A Glossary of Legal Terms and Definitions
Adjudication: The final order, pronouncement or judgment of a court or other tribunal.
Adjuster : An employee or agent of an insurance company who handles a casualty claim.
Admission : A statement or confession by a party to a lawsuit acknowledging that certain facts which may be against his interests are true.
Advocate : One who renders legal advice, assistance or argues on behalf of a party before a court or tribunal; a lawyer.
Affidavit : A written statement or declaration made under oath before a notary or other person authorized to certify the statement.
Affirmation : A declaration acknowledging that the person will tell the truth under penalty of perjury. Affirmations may be made by individuals who object to taking an oath on religious grounds.
Affirmative Defense: A written defense to a lawsuit which does not formally deny certain allegations in a complaint, but asserts that the plaintiff is not entitled to judgment based upon legal or equitable principles, even if the allegations are true.
Allegation: A statement or declaration of fact that a party expects to prove, generally set out in a pleading (complaint).
Allege: To state, assert or declare.
Amendment: A change or addition which improves or supplements another written document.
Amicable: Friendly; mutually agreed to, as a settlement.
Appraisal: A valuation of property by a disinterested party who is qualified to do so (appraiser).
Arbitration: The process through which a controversy is submitted to an impartial person called an arbitrator, to resolve a dispute outside of the court system.
Arbitration Clause: A provision in a contract providing for arbitration in lieu of a court action.
Attest: To affirm to be true; to act as a witness by signing.
Attorney: One licensed to practice law under state rules (admitted to the bar); an agent appointed to act in place of another; an advocate.
Bad Faith: Willful or dishonest conduct in a situation where a party owes a financial or other duty to a third party.
Brain Mapping: Brain Electrical Mapping (BEAM) is a Version of EEG which permits computerized analysis of the brain’s electrical activity. BEAM actually creates a picture of the EEG results.
Breach Of Contract: Failure, without legal excuse, to perform a duty required under a contract.
Burden Of Proof: The duty of a moving party to establish an allegation or principal issue in a civil or criminal complaint, generally either by the greater weight of the evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.
Carrier: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.
Case Law: Reported court decisions forming the body of jurisprudence.
Carrier: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.
Cause Of Action: A claim which will support a valid lawsuit; the lawsuit itself.
Certify: To make known or establish as a fact; to declare in writing.
Chambers: A judge’s private office, where a hearing can be conducted.
Check: A draft or order to pay money.
Circumstantial Evidence: Indirect or secondary evidence through which a fact may be proved by inference.
Civil Action: A lawsuit outside of the criminal justice system, seeking redress or an award of damage for a civil wrong.
Civil Procedure: The rules that regulate practice before a civil court.
Civil Rights: The right to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including such constitutional rights as free expression and religion, without discrimination in treatment by reason of race, color, sex, age, religion, previous condition of servitude or national origin. Claim: An asserted right to money, property or relief.
Claimant: A party asserting or presenting a claim.
Class Action: A lawsuit brought by a limited number of members on behalf of a larger group, all of whom share a common right or damage.
Clause: A paragraph or subdivision of a legal document such as a contract.
Clerk Of Court: An officer of the court who has clerical duties, including record keeping, filing and making certified copies.
Code: A compilation or collection of laws and statutes.
Comparative Negligence: The doctrine providing that any award for injury caused by a defendant is reduced proportionately by the plaintiff’s relative degree of negligence.
Compensatory Damages: An award of monetary damages intended to compensate a plaintiff for economic and non-economic losses sustained as a result of another’s negligence, breach of contract or misfeasance.
Competent: Having the ability to understand the nature and consequences of one’s actions.
Complaint: The initial pleading filed in a lawsuit by the plaintiff setting out the facts upon which the claim is based.
Conclusion Of Fact: The inference drawn by a jury or the decider of fact based upon the evidence.
Confidential Communication: A communication not intended to be disclosed to third parties, as between a lawyer and client.
Confidential Relationship: A fiduciary or other relationship which requires the utmost of good faith, and often, an understanding that communications between the parties are private.
Consideration: Something of real value given in return for performance or the promise of performance, which induces a party to make an agreement or enter into a binding contract.
Consolidate: To join together, as several lawsuits with identical parties or issues.
Consortium: Affection, company and sexual relations between spouses.
Contingency Fee: A fee paid to an attorney conditioned on a successful recovery in a negligence claim, based on a percentage of the recovery.
Continuance: A temporary stay or postponement of a legal proceeding.
Contributory Negligence: The doctrine under which one cannot recover for personal injury when one’s own negligence contributed to the cause of the injury. This doctrine has by and large been replaced with the doctrine of comparative negligence.
