SELECT A WORD TO VIEW THE COMPLETE DEFINITION:
paid into court
adj. referring to money deposited with the clerk of the court by a person or entity who knows that the money is owed but does not know to whom they should pay it until the outcome of a lawsuit between two other parties is decided. In short, the party handing over the money is saying: "Here is the mo...
pain and suffering
n. the physical and mental distress suffered from an injury, including actual broken bones and internal ruptures, but also the aches, pain, temporary and permanent limitations on activity, potential shortening of life, depression and embarrassment from scarring, all of which are part of the "general...
n. a substitute for alimony in cases in which the couple were not married but lived together for a long period and then terminated their relationship. The key issue is whether there was an agreement that one partner would support the other in return for the second making a home and performing other ...
1) v. to solicit customers for a prostitute. 2) n. a pimp, who procures customers for a prostitute or lures a woman into prostitution, all for his own profit. 3) v. catering to special interests without any principles, such as a politician who says to whatever group he/she is addressing just what th...
n. 1) a person who panders or solicits for a prostitute. 2) some politicians catering to special interests.
n. the list of people selected to appear for jury duty.
n. slang for a person who criminally writes and cashes "bad" checks on accounts he/she either does not have or which have no money in them.
n. 1) an equal level. 2) the face value of a stock or bond, printed on the certificate, which is the amount the original purchaser paid the issuing corporation. However, most common stocks are issued as "no-par value," and the value reflects the current market for the stock. Preferred stocks state a...
n. a non-lawyer who performs routine tasks requiring some knowledge of the law and procedures and who is employed by a law office or works free-lance as an independent for various lawyers. Usually paralegals have taken a prescribed series of courses in law and legal processes, which is much less dem...
n. a right to real property which prevails over any other person's claim of title.
n. a defined piece of real estate, usually resulting from the division of a large area of land. It can range in size from a small lot to a gigantic ranch. 2) a package.
1) v. to use the executive power of a Governor or President to forgive a person convicted of a crime, thus removing any remaining penalties or punishments and preventing any new prosecution of the person for the crime for which the pardon was given. A pardon strikes the conviction from the books as ...
(paa-rens pat-tree-eye) n. Latin for "father of his country," the term for the doctrine that the government is the ultimate guardian of all people under a disability, especially children, whose care is only "entrusted" to their parents. Under this doctrine, in a divorce action or a guardianship appl...
n. the lawful and natural father or mother of a person. The word does not mean grandparent or ancestor, but can include an adoptive parent as a replacement for a natural parent.
n. a crime consisting of acts or omissions of a parent (including a stepparent, adoptive parent or someone who, in practical terms, serves in a parent's role) which endangers the health and life of a child or fails to take steps necessary to the proper raising of a child. The neglect can include lea...
adj. equal fault.
n. 1) a geographic area served by a church (particularly Catholic) originally measured by whether people living in the area could walk to the church. 2) in Louisiana, the governmental equivalent of a county.
n. the humorous use of an existing song, play, or writing which changes the words to give farcical and ironic meaning. Parodies have been challenged as copyright infringements on the original works, particularly since some have reaped terrific profits. Recent decisions favor the parodies and say the...
parol evidence rule
n. if there is evidence in writing (such as a signed contract) the terms of the contract cannot be altered by evidence of oral (parol) agreements purporting to change, explain or contradict the written document.
n. 1) the release of a convicted criminal defendant after he/she has completed part of his/her prison sentence, based on the concept that during the period of parole, the released criminal can prove he/she is rehabilitated and can "make good" in society. A parole generally has a specific period and ...
adj. not complete or entire.
n. the failure to meet a term of a contract which is so minimal that it does not cause the contract to fail or justify breach (breaking the contract) by the other contracting party. A partial breach can be remedied (made up) by a small reduction in payment or other adjustment. Example: a landlord pr...
n. the result of an injury which permanently reduces a person's ability to function, but still permits some working or other activity. In worker's compensation cases an injured worker is often awarded a percentage rating of permanent partial disability, which will entitle him/her to a money settleme...
n. in a criminal trial, the result when the jury finds the defendant guilty of one or more charges but not guilty (or deadlocks) on one or more other charges.
v. to invest and then receive a part or share, as in business profits, payments on a promissory note, title to land, or as one of the beneficiaries of the estate of a person who has died.
