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abuse of discretion
n. a polite way of saying a trial judge has made such a bad mista...
accessory
n. a second-string player who helps in the commission of a crime ...
acquit
v. what a jury or judge sitting without a jury does at the end of...
administrative hearing
n. a hearing before any governmental agency or before an administ...
administrative law judge
n. a professional hearing officer who works for the government to...
admissible evidence
n. evidence which the trial judge finds is useful in helping the ...
admission of evidence
n. a judge's acceptance of evidence in a trial.
admission to bail
n. an order of a court in a criminal case allowing an accused def...
admit
v. 1) to state something is true in answering a complaint filed i...
adoption
n. the taking of a child into one's family, creating a parent to ...
adverse witness
n. a witness in a trial who is found by the judge to be adverse t...
advisory opinion
n. an opinion stated by a judge or a court upon the request of a ...
American Bar Association
n. the largest organization of American lawyers, which has no off...
appearance
n. the act of a party or an attorney showing up in court. Once it...
approach the bench
v. an attorney's movement from the counsel table to the front of ...
approach the witness
v. a request by an attorney to the judge for permission to go up ...
arbitrary
adj. not supported by fair or substantial cause or reason. Most o...
arbitration
n. a mini-trial, which may be for a lawsuit ready to go to trial,...
arbitrator
n. one who conducts an arbitration, and serves as a judge who con...
argumentative
adj. the characterization of a question asked by the opposing att...
arraignment
n. the hearing in which a person charged with a crime is arraigne...
arrest
v. 1) to take or hold a suspected criminal with legal authority, ...
arrest warrant
n. a judge's order to law enforcement officers to arrest and brin...
articles of impeachment
n. the charges brought (filed) to impeach a public official. In r...
attachment
n. the seizing of money or property prior to getting a judgment i...
back-to-back life sentences
n. slang for consecutive life terms imposed by a judge when there...
bail
1) n. the money or bond put up to secure the release of a person ...
bailiff
n. 1) a court official, usually a deputy sheriff, who keeps order...
bank
n. 1) an officially chartered institution empowered to receive de...
bankruptcy proceedings
n. the bankruptcy procedure is: a) filing a petition (voluntary o...
bar
1) n. collectively all attorneys, as "the bar," which comes from ...
bench
n. 1) general term for all judges, as in "the bench," or for the ...
bench warrant
n. a warrant issued by a judge, often to command someone to appea...
bias
n. the predisposition of a judge, arbitrator, prospective juror, ...
bifurcate
v. the order or ruling of a judge that one issue in a case can be...
bifurcation
n. the act of a judge in dividing issues before a trial so that o...
bigamy
n. the condition of having two wives or two husbands at the same ...
brief
1) n. a written legal argument, usually in a format prescribed by...
burden of proof
n. the requirement that the plaintiff (the party bringing a civil...
calendar
1) n. the list of cases to be called for trial before a particula...
capricious
adv., adj. unpredictable and subject to whim, often used to refer...
challenge
n. the right of each attorney in a jury trial to request that a j...
challenge for cause
n. a request that a prospective juror be dismissed because there ...
chambers
n. the private office of a judge, usually close to the courtroom ...
chancellor
n. from the old English legal system, a chancellor is a judge who...
change of circumstances
n. the principal reason for a court modifying (amending) an exist...
charge
n. 1) in a criminal case, the specific statement of what crime th...