Costs: Expenses incurred in the prosecution of a lawsuit, including filing fees, deposition expenses and witness fees.
Counterclaim: A claim filed by the defendant against a plaintiff as part of defendant’s response to a lawsuit.
Court: Subject to state or federal law, in distinction to limited or special jurisdiction courts which can hear only a defined class or type of case.
Court Calendar: The schedule of cases pending before the court.
Court Order: Any judgment or order of any court of appropriate jurisdiction.
Court Reporter: Person certified to transcribe by shorthand or stenographic means any court proceeding or pre-trial matter.
Credible: Worthy of belief.
Cross-Claim: A lawsuit filed by one defendant in a lawsuit against another defendant in the same lawsuit.
Cross-Examination: The questioning of a witness at trial or deposition by the adverse party.
CT Scan: first introduced in 1973, CT Scans (Computed Tomography) and CAT Scans (Computed Axial Tomography) have rocketed in use and have evolved in capability and utilization. During CT Scan, a series of x-ray beams pass through an area of the body and the extent to which the body tissues absorb the x-rays are thereupon measured. A computer transforms these measurements into two-dimensional anatomic “slices” of high-resolution quality. One of the benefits of CT is the enhanced detail over regular x-rays. CT is able to depict portions of the body impossible to obtain by mere x-ray, and does so at ten to thirty times the detail of regular x-ray.
Other advantages of Computed Tomography include its cost effectiveness (when compared to MRI), and its ability to differentiate between soft tissue damage without regard to nearby structures on the image itself. CT Scans are the diagnostic tools of choice for brain trauma due to their ability to capture collections of blood (hematoma), cerebral contusions (bruises), fractures, and edema (swelling).
As with x-ray, CT Scans are not limited for use in any one area of the body, but are used throughout.
Damages: Monetary compensation awarded/awardable to a party injured as a result of a breach of contract or a negligent act; the injury sustained due to misfeasance, negligence or breach of contract.
Default: Failure to pay or discharge a duty.
Default Judgment: A judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond or otherwise appear in a lawsuit.
Defendant: In a civil proceeding, the party being sued; in criminal proceedings, the accused.
Deliberation: A process by which jurors reach a verdict; the act of weighing and examining evidence. Demand: Assert a legal right; claim.
Demand Note: A written document evidencing indebtedness which is payable upon demand or presentation.
Deponent: A witness who gives testimony under oath at a deposition; an affiant.
Deposition: The giving of testimony and cross-examination of witnesses before trial. Ordinarily a deposition is stenographically transcribed and recorded for later use.
Depreciation: A reduction in property value resulting from age or use.
Determination: The final decision of a court. Discovery: Various pre-trial procedures including depositions, interrogatories and requests for production, whereby parties obtain evidence to be used at trial.
Dismiss: To reject a claim or suit temporarily or permanently without further hearing or consideration through an order of dismissal.
Docket: List of cases to be heard or tried; record book containing summaries of court action in any case.
Dismissal With Prejudice: A dismissal of a claim on its merits leaving nothing more for determination by the court and having the force of a final judgment.
EEG: an Electroencephalogram records electrical activity in the outer layer of the brain (the cerebral cortex), using electrodes placed on the patient’s scalp. Electrical impulses are then recorded as they move a pen or other writing device across graph paper. CT Scans have decreased the use of EEG over the past years, although EEG’s are still used as a diagnostic tool. One area of continued use of EEG is in the monitoring of seizure disorders. Since an EEG detects abnormality in electrical activities, it is an effective tool in the diagnosis of seizures. EEG likewise can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of drug treatment on seizures. EEG’s have also proved effective in the diagnosis of intracranial infection, and in certain surgical procedures, EEG is used to monitor the flow of blood to the brain.
Endorsement: The signature on the back of a check or other negotiable instrument.
Error: Mistake of law or fact forming the basis of an appeal to a higher court.
Evidence: Any type of proof presented at trial which has the effect or tendency to affirm or disaffirm the existence of a fact. Evidence is the means by which some fact in question is established or disproved. Evidence includes oral testimony and every other known means available to establish the truth or falsity of a disputed question of fact.
Ex Parte: An application or communication to the court without notice and outside the presence of an adverse party. Ex Parte communications are prohibited.
Ex Post Facto: After the fact; a law passed after an act is performed which retroactively makes such act illegal. Such laws are prohibited under the U.S. Constitution.
Execute: To complete a legal document, as by signing.
Exemplary Damages: Punitive damages awarded to punish outrageous conduct, over and above compensatory damages.
Exhibit: Tangible evidence, a display or document presented to the court or jury which tends to prove or explain some relevant fact.