n. a lawsuit which one co-owner of real property can file to get a court order requiring the sale of the property and division of the profits, or division of the land between the co-owners, which is often a practical impossibility. Normally, a partition order provides for an appraisal of the total p...
n. 1) one of the co-owners and investors in a "partnership" which is an on-going business enterprise entered into for profit. A "general partner" is responsible for the debts, contracts and actions of all the partners in the business, is an equal in management decisions unless there is an agreement ...
n. a business enterprise entered into for profit which is owned by more than one person, each of whom is a "partner." A partnership may be created by a formal written agreement, but may be based on an oral agreement or just a handshake. Each partner invests a certain amount (money, assets and/or eff...
n. 1) one of the participants in a lawsuit or other legal proceeding who has an interest in the outcome. Parties include plaintiff (person filing suit), defendant (person sued or charged with a crime), petitioner (files a petition asking for a court ruling), respondent (usually in opposition to a pe...
party of the first part
n. reference in a written contract to identify one of the people entering into the agreement. The agreement would read "Mary McConnell (hereinafter called The Party of the First Part)." Better practice is to identify the parties by a short form of their name ("hereinafter referred to as McConnell") ...
party of the second part
n. a reference to a party to a written contract, as distinguished from "the party of the first part."
n. a wall shared by two adjoining premises which is on the property line, such as in townhouses, condominiums, row houses or two units in a duplex. Both owners are responsible for maintaining structural integrity of the wall, even if the wall is entirely on the property of one of the parties.
n. a rider who has paid a fare on a train, bus, airline, taxi, ship, ferry, automobile or other carrier in the business of transporting people for a fee (a common carrier). A passenger is owed a duty of care by such a carrier and has a right to sue for damages for injuries suffered while being trans...
adj. referring to being inactive. A "passive trustee" is one who has no responsibilities other than to hold title or wait for an event which would activate the trust. "Passive income" for tax purposes includes any income in which there is no effort or active management, and is treated differently fo...
1) adj. obvious. Used in such expressions as a "patent defect" in an appliance. 2) n. an exclusive right to the benefits of an invention or improvement granted by the U.S. Patent Office, for a specific period of time, on the basis that it is novel (not previously known or described in a publication)...
n. an obvious inconsistency in the language of a written document.
n. an obvious flaw in a product or a document (such as leaving out the property description in a deed).
n. the manufacture and/or use of an invention or improvement for which someone else owns a patent issued by the government, without obtaining permission of the owner of the patent by contract, license or waiver. The infringing party will be liable to the owner of the patent for all profits made from...
n. often abbreviated to "pat. pend." or "pat. pending," the term is printed on a product to inform others that an application for a patent has been filed with the U.S. Patent Office, but the patent has not yet been granted.
n. a lawsuit, usually by a mother, to prove that a named person is the father of her child (or the fetus she is carrying). Evidence of paternity may include blood tests (which can eliminate a man as a possible father), testimony about sexual relations between the woman and the alleged father, eviden...
v. to pledge an item of personal property as security for a loan, with the property left with the pawnbroker. The interest rates are on the high side, the amount of the loan is well below the value of the pledged property, and the broker has the right to sell the item without further notice if the l...
v. to deliver money owed.
1) adj. referring to a debt which is due. A debt may be owed, but not yet payable until a certain date or event. 2) n. a debt which is due. "Payables" are all the liabilities (debts) of a business.
payable on demand
adj. a debt on a promissory note or bill of exchange which must be paid when demanded by the payee (party to whom the debt is owed).
n. the one named on a check or promissory note to receive payment.
payment in due course
n. the giving of funds to the holder of a promissory note or bill of exchange when due, without any knowledge that the document had been acquired by fraud or that the holder did not have valid title. The true owner of the bill or note cannot also demand payment, but must look to the recipient of the...
payment in full
n. the giving of all funds due to another. This language is often inserted on the back of a check above the place for endorsement to prove that the payee accepts the payment as complete.