Chief Justice
n. the presiding judge of any State Supreme Court and the U.S. Su...
circuit courts
n. a movable court in which the judge holds court sessions at sev...
clerk
n. 1) an official or employee who handles the business of a court...
collusive action
n. a lawsuit brought by parties pretending to be adversaries in o...
comment
n. a statement made by a judge or an attorney during a trial whic...
commitment
n. a judge's order sending someone to jail or prison, upon convic...
comparative negligence
n. a rule of law applied in accident cases to determine responsib...
compromise
1) n. an agreement between opposing parties to settle a dispute o...
conclusion
n. 1) in general, the end. 2) in a trial, when all evidence has b...
conclusion of fact
n. in a trial, the final result of an analysis of the facts prese...
conclusion of law
n. a judge's final decision on a question of law which has been r...
concurrent sentences
n. sentences for more than one crime which are to be served at on...
consent decree
n. an order of a judge based upon an agreement, almost always put...
consent judgment
n. a judgment issued by a judge based on an agreement between the...
conservator
n. a guardian and protector appointed by a judge to protect and m...
consign
v. 1) to deliver goods to a merchant to sell on behalf of the par...
contempt of court
n. there are essentially two types of contempt: a) being rude, di...
continuing objection
n. an objection to certain questions or testimony during a trial ...
cop a plea
n. slang for a "plea bargain" in which an accused defendant in a ...
cost bill
n. a list of claimed court costs submitted by the prevailing (win...
court
n. 1) the judge, as in "The court rules in favor of the plaintiff...
court costs
n. fees for expenses that the courts pass on to attorneys, who th...
Court of Customs and Patent Appeals
n. a federal court established (1929) to hear appeals from decisi...
court trial
("non-jury trial"): a trial with a judge but no jury.
court-martial
1) n. a military court for trying offenses in violation of army, ...
credible witness
n. a witness whose testimony is more than likely to be true based...
cross-examination
n. the opportunity for the attorney (or an unrepresented party) t...
cumulative sentence
n. when a criminal defendant has been found guilty of more than o...
cy pres doctrine
n. (see-pray doctrine) from French, meaning "as close as possible...
decide
v. for a judge, arbitrator, court of appeals or other magistrate ...
decision
n. judgment, decree or determination of findings of fact and/or o...
declaratory relief
n. a judge's determination (called a "declaratory judgment") of t...
default judgment
n. if a defendant in a lawsuit fails to respond to a complaint in...
deliberate
1) adj. (dee-lib-er-et) done with care and intention or premedita...
demonstrative evidence
n. actual objects, pictures, models and other devices which are s...
demurrer
n. (dee-muhr-ur) a written response to a complaint filed in a law...
dictum
n. Latin for "remark," a comment by a judge in a decision or ruli...
directed verdict
n. a verdict by a jury based on the specific direction by a trial...
discharge in bankruptcy
n. an order given by the bankruptcy judge, at the conclusion of a...
discretion
n. the power of a judge, public official or a private party (unde...
dismiss
v. the ruling by a judge that all or a portion (one or more of th...
dismissal
n. 1) the act of voluntarily terminating a criminal prosecution o...
dissent
n. 1) the opinion of a judge of a court of appeals, including the...
election of remedies
n. an outmoded requirement that if a plaintiff (party filing suit...
en banc
(on bonk) French for "in the bench," it signifies a decision by t...
enjoin
v. for a court to order that someone either do a specific act, ce...
enter a judgment
v. to officially record a judgment on the "judgment roll," which ...
error
n. a mistake by a judge in procedure or in substantive law, durin...
esquire
n. a form of address showing that someone is an attorney, usually...
evidence
n. every type of proof legally presented at trial (allowed by the...
ex parte
(ex par-tay, but popularly, ex party) adj. Latin meaning "for one...
examination
n. 1) the questioning of a witness by an attorney. Direct examina...
exception
n. 1) a formal objection during trial ("We take exception, or sim...
executor
n. the person appointed to administer the estate of a person who ...
expert witness
n. a person who is a specialist in a subject, often technical, wh...
extrajudicial
adj. referring to actions outside the judicial (court) system, su...
extraordinary fees
n. attorneys' fees claimed, usually in the administration of a de...
fact
n. an actual thing or happening, which must be proved at trial by...
fact finder (finder of fact)
n. in a trial of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, the jury or j...
felony
n. 1) a crime sufficiently serious to be punishable by death or a...
final judgment
n. the written determination of a lawsuit by the judge who presid...
final settlement
n. an agreement reached by the parties to a lawsuit, usually in w...
finding
n. the determination of a factual question vital (contributing) t...
first impression
adj. referring to a legal issue which has never been decided by a...
frivolous
adj. referring to a legal move in a lawsuit clearly intended mere...
gag order
n. a judge's order prohibiting the attorneys and the parties to a...
good cause
n. a legally sufficient reason for a ruling or other action by a ...