Expert Witness: Witness with specialized training or experience who is permitted to render opinion testimony in a legal proceeding.
Factor: One entrusted with the possession of goods to be sold in the factor’s name. A factor is one who is in the business of receiving goods from a principal and selling them for a commission.
Fault: Negligence; misconduct; deviation from standard of care.
Fiduciary: A person in a position of confidence who has the duty to act responsibly with respect to another’s money or property; a trustee; one acting in a fiduciary capacity or relationship.
Fiduciary Relationship: The relationship between parties where trust or confidence is reposed by one and accepted by the other; a confidential relationship whereby one trusts in and relies on another, e.g., parent and child, guardian and ward, husband and wife, physician and patient, attorney and client.
First Amendment: A guarantee of freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, and free exercise of religion contained in the Bill of Rights.
For Cause: With sufficient legal justification to perform an act.
Good Faith: The general requirement to deal honestly with others and not seek to gain unfair advantage or to defraud another party, especially in the context of business transactions or contracts.
Grace Period: The period during which insurance continues to be in force despite a delayed payment of premium.
Grand Jury: A jury convened to hear evidence and determine whether an indictment (criminal charge) should be issued. Grand Juries have investigative and subpoena powers.
Gross Negligence: A negligent act committed with a conscious indifference to the consequences thereof willfully or wantonly.
Guarantor: A person or entity who agrees in writing to pay the indebtedness of another.
Guardian: One who the law has entrusted with the custody and control of the person or property of a ward.
Guardian Ad Lietem: One appointed by a court in which litigation is pending to represent a ward (e.g., a minor or incompetent).
Habeas Corpus: A writ used in both criminal and civil proceedings to obtain the release of an individual in custody by testing the constitutionality of the incarceration.
Hearsay: An out of court statement which is neither an admission or a declaration against interest. Hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in a judicial proceeding.
Hearsay Rule: A rule of evidence which makes out of court statements used to prove the truth of the matter stated inadmissible. Hearsay evidence comes not from the personal knowledge of the witness, but from the repetition of what he has heard others say.
Hidden Defect: A defect in property or goods which is not readily detectable, that causes injury to a third party.
Hostile Witness: An adverse witness or opposing party who is known to offer prejudicial evidence as a result of such adverse interest or bias.
Hung Jury: A jury that cannot reach a verdict due to an inability to reconcile their differences.
Hypothetical Question: A combination of assumed or proved facts stated in a form that would allow an expert witness to give an opinion based on such facts.
Immunity: Exemption from prosecution granted to a witness to compel answers to questions which otherwise could be withheld because of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.
Impleader: A procedure whereby a third party may be brought into a lawsuit by a defendant who is being sued by a plaintiff.
Implied: Where the intention of the parties is not shown by direct terms but derived from surrounding circumstances or conduct.
Incapacity: Lack of sufficient legal, physical or intellectual power to perform an act.
Incompetency: The inability or incapacity at law to perform an act, such as giving testimony or making a will.
Incumbrance: See Encumbrance.
Indemnify: To insure a third party against loss; to agree to pay damages resulting from another’s actions.
Indemnity: The right of a person who has discharged a duty which should have been discharged by another to collect reimbursement from the party who should have discharged the obligation.
Indenture: A deed to which several persons are parties, in which each assumes corresponding obligations.
Indispensable Party: One who has interest in the subject matter of litigation which is of such a nature that a final decree cannot be entered or rendered without such person being made a party to the lawsuit.
Informed Consent: Consent given after full disclosure of constitutional and other legal rights which impact on whether consent would be given.
Infringement: The unauthorized use, sale or manufacture of an invention, trademark, tradename or copyright.
Injunction: An order or writ issuing from a court compelling a party to perform or refrain from performing certain acts.
Inquest: An inquiry by a coroner into the manner of death in a possible homicide case; a tribunal selected to inquire into selected factual matters.
Insurable Interest: A real and financial interest in property or the life of another sufficient to support and justify ownership of an insurance policy.
Intangible Personal Property: Money, evidence of debt, evidence of ownership, and all other forms of property where the value is based upon that which the property represents other rather than its own intrinsic value (e.g., mortgages, shares of stock, bonds, notes). Intent: The state of mind necessary to support a criminal proceeding against a defendant; the knowing performance of an act.
Interpleader: An action filed by a party faced by competing claims against property in his possession but which he does not own, requesting the court to determine relative rights to the property.
Interrogatories: Written questions served on a party to a lawsuit to be answered under oath as part of pre-trial discovery.
Ipso Facto: By virtue of the mere fact of itself.
Irrelevant: Not material. Irrelevancy forms the basis of an objection to the introduction of evidence asserting that the proposed evidence is not connected to the issue being decided.