(payer) n. the party who must make payment on a promissory note.
n. a bond required as part of a court order to guarantee that a person will stay away from another person he/she has threatened or bothered. The bond will be forfeit (given up) if the order is violated, but that is no consolation to a person injured, molested or murdered by the violator.
n. in real estate, holding property without any adverse claim to possession or title by another.
n. misappropriation of public (government) funds or property.
adj. relating to money, as in "pecuniary loss."
n. an obsession with children as sex objects. Overt acts, including taking sexually explicit photographs, molesting children and exposing one's genitalia to children, are all crimes. The problem with these crimes is that pedophilia is also treated as a mental illness, and the pedophile is often rele...
n. a person who stealthily peeks into windows, holes in restroom walls or other openings with the purpose of getting a sexual thrill from seeing women or girls undressed or couples making love. The term comes from the legendary Tom who was the one person who peeked when Lady Godiva rode her horse na...
n. an equal. A "jury of one's peers," to which criminal defendants are constitutionally entitled, means an impartial group of citizens from the judicial district (e.g. county) in which the defendant lives. It does not mean a jury ethnically, educationally, economically or sexually the same as the de...
n. an examination and evaluation of the performance of a professional or technician by a board or committee made up of people in the same occupation. This may arise in determining whether a person has been legitimately discharged, denied promotion or penalized by an employer, or is found to have fai...
adj. referring to criminality, as in defining "penal code" (the laws specifying crimes and punishment), or "penal institution" (a state prison or penitentiary confining convicted felons).
n. 1) in criminal law, a money fine or forfeiture of property ordered by the judge after conviction for a crime. 2) an amount agreed in advance if payment or performance is not made on time, such as a "late payment" on a promissory note or lease, or a financial penalty for each day a building contra...
n. in federal procedure, the policy that allows a federal court to decide a legal question normally tried in state courts because it is based on the same facts as a lawsuit which is under federal court jurisdiction. (It also may be spelled: pendant
(pen-den-tay lee-tay) adj. Latin for awaiting the litigation (lawsuit). It is applied to court orders (such as temporary child support) which are in effect until the case is tried, or rights which cannot be enforced until the lawsuit is over.
n. a state or federal prison in which convicts are held for commission of major crimes (felonies).
n. the designation for the prosecuting government in a criminal trial, as in People v. Capone. Such a case may also be captioned State v. Davis or in federal prosecutions, United States v. Miller.
prep. from Latin for "by means of" or simply, "by" as in "per day" (by day) or "per capita" (by head).
adj. Latin for "by head," meaning to be determined by the number of people. To find the per capita cost, the total number of persons are added up and the bill, tax or benefits are divided equally among those persons.
adj. Latin for "by the court," defining a decision of an appeals court as a whole in which no judge is identified as the specif- ic author.
adj. or n. Latin for "per day," it is short for payment of daily expenses and/or fees of an employee or an agent.
(purr say) adj. Latin for "by itself," meaning inherently. Thus, a published writing which falsely accuses another of having a sexually transmitted disease or being a convicted felon is "libel per se," without further explanation of the meaning of the statement.
(purr stir-peas) adj. Latin for "by roots," by representation. The term is commonly used in wills and trusts to describe the distribution when a beneficiary dies before the person whose estate is being divided. Example: "I leave $100,000 to my daughter, Eleanor, and if she shall predecease me, to he...
adj. absolute, final and not entitled to delay or reconsideration. The term is applied to writs, juror challenges or a date set for hearing.
n. the right of the plaintiff and the defendant in a jury trial to have a juror dismissed before trial without stating a reason. This challenge is distinguished from a "challenge for cause" (reason) based on the potential juror admitting bias, acquaintanceship with one of the parties or their attorn...
peremptory writ of mandate
(or mandamus) n. a final order of a court to any governmental body, government official or a lower court to perform an act the court finds is an official duty required by law. This is distinguished from an alternative writ of mandate (mandamus), which orders the governmental agency, court or officia...
: (with stress on the second syllable) v. 1) to complete; to take all required steps to achieve a result, such as obtaining a lien or other security by legal action or completing and filing all documents to present a case to a court of appeals. A mechanic's lien for labor and/or materials used to im...
adj. having completed all necessary legal steps to achieve a result, such as perfected title to property.
v. 1) to fulfill one's obligations under a contract. 2) to comply with requirements of a court order.
n. fulfillment of one's obligations required by contract. Specific performance of a contract may be demanded in a lawsuit. Partial performance is short of full performance spelled out in the contract, but if the contract provided for a series of acts or deliveries with payment for each of the series...