Grand Jury
n. a jury in each county or federal court district which serves f...
gross negligence
n. carelessness which is in reckless disregard for the safety or ...
guardian
n. a person who has been appointed by a judge to take care of a m...
guilty
adj. having been convicted of a crime or having admitted the comm...
habeas corpus
(hay-bee-us core-puss) n. Latin for "you have the body," it is a ...
harmless error
n. an error by a judge in the conduct of a trial which an appella...
hearing
n. any proceeding before a judge or other magistrate (such as a h...
hearsay rule
n. the basic rule that testimony or documents which quote persons...
hometowned
adv. legalese for a lawyer or client suffering discrimination by ...
hostile witness
n. technically an "adverse witness" in a trial who is found by th...
hung jury
n. slang for a hopelessly deadlocked jury in a criminal case, in ...
immunity
n. exemption from penalties, payments or legal requirements, gran...
impaneling
n. the act of selecting a jury from the list of potential jurors,...
impeach
v. 1) to discredit the testimony of a witness by proving that he/...
in camera
adj. or adv. phrase. Latin for "in chambers." This refers to a he...
in chambers
adj. referring to discussions or hearings held in the judge's off...
in propria persona
adj. from Latin "for one's self," acting on one's own behalf, gen...
indictment
n. a charge of a felony (serious crime) voted by a Grand Jury bas...
information
n. an accusation or criminal charge brought by the public prosecu...
injunction
n. a writ (order) issued by a court ordering someone to do someth...
inquest
n. 1) an investigation and/or a hearing held by the coroner (a co...
insanity
n. mental illness of such a severe nature that a person cannot di...
instruction
n. an explanation of the law governing a case which the judge giv...
insufficient evidence
n. a finding (decision) by a trial judge or an appeals court that...
intent
n. mental desire and will to act in a particular way, including w...
inter alia
(in-tur eh-lee-ah) prep. Latin for "among other things." This phr...
interlocutory decree
n. a court judgment which is temporary and not intended to be fin...
intervention
n. the procedure under which a third party may join an on-going l...
irrelevant
adj. not important, pertinent, or germane to the matter at hand o...
irreparable damage or injury
n. the type of harm which no monetary compensation can cure or pu...
issue
1) n. a person's children or other lineal descendants such as gra...
J
n. abbreviation for Judge, as in the Hon. William B. Boone, J.
joinder
n. the joining together of several lawsuits or several parties al...
joint and several
adj. referring to a debt or a judgment for negligence, in which e...
judge
1) n. an official with the authority and responsibility to presid...
judge advocate
n. a military officer with legal training who has the mixed dutie...
judge advocate general
(J.A.G.) n. a military officer who advises the government on cour...
judgment notwithstanding the verdict
(N.O.V.) n. reversal of a jury's verdict by the trial judge when ...
judicial
adj., adv. 1) referring to a judge, court or the court system. 2)...
judicial discretion
n. the power of the judge to make decisions on some matters witho...
judicial notice
n. the authority of a judge to accept as facts certain matters wh...
judicial proceedings
n. any action by a judge re: trials, hearings, petitions or other...
jurist
n. although it means any attorney or legal scholar, jurist popula...
juror
n. any person who actually serves on a jury. Lists of potential j...
jury
n. one of the remarkable innovations of the English common law (f...
jury selection
n. the means by which a jury is chosen, with a panel of potential...
jury trial
n. a trial of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the case...
justice
n. 1) fairness. 2) moral rightness. 3) a scheme or system of law ...