Irreparable Injury: An injury of such a nature that it cannot be redressed in a court of law and is not susceptible to complete monetary compensation. Generally when a wrongful act has caused or will cause a irreparable injury, the courts will issue an injunction prohibiting the action.
Irrevocable: That which cannot be revoked or undone.
Issue: A point of controversy in a lawsuit; all persons descended from a common ancestor.
Joinder: Combining several causes of action or parties in a single lawsuit.
Jones Act: A federal law providing medical, disability and death benefits to sailors who suffer injuries in the course of their employment.
Judge Advocate: An officer at a court-martial who may act as clerk, prosecutor and/or legal advisor to the court.
Judgment: A final determination by a court; the official decision of the court.
Jurisdiction: The power and authority of a court to hear and determine a case.
Jurisprudence: The collective legal system including case law; the philosophy of law.
Jurist: A legal scholar.
Juror: A person selected to serve on a jury who has taken an oath to follow the law as enunciated by the judge.
Jury: An impartial group summoned and sworn to decide disputed issues of facts at a trial.
Latent Defect: A defect in a product or premises that is not readily observable or discoverable even with the exercise of ordinary care.
Lay Witness: Any witness not testifying as an expert. Lay witnesses ordinarily cannot render an opinion as to the ultimate issue in the case and can only testify as to what they heard and saw.
Leading Question: A question which suggests to the witness the expected answer. Leading questions are ordinarily improper and are objected to at trial.
Letter Of Intent: A preliminary writing setting forth an understanding between parties. Letters of Intent ordinarily do not constitute binding agreements.
Letters Rogatory: A request from one court to another in a different state requesting that a witness in such other state be directed to submit to a deposition or answer written questions under oath.
Liability: The duty, obligation or responsibility arising by virtue of a contract or a tort (act of negligence).
Libel: A false defamatory statement which is written or printed and published or communicated to others.
Libel Per Se: A libelous statement which falsely accuses another of a crime, immoral conduct or professional misconduct. To recover damages under such circumstances, it is not necessary to show actual monetary loss.
Limitations: See Statute of Limitations.
Limited Liability: The limitation placed upon the amount a limited partner or corporate shareholder can lose by reason of lawsuits or claims filed against a corporation. Such losses are limited to the investment made.
Litigation: A judicial proceeding in which the rights, duties and obligations of parties are determined.
Long-Arm Statute: Law that allows residents of different states to be served with process and sued in the forum state by virtue of contacts with the forum state.
Lump Sum Settlement: Arrangement whereby the entire amount of compensation due to an employee or injured party is paid at one time, often at a discount.
Malicious Prosecution: A lawsuit filed without probable cause or justification in law, intended to harass a defendant.
Malpractice: Negligence by a professional such as a doctor, lawyer or engineer in the performance of professional duties; professional misconduct.
Mandamus: A writ or directive issued by a court to an official compelling the performance of the official’s duties.
Mandate: A judicial command or order.
Minority: The state of being a minor; infancy; one who has not reached the age of majority.
Mistrial: A trial that has been terminated and voided due to a fundamental and prejudicial error occurring during the course of the proceeding, or because the jury was unable to reach a verdict.
Mitigating Circumstances: Extenuating circumstances that in justice and fairness may reduce the degree of damages or punishment. Mitigating circumstances do not constitute justification for a wrongful act.
Monopoly: An association formed to directly or indirectly control a particular industry or trade in order to reduce or eliminate competition, generally in violation of anti-trust laws.
Motion: An application to the court for an order.
MRI Scans: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another type of sophisticated diagnostic imaging which examines body tissues by subjecting the atomic nuclei of the tissues through a magnetic field. The procedure is non-invasive and is thought to be safer than many other procedures. MRI studies are extremely effective, and produce high-resolution images giving information as to the metabolic status of tissues and organs, as well as structural information regarding the body itself. The MRI picture is of such a good contrast that biochemical information about abnormal tissue can often times be derived. MRI’s are especially effective in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, and other abnormalities involving tissues of the brain. Its use is not limited to the brain, and MRI’s are often used in order to diagnose problems with the spine, eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas, pelvic structures, temporomandibular joint, liver and spleen, pericardium, heart, and various joints.
Negligence: Failure to exercise the degree of care ordinarily expected from a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances. Negligence Per Se: An error, omission, or act in violation of a rule of law or statute which is presumed to be proof of negligence.
No-Fault Insurance: A type of automobile insurance often required by statute, whereby one’s own insurance company pays the medical bills or expenses incurred by their insured irrespective of fault.
