.
– Y –
No listings at this time.
– Z –
No listings at this time.