justice of the peace
(JP) n. a judge who handles minor legal matters such as misdemean...
kangaroo court
n. 1) a mock court set up without legal basis, such as a fraterni...
lateral support
n. the right of a land- owner to assurance that his/her neighbor'...
law of the case
n. once a judge has decided a legal question during the conduct o...
lay a foundation
v. in evidence, to provide to the judge the qualification of a wi...
leading
1) v. short for "leading the witness," in which the attorney duri...
leading the witness
n. asking a question during a trial or deposition which puts word...
lewd and lascivious
adj., adv. references to conduct which includes people living tog...
life without possibility of parole
n. a sentence sometimes given for particularly vicious criminals ...
long cause
n. a lawsuit in which it is estimated that a trial will take more...
loss of consortium
n. the inability of one's spouse to have normal marital relations...
lower court
n. 1) any court of lesser rank, such as municipal or justice cour...
M'Naughten rule
n. a traditional "right and wrong" test of legal insanity in crim...
magistrate
n. 1) a generic term for any judge of a court, or anyone official...
mandamus
(man-dame-us) n. Latin for "we order," a writ (more modernly call...
marked for identification
adj. documents or objects presented during a trial before there h...
marriage
n. the joining of a male and female in matrimony by a person qual...
master
n. 1) employer, in the area of law known as "master and servant,"...
maxims
n. a collection of legal truisms which are used as "rules of thum...
McNabb-Mallory rule
n. a federal rule of evidence in criminal trials that prohibits t...
mediation
n. the attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participa...
mediator
n. a person who conducts mediation. A mediator is usually a lawye...
meet and confer
n. a requirement of courts that before certain types of motions a...
memorandum
n. 1) a brief writing, note, summary or outline. 2) A "memorandum...
mental cruelty
n. a term, rapidly going out of fashion and out of the statutes, ...
minutes
n. 1) the written record of meetings, particularly of boards of d...
Miranda warning
n. the requirement, also called the Miranda rule, set by the U.S....
mistrial
n. the termination of a trial before its normal conclusion becaus...
moral certainty
n. in a criminal trial, the reasonable belief (but falling short ...
motion
n. a formal request made to a judge for an order or judgment. Mot...
motion for a new trial
n. a request made by the loser for the case to be tried again on ...
motion for a summary judgment
n. a written request for a judgment in the moving party's favor b...
motion for dismissal
(non-suit) n. application by a defendant in a lawsuit or criminal...
motion in limine
(lim-in-nay) n. Latin for "threshold," a motion made at the start...
motion to strike
n. a request for a judge's order to eliminate all or a portion of...
multiplicity of suits
n. several actual or potential lawsuits which should be joined to...
N.O.V.
adj. shorthand acronym of Latin for non obstante veredicto (nahn ...
no contest
n. in criminal law, a defendant's plea in court that he/she will ...
nolle prosequi
(no-lay pro-say-kwee) n. Latin for "we shall no longer prosecute,...
nolo contendere
(no-low kahn-ten-durr-ray) n. Latin for "I will not contest" the ...
nominee
n. 1) a person or entity who is requested or named to act for ano...
non-suit
n. a ruling by the judge in a lawsuit either when the plaintiff (...
not guilty
n. 1) plea of a person who claims not to have committed the crime...
not guilty by reason of insanity
n. plea in court of a person charged with a crime who admits the ...
notice
n. 1) information, usually in writing in all legal proceedings, o...
nunc pro tunc
(nuhnk proh tuhnk) adj. Latin for "now for then," this refers to ...