Nonsuit: A voluntary or involuntary termination of a lawsuit, by or against a plaintiff who is either unable to prove his case or proceed to trial. Often a nonsuit is the result of procedural errors in a case.
Notary Public: A public officer who administers oaths, certifies documents, and performs certain other official acts, such as solemnizing a marriage.
Objection: A request to the court to determine that a line of questioning, procedure, or evidence is improper and should not be received by the court.
Obstruction Of Justice: The act or attempt to impede justice or a judicial proceeding, often by officials who have a duty to administer justice. Occupational Safety And Health Act (Osha) : A body of laws consisting of safety and health standards intended to prevent employees from being injured or contracting illnesses in the course of their employment.
Of Counsel: An attorney assisting in the preparation or management of a case, but who is not the primary attorney of record.
Offer: An expressed willingness to enter into a contract or to perform an act.
Offer Of Proof: An offer of evidence that has been ruled by the court to be inadmissible made for the purpose of establishing an appellate record.
Open Court: A court that is actively engaged in the administration of justice; before the judge.
Opening Statement: Outline of anticipated proof delivered to the jury at the beginning of a trial.
Operation Of Law: A right or entitlement arising under the law and not as a result of agreement.
Opinion: The stated reason for a court’s judgment, finding or conclusion; the court’s decision or judgment.
Option: A continuing offer to sell which must be accepted by the optionee within terms of the option, and if not accepted within the time specified, the right to do so is lost.
Order: A directive from the court disposing of a matter collateral to the main action, or adjudicating the matter itself, in which case it is a “final order”.
Order To Show Cause: A directive from the court instructing a party to appear before it and demonstrate why such party took or failed to take an action and why a penalty should not be assessed against such party.
Out-Of-Pocket Expenses: Costs necessarily incurred to prosecute a civil case or to protect rights or property pending a court’s determination.
Overrule: To find an objection raised to be invalid; to overturn or invalidate a prior decision or holding.
Overt Act: An open, outward act which demonstrates intent or design.
Pain And Suffering: An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff may be entitled if injured as the result of the wrongdoing of another.
Paralegal: An individual trained to perform a variety of legal tasks but who is not authorized to practice law.
Party: A plaintiff or defendant in a judicial proceeding; person or entity that has entered into a contract.
Per Curiam: By the court.
Per Se: Lat.: Through itself, i.e., not requiring external evidence to establish its existence.
Perjury: The willful making of a false statement under oath which constitutes a criminal offense.
Person: A natural or artificial being created under law, such as a corporation.
Personal Property (Personalty): Movable property not attached to realty; chattels.
PET Scan: Positron Emission Tomography is a new test that studies brain function – not brain structure. It is the only test that can measure functions as opposed to tissue damage, changes in blood flow or other structural anomalies. The patient is injected with minuscule positrons that make visual to a computer the brain’s function when it is using or failing to properly use glucose or sugar. The patient is injected with positrons and then, after the positrons take effect, given glucose by intravenous drip. As the sugar reaches the brain, the scan measures normal from abnormal patterns of use. When correlated with neuropsychological test results, PET becomes an effective demonstrative diagnostic tool that objectively defines abnormal brain function.
Plaintiff: The party who initiates a lawsuit.
Pleadings: The allegations contained in a complaint and answer; the complaint/answer or petition/response.
Power of Attorney: A written instrument by which a principal appoints another to act as his or her agent and authorizes the agent to perform certain acts.
Precedent: A rule of law established in earlier court decisions, that will generally be followed by other courts.
Preponderance Of Evidence: The greater weight of the evidence; the general standard of proof required to prevail in a civil case.
Prima Facie Case: A case in which sufficient evidence has been submitted to allow a jury or judge to make a final determination unless overcome and contradicted by other evidence.
Principal: The employer or master of an employee or agent; one who authorizes another to act on his behalf.
Privilege: A benefit or immunity conferred by law.
Privileged Communication: A communication that is not admissible in evidence if made under circumstances in which the law recognizes a right of privacy, as between an attorney and a client.
Procedure: The judicial process for the administration of cases before it; the rules governing such process.
Proceeding: The various stages and events involved in a judicial proceeding.
Process: A formal writ, most often a summons.
Product Liability: An area of law dealing with the liability of manufacturers or sellers of goods that cause damage or injury to consumers.
Property Settlement Agreement: An agreement setting forth an agreed division of property owned or acquired by spouses during their marriage; post-nuptial agreement.
Proximate Cause: That which in natural sequence produces an injury.
Punitive Damages: Damages awarded to punish a party who committed a wrongful act rather than to compensate an injured party for actual damages; exemplary damages.
Quantum Meruit: The equitable value of the goods or services in question. The doctrine of quantum meruit allows a plaintiff to recover the reasonable value of goods or services provided to another who has derived a benefit and not paid for such benefit.