n. a person who intentionally lies while under an oath administered by a notary public, court clerk or other official, and thus commits the crime of perjury. A perjurer may commit perjury in oral testimony or by signing or acknowledging a written legal document (such as an affidavit, declaration und...
n. the crime of intentionally lying after being duly sworn (to tell the truth) by a notary public, court clerk or other official. This false statement may be made in testimony in court, administrative hearings, depositions, answers to interrogatories, as well as by signing or acknowledging a written...
n. an injury which impairs the physical and/or mental ability of a person to perform his/her normal work or non-occupational activities supposedly for the remainder of his/her life. Under worker's compensation laws (covering on-the-job injuries) once the condition is stable, a degree of permanent di...
n. a final order of a court that a person or entity refrain from certain activities permanently or take certain actions (usually to correct a nuisance) until completed. A permanent injunction is distinguished from a "preliminary" injunction which the court issues pending the outcome of a lawsuit or ...
n. physical or mental damage which will restrict the employment and/or other activities of a person for the rest of his/her life. In a lawsuit to recover damages caused by the negligence or intentional wrongful act of another, a permanent injury can be a major element in an award of general damages.
adj. 1) referring to any act which is allowed by court order, legal procedure, or agreement. 2) tolerant or allowing of others' behavior, suggesting contrary to others' standards.
1) v. to allow by silence, agreement or giving a license. 2) n. a license or other document given by an authorized public official or agency (building inspector, department of motor vehicles) to allow a person or business to perform certain acts. These can include building a structure, using a build...
n. 1) a human being. 2) a corporation treated as having the rights and obligations of a person. Counties and cities can be treated as a person in the same manner as a corporation. However, corporations, counties and cities cannot have the emotions of humans such as malice, and therefore are not liab...
n. things which include clothes, cosmetics and items of adornment. This is not the same as "personalty" which means all tangible property which is not real property, money or investments. The expression is often found in wills ("I leave my personal effects to my niece, Susannah").
n. same as "personalty."
n. delivering a summons, complaint, notice to quit tenancy or other legal document which must be served by handing it directly to the person named in the document. Personal service is distinguished from "constructive service," which includes posting the notice and then mailing a copy or publishing a...
n. in contract law, the talents of a person which are unusual, special or unique and cannot be performed exactly the same by another. These can include the talents of an artist, an actor, a writer or professional services. The value of personal services is greater than general labor, so woodcarving ...
n. movable assets (things, including animals) which are not real property, money or investments.
n. old-fashioned name for the jury sitting to hear a lawsuit or criminal prosecution, called "petit" (small) to distinguish it from a "grand" jury, which has other duties.
1) n. a formal written request to a court for an order of the court. It is distinguished from a complaint in a lawsuit which asks for damages and/or performance by the opposing party. Petitions include demands for writs, orders to show cause, modifications of prior orders, continuances, dismissal of...
n. one who signs and/or files a petition.
n. a term used in many states for theft of a small amount of money or objects of little value (such as less than $500). It is distinguished from grand larceny, which is theft of property of greater worth and a felony punishable by a term in state prison. Petty larceny is a misdemeanor with a maximum...
n. the right and obligation of a physician to refuse to testify in a trial or other legal proceeding about any statement made to him/her by a patient on the basis that any communication between doctor and patient is confidential. A patient could sue the physician for damages if the doctor breaches t...
n. standing or parading near a business or government office usually with signs of protest or claims in labor disputes or public policy controversies (peace marches to pro- or anti-abortion advocates). Picketing is constitutionally guaranteed as free speech, but in some cases it may be limited by co...
pierce the corporate veil
v. to prove that a corporation exists merely as a completely controlled front (alter ego) for an individual or management group, so that in a lawsuit the individual defendants can be held responsible (liable) for damages for actions of the corporation. If a corporation has issued stock and held regu...
n. a crime of theft of little things, usually from shipments or baggage.
n. a person who procures a prostitute for customers or vice versa, sharing the profits of the person's activities. Supposedly he provides protection for the prostitutes, but quite often he will threaten, brutalize, rape, cheat and induce drug addiction of the prostitutes. A pimp commits the crime of...
n. 1) slang for official automobile registration certificate, due to its color in some states. 2) slang for notice of being fired or laid off from a job.
n. the crime of robbery of ships or boats on the oceans. Accusation, trial and punishment of pirates may be under international agreement applicable anywhere, or under the laws of the particular nation where the accused has been captured.