O.R.
n. short for "own recognizance," meaning the judge allowed a pers...
obiter dicta
: (oh-bitter dick-tah) n. remarks of a judge which are not necess...
objection
n. a lawyer's protest about the legal propriety of a question whi...
off calendar
adj. refers to an order of the court to take a lawsuit, petition ...
offer of proof
n. an explanation made by an attorney to a judge during trial to ...
officer of the court
n. any person who has an obligation to promote justice and effect...
on file
prep. having been formally filed with the clerk of the court or t...
on the merits
adj. referring to a judgment, decision or ruling of a court based...
on the stand
prep. testifying during a trial, in which the witness almost alwa...
open court
n. the conduct of judicial proceedings (trials, hearings and rout...
opinion
n. the explanation of a court's judgment. When a trial court judg...
order
1) n. every direction or mandate of a judge or a court which is n...
order to show cause
n. a judge's written mandate that a party appear in court on a ce...
out of court
adj. referring to actions, including negotiations between parties...
overrule
v. 1) to reject an attorney's objection to a question to a witnes...
own recognizance
(O.R.) n. the basis for a judge allowing a person accused of a cr...
pardon
1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or President to fo...
parens patriae
(paa-rens pat-tree-eye) n. Latin for "father of his country," the...
penalty
n. 1) in criminal law, a money fine or forfeiture of property ord...
per curiam
adj. Latin for "by the court," defining a decision of an appeals ...
pierce the corporate veil
v. to prove that a corporation exists merely as a completely cont...
plea
n. 1) in criminal law, the response by an accused defendant to ea...
plea bargain
n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between the defendant and...
pornography
n. pictures and/or writings of sexual activity intended solely to...
prayer
n. the specific request for judgment, relief and/or damages at th...
preliminary hearing
n. in criminal law, a hearing to determine if a person charged wi...
preponderance of the evidence
n. the greater weight of the evidence required in a civil (non-cr...
presiding judge
n. 1) in both state and federal appeals court, the judge who chai...
presumption
n. a rule of law which permits a court to assume a fact is true u...
pro tanto
: (proh tahn-toe) Latin for "only to that extent." Example: a jud...
pro tem
1) adj. short for the Latin pro tempore, temporarily or for the t...
probation
n. a chance to remain free (or serve only a short time) given by ...
probative value
n. evidence which is sufficiently useful to prove something impor...
promissory estoppel
n. a false statement treated as a promise by a court when the lis...
proof
n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, proof is what ...
prove
v. to present evidence and/or logic that makes a fact seem certai...
quantum meruit
: (kwahn-tuhm mare-ooh-it) n. Latin for "as much as he deserved,"...
quash
v. to annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judg...
question of fact
n. in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, an issue of fact in whic...
question of law
n. an issue arising in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution which on...
quotient verdict
n. an award of money damages set by a jury in a lawsuit in which ...
reasonable doubt
n. not being sure of a criminal defendant's guilt to a moral cert...
receiver
n. 1) a neutral person (often a professional trustee) appointed b...
record
1) v. (ree-cored) to put a document into the official records of ...
recoverable
adj. referring to the amount of money to which a plaintiff (the p...
recusal
n. the act of a judge or prosecutor being removed or voluntarily ...
recuse
v. to refuse to be a judge (or for a judge to agree to a request ...
referee
n. a person to whom a judge refers a case to take testimony or ac...
rehearing
n. conducting a hearing again based on the motion of one of the p...
rejection of claim
n. in probate law (administration of an estate of a person who di...
release on one's own recognizance
v. for a judge to allow a criminal defendant pre-trial freedom wi...
remand
v. to send back. An appeals court may remand a case to the trial ...
remedy
n. the means to achieve justice in any matter in which legal righ...
remittitur
n. 1) a judge's order reducing a judgment awarded by a jury when ...
request
1) v. to ask or demand a judge to act (such as issuing a writ) or...
res adjudicata
n. a thing (legal matter) already determined by a court, from Lat...
res judicata
: (rayz judy-cot-ah) n. Latin for "the thing has been judged," me...
rogatory letters
n. a written request by a judge to a judge in another state askin...
rule
1) v. to decide a legal question, by a court, as in: "I rule that...
rules of court
n. a set of procedural regulations adopted by courts which are ma...
sanction
n. 1) a financial penalty imposed by a judge on a party or attorn...