Quash: To annul, void or vacate a prior judicial order or decision.
Question Of Fact: A factual issue submitted to the jury or to the judge in a bench trial for determination.
Question Of Law: A disputed legal issue presented for judicial determination.
Quid Pro Quo: That which a party gives up in return for a benefit; the
mutual consideration that is exchanged between parties to a
contract and makes it binding
Real Evidence: Tangible evidence produced at trial which is capable of being physically inspected.
Real Property: Land, and whatever grows on or is affixed to it.
Reasonable Care: That degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances.
Reasonable Doubt: The degree of uncertainty that compels a juror to find a defendant not guilty in a criminal proceeding; a realistic uncertainty, even if remote.
Reasonable Man (Person): A hypothetical individual who exercises that degree of care, knowledge and judgment that society ordinarily requires of its members.
Reasonable Time: That period of time which is ordinarily acceptable under the circumstances to respond or take some action.
Rebuttal: Argument or evidence presented by an attorney in response to statements, claims, arguments, or evidence of an opposing party.
Recess: A temporary adjournment or suspension of court proceedings.
Record: A transcript, or papers transmitted from lower court to an appellate court upon which the appellate court decides the appeal.
Recusal: The disqualification or voluntary withdrawal by a judge from a pending case due to the appearance of bias or lack of impartiality.
Regulations: Rules and enactments of an administrative agency.
Rehearing: A re-trial or reconsideration of a case or an issue by the court at the request of a party.
Release: A written document evidencing the satisfaction of a debt; the giving up of some right, claim or interest.
Relevancy: The test applied to the quality of evidence to determine whether it is competent to prove a fact in issue.
Relief: Assistance or redress at the hands of the court.
Remedy: Recourse at law to recover damages or enforce a legal right.
Remittitur: The process or power of the court to reduce a jury verdict that is deemed to be excessive.
Removal Of Case: The transfer of a case from one court to another, generally from state to federal court.
Rendition: The filing of a signed, written order with the clerk of the court.
Reply: A response to a pleading that has raised a new matter as a defense.
Representative: One who acts for another with permission; an agent.
Repudiation: An act or declaration which clearly indicates that a party will not perform an act that a contract requires be performed in the future.
Res Ipsa Loquiter: Lat.: The thing speaks for itself. The Doctrine of Res Ipsa allows negligence to be inferred by virtue of the fact that an accident happened, e.g., a sponge found in the body of a patient after surgery.
Res Judicata: Lat.: A thing decided. The doctrine stating that a matter that has already been judicially determined is conclusive and is not subject to re-litigation.
Rescind: To cancel or nullify a contract, either mutually or unilaterally.
Rescission: A judicial decree that cancels or annuls a contract; the termination of the contract by word or act of the parties.
Retainer: An initial or advanced payment to an attorney for services to be performed; the act of employing an attorney.
Return of Service: A writing made by an officer attesting to the fact that he/she served process (summons or subpoena) on a party, or that he/she was unable to do so.
Review: A re-examination of decisions, orders and proceedings of an inferior court by an appellate court; reconsideration.
Rider: An amendment or addition to a document or contract, especially an insurance contract.
Right of Privacy: A generally accepted legal right to be let alone and live one’s life free from unwarranted publicity or intrusion. Disruption of the right of privacy may give rise to a cause of action or claim in tort.
Right of Way: A right of crossing or passage over the land of another; the strip of land on which the right of way is located.
Risk of Loss: A provision in a contract identifying the party who bears the risk of damage or destruction of property during its transfer from seller to buyer.
Sanction: To order punishment or penalties for violation of a rule of law or procedure, or the penalty for such violation.
Satisfaction: A document evidencing release or discharge of an obligation such as a mortgage.
Sealing Of Records: The making of records unavailable to the public except by court order.
Secured Transaction: Any transaction which is intended to create a security interest or lien in personal property or fixtures.
Securities Acts: The various federal statutes that require full disclosure of material facts relevant to the offer or sale of stock.
Security: Any note, stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation issued by a corporation indicating ownership; collateral.
Security Agreement: An agreement which creates or provides for a security interest.
Security Interest: An interest in real or personal property which secures or ensures payment of an obligation.
Self-Incrimination: Statements by a defendant which would tend to admit guilt to a criminal offense. Under the Fifth Amendment, persons may refuse to answer questions or give testimony which would tend to subject them to criminal prosecution.
Sequester Settlor: To protect a jury from outside influences or information; to take a thing which is the subject of a controversy and place it in the hands of a third party for protection. Person who establishes a trust.
Service Mark: Any word, name, symbol, character, design, drawing or device used to identify services rendered and to distinguish them from services rendered or offered by others.] Sever : The separation of a case into two separate trials of a case where two or more defendants have been named in the same criminal indictment or information; the removal of one or more claims in a civil lawsuit so that such claims may be tried separately.
Show Cause Order: An order issuing from the court requiring a party to appear and demonstrate why certain relief should or should not be granted.
Side-Bar: An area of the courtroom out of the hearing range of the jury and witnesses, where the judge and attorneys can hold brief conferences. Small Claims Court: A court of limited jurisdiction that hears and tries claims involving lesser sums of money.
Specific Performance: A remedy available to an injured party when the remedy at law is inadequate, whereby a defendant may be required to perform under the terms of a contract instead of paying money damages.
SPECT: SPECT or Single Photon Emission Tomography produces a computerized image of the brain through utilization of radioactive isotopes. SPECT does not generally produce an image of the same quality as that produced by PET. Nonetheless, SPECT scanning can be an effective diagnostic tool. Speedy Trial: The rule of law arising under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution or under state constitutions mandating that a person accused of a crime be discharged in the event the prosecuting authorities fail to bring him/her to trial within certain specified periods of time.
Standard Of Care: That which a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstances. Failure to comply with the standard of care will render a party liable for damages to an injured party.
Standing: The right to present and prosecute a claim; standing is ordinarily dependent on having sustained a direct injury.
Stare Decisis: The general rule that courts will abide with prior decisions and precedents and apply the same principles in every case.
Statute: An act, code or rule enacted by the legislature and adopted as law.
Statute Of Frauds: The requirement that certain types of contracts be in writing to be enforceable. Examples of such contracts include; contracts for the purchase or sale of land and agreements which by their terms cannot be performed within one year.
Statute Of Limitations: A statute that fixes the time within which a lawsuit on a claim must be filed, and beyond which, it will be forever barred.
Stay: A temporary suspension of legal proceedings by court order.
Stipulation: A voluntary agreement on an issue of fact or procedure reached between parties in a lawsuit.
Strict Liability: Liability that arises without the necessity of first showing fault or negligence. For example, many states impose strict liability on the owners of animals that cause damage or injury.
Sua Sponte: An action by the court of its own volition, without a motion having been made by any party.
Sub Judice: Under consideration by the court.
Subordination Agreement: An agreement establishing the priority of payment of claims, whereby a creditor may agree that claims of other creditors are discharged before payment is made to the subordinated creditor.
Subpoena: A writ issued by the court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding.
Subrogation: The right of an innocent party who has paid benefits as a result of a third party’s wrongful action to recover such payments from the responsible party.
Sui Juris: One who is competent and of the age of majority.
Suit: Any judicial proceeding in which a remedy is sought.
Summary Judgment: A judgment issued by the court before trial based upon a finding that there are no disputed issues of fact and that the applicable law compels a certain result.
Summary Proceeding: An expedited proceeding under simplified rules, allowing the case to proceed to hearing quickly. Landlord-tenant matters are typically the subject of summary proceedings.
Summation: The closing argument of the parties.
Summons: A document issued by the clerk of the court requiring an appearance or answer to be filed by the defendant under penalty of having judgment entered or an arrest warrant issued.
Supersedeas: A writ from a superior court suspending the power of a lower court to issue an execution upon a judgment issued by it.
Supress: To exclude evidence based on a violation of constitutional rights, rule of law or procedure.
Tangible Property: Property that may be felt or touched (as distinct from a debt or property right).
Tender: An unconditional offer to pay or to perform a contractual obligation.
Testate: Having a valid will.
Testator/Testatrix: Male or female who makes or has a will.
Testimony: Statement by a witness or a party made under oath in a legal proceeding or deposition.
Third-Party Beneficiary: A person who receives an intended or incidental benefit by virtue of a contract to which he or she is not a party and for which he or she has paid no consideration.
Time is of the Essence: A contract term that fixes the time of performance and establishes such time as being critical, so that failure to perform within such time will constitute a default.
Tort: A private or civil wrong that results in an injury; a breach of the duty of care causing damage; a negligent act.
Tortfeasor: One who commits a tort.
Trade Name: The name under which a person does business, and which identifies the business.
Trade Secret: Any formula, process, plan or mechanism developed and utilized in conjunction with one’s business which is kept private or secret in order to obtain an advantage over competitors.
Trademark: Any mark, word, or design affixed to goods or products which authenticates them.
Treble Damages: Damages established by statute, most commonly applicable to anti-trust violations, whereby the plaintiff receives an award of three times the amount of actual damages.
Trespass: Wrongful interference with the use of the property of another.
Trial Court: A court of original jurisdiction which hears and tries a lawsuit.
Trust: An entity or method through which assets can be held for distribution to beneficiaries at a later date.
Trustee: A duly authorized agent or fiduciary who holds title to property for the benefit of another person; the administrator of a trust.
Ultra Vires: An action by a corporation that is beyond the scope of powers conferred by statute or authorized by corporate documents.
Underwrite: To insure payment or satisfaction of an obligation; to insure life or property; to sell stock or bonds to the public and agree to buy any that are not sold.
Undue Influence: That degree of influence or compulsion that destroys or eliminates another’s free will; any improper persuasion whereby the will of a person is overpowered inducing an action which otherwise would not have been taken. Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) : A compilation of laws governing commercial transactions.
United States Code: The official compilation of federal statutes.
Unjust Enrichment: The doctrine that a person should not be allowed to gain or benefit improperly from the acts and efforts of another without compensation.
Unliquidated: Not as yet determined as to amount.
Usury: The wrongful charging of interest at a rate which exceeds that allowed by statute. Usury may constitute a crime under state law depending on the rate of interest charged.
Vacate: To void or set aside a judgment or order.
Variance: A modification of zoning ordinance regulations to permit the use of property in a manner otherwise forbidden, when such variance will not be contrary to the public interest.
Venire: Process by which jurors are summoned to try a case; the jury panel.
Venue: The place of trial; one of several places where a trial may properly be conducted.
Verdict: The opinion and findings of a jury as reported to the court.
Verification: An affidavit, oath or deposition attesting to the accuracy of a statement contained in a document.
Vicarious Liability: Liability imposed on one person for the actions of another, as in the case of an employer who is vicariously liable for the acts of an employee performed in the course and scope of the employee’s duties. See also Master and Servant.
View: An inspection of an object by the court or jury where the object or location viewed cannot conveniently be produced in court.
Void: Having no legal force; null.
Voidable: Capable of being rendered void or annulled.
Voir Dire: The process of examination of prospective jurors by the court or attorneys to determine their qualification for jury service and to uncover any biases or conflicts of interest.
Waiver: The voluntary and intentional surrender of a right or privilege.
Ward: A person for whom a guardianship has been established.
Warranty: A promise to perform, make good, repair or indemnify the promissee for a loss incurred in the event a represented fact proves to be untrue; a promise that a fact is true.
Warranty Deed: A deed which warrants and guarantees that the title being transferred is free and clear of all encumbrances.
Weight Of The Evidence: The balance of the greater amount of credible evidence.
Whiplash Injury: A soft-tissue injury to the neck or back usually associated with rear-end automobile collisions.
Will: A dispositive document prepared by or at the direction of a testator of sufficient testamentary capacity, indicating how property is to be disposed of as of the date of death.
Willful: Intentional; intending the result which comes to pass.
With Prejudice: A phrase used in orders of judgments indicating that an action or claim has been irrevocably dismissed and the only available remedy thereafter is an appeal.
Work Product: Work done by an attorney in the course of his representation of a client that is privileged and cannot be obtained by an adverse party.
Worker’s Compensation: Mandatory insurance under state law that pays medical and lost wage benefits to workers injured in the course and scope of their employment.
Writ: The means by which a court compels acts to be performed, including such documents as an arrest warrant, garnishment and writs of attachment.
Writ Of Assistance: A writ issued by a court in order to enforce its judgment or decree.
Writ Of Execution: An order directed to a sheriff or other law enforcement officer to levy and execute upon the property of a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment.
Writ of Prohibition: A writ issued by a Superior Court directing a judge, court or tribunal not to take an action that would be in excess of and beyond its jurisdiction.
Wrongful Death Statute: A state statute defining and limiting the types of compensation recoverable by survivors of a decedent in an action resulting from another’s negligence.
X-Ray: X-rays are electromagnetic waves. Unlike light waves, x-rays are stopped by solids or other dense radiopaque objects, including bone. X-rays pass through the body and exit from the opposite side where difference in density appear in shades of gray on x-ray film.
An x-ray is a useful diagnostic tool available for visualization of structures within the body. X-rays are limited, however, when compared to other sophisticated imaging now available. X-rays are an excellent starting point, however. The most frequent application for x-ray is the diagnosis of fractures and dislocations, certain tumors, tuberculosis, osteoarthritis, and other structural anomalies.
Skull x-rays may be used when the patient complains of headaches or other neurological symptoms.
An x-ray test is said to be “positive” if the x-ray film reveals an alteration in normal anatomical structure (fracture, etc.), an invasion by a new growth such as a tumor, or displacement of brain structures such as that caused by a subdural hematoma.