n. taking the writings or literary concepts (a plot, characters, words) of another and selling and/or publishing them as one's own product. Quotes which are brief or are acknowledged as quotes do not constitute plagiarism. The actual author can bring a lawsuit for appropriation of his/her work again...
n. a mistake by the trial court found by a court of appeals to be very obvious and sufficient to require reversal of the trial decision.
plain view doctrine
n. the rule that a law enforcement officer may make a search and seizure without obtaining a search warrant if evidence of criminal activity or the product of a crime can be seen without entry or search. Example: a policeman stops a motorist for a minor traffic violation and can see in the car a pis...
n. the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the clerk of the court against the defendant(s) demanding damages, performance and/or court determination of rights.
n. the attorney who represents a plaintiff (the suing party) in a lawsuit. In lawyer parlance a "plaintiff's attorney" refers to a lawyer who regularly represents persons who are suing for damages, while a lawyer who is regularly chosen by an insurance company to represent its insureds is called a "...
n. 1) in criminal law, the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are "not guilty," "guilty," "no contest" (admitting the facts, but unwilling to plead "guilty," thus resulting in the equivalent of a "guilty" verdict but without admitting the cri...
n. in criminal procedure, a negotiation between the defendant and his attorney on one side and the prosecutor on the other, in which the defendant agrees to plead "guilty" or "no contest" to some crimes, in return for reduction of the severity of the charges, dismissal of some of the charges, the pr...
v. 1) in civil lawsuits and petitions, to file any document (pleading) including complaints, petitions, declarations, motions and memoranda of points and authorities. 2) in criminal law, to enter a plea of a defendant in response to each charge of criminal conduct.
n. 1) every legal document filed in a lawsuit, petition, motion and/or hearing, including complaint, petition, answer, demurrer, motion, declaration and memorandum of points and authorities (written argument citing precedents and statutes). Laypersons should be aware that, except possibly for petiti...
v. to deposit personal property as security for a personal loan of money. If the loan is not repaid when due, the personal property pledged shall be forfeit to the lender. The property is known as collateral. To pledge is the same as to pawn. 2) to promise to do something.
adj. full, complete, covering all matters, usually referring to an order, hearing or trial.
n. in some states a type of municipal court which handles misdemeanors (minor crimes) and traffic violations, as well as conducting arraignments (first appearances) and preliminary hearings of those accused of felonies to decide if there is cause to send the defendant to a higher court for trial. Po...
n. from the 10th Amendment to the Constitution, which reserves to the states the rights and powers "not delegated to the United States," which include protection of the welfare, safety, health and even morals of the public. Police powers include licensing, inspection, zoning, safety regulations (whi...
n. the determination by a court (particularly the Supreme Court) that an issue raised about the conduct of public business is a "political" issue to be determined by the legislature (including Congress) or the executive branch and not by the courts. Since 1960 the U.S. Supreme Court has been willing...
n. having more than one wife or husband at the same time, usually more than just two (which is "bigamy"). It is a crime in all states.
n. a lie detector device, from Greek for "many" (poly) "message" (graph) since numerous physiological responses are tested when questions are answered.
n. pictures and/or writings of sexual activity intended solely to excite lascivious feelings of a particularly blatant and aberrational kind, such as acts involving children, animals, orgies, and all types of sexual intercourse. The printing, publication, sale and distribution of "hard core" pornogr...
n. statutory man-made law, as compared to "natural law," which is purportedly based on universally accepted moral principles, "God's law," and/or derived from nature and reason. The term "positive law" was first used by Thomas Hobbes in Leviathan (1651).
(pahs-see coh-mitt-tah-tus) n. from Latin for "possible force," the power of the sheriff to call upon any able- bodied adult men (and presumably women) in the county to assist him in apprehending a criminal. The assembled group is called a posse for short.
v. to own, have title to, occupy, physically hold or have under exclusive control. In wills there is often the phrase "of which I die possessed," in describing the estate.
n. 1) any article, object, asset or property which one owns, occupies, holds or has under control. 2) the act of owning, occupying, holding or having under control an article, object, asset or property. "Constructive possession" involves property which is not immediately held, but which one has the ...
possession of stolen goods
n. the crime of possession of goods which one knows or which any reasonable person would realize were stolen. It is generally a felony. Innocent possession is not