sealed verdict
n. the decision of a jury when there is a delay in announcing the...
sealing of records
n. trial records and decisions which a judge orders kept secret. ...
search
v. 1) to examine another's premises (including a vehicle) to look...
search warrant
n. a written order by a judge which permits a law enforcement off...
self-defense
n. the use of reasonable force to protect oneself or members of t...
self-serving
adj. referring to a question asked of a party to a lawsuit or a s...
sentence
1) n. the punishment given to a person convicted of a crime. A se...
sequestration
n. the act of a judge issuing an order that a jury or witness be ...
service
n. 1) paid work by another person, either by contract or as an em...
service by publication
n. serving a summons or other legal document in a lawsuit on a de...
set aside
v. to annul or negate a court order or judgment by another court ...
settle
v. to resolve a lawsuit without a final court judgment by negotia...
settlement
n. the resolution of a lawsuit (or of a legal dispute prior to fi...
shield laws
n. statutes enacted in some states which declare that communicati...
short cause
n. a lawsuit which is estimated by the parties (usually their att...
shortening time
n. an order of the court in response to the motion of a party to ...
show cause order
n. an order of the court, also called an order to show cause or O...
sidebar
n. 1) physically, an area in front of or next to the judge's benc...
small claims court
n. a division of most municipal, city or other lowest local court...
special master
n. a person appointed by the court to carry out an order of the c...
special verdict
n. the jury's decisions or findings of fact with the application ...
specific finding
n. a decision on a fact made by a jury in its verdict and which t...
specific performance
n. the right of a party to a contract to demand that the defendan...
star chamber proceedings
n. any judicial or quasi-judicial action, trial or hearing which ...
stare decisis
: (stah-ree duh-sigh-sis) n. Latin for "to stand by a decision," ...
status conference
n. a pre-trial meeting of attorneys before a judge required under...
strike
1) v. to remove a statement from the record of the court proceedi...
sua sponte
: (sooh-uh spahn-tay) adj. Latin for "of one's own will," meaning...
submitted
n. the conclusion of all evidence and argument in a hearing or tr...
successive sentences
n. in criminal law, the imposition of the penalty for each of sev...
suffering
n. the pain, hurt, inconvenience, embarrassment and/or inability ...
summation
n. the final argument of an attorney at the close of a trial in w...
suppression of evidence
n. 1) a judge's determination not to allow evidence to be admitte...
supremacy clause
n. Article VI, section 2 of the U.S. Constitution, which reads: "...
surrebutal
n. in written or oral legal argument, the response to the other p...
surrogate
n. 1) a person acting on behalf of another or a substitute, inclu...
suspended sentence
n. in criminal law, a penalty applied by a judge to a defendant c...
sustain
v. in trial practice, for a judge to agree that an attorney's obj...
tax costs
n. a motion to contest a claim for court costs submitted by a pre...
time served
n. the period a criminal defendant has been in jail, often while ...
trade secret
n. a process, method, plan, formula or other information unique t...
trial
n. the examination of facts and law presided over by a judge (or ...
trier of fact
n. the judge or jury responsible for deciding factual issues in a...
vacate
v. 1) for a judge to set aside or annul an order or judgment whic...
variance
n. 1) an exception to a zoning ordinance, authorized by the appro...
venue
n. 1) the proper or most convenient location for trial of a case....
verdict
n. the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted b...
vexatious litigation
n. filing a lawsuit with the knowledge that it has no legal basis...
voir dire
(vwahr [with a near-silent "r"] deer) n. from French "to see to s...
warrant
1) n. an order (writ) of a court which directs a law enforcement ...
witness stand
n. a chair at the end of the judge's bench on the jury box side, ...
Workers' Compensation Acts
n. state statutes which establish liability of employers for inju...
writ
n. a written order of a judge requiring specific action by the pe...
your honor
n. the proper way to address a judge in court.

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The People's Law Dictionary by Gerald and Kathleen Hill Publisher Fine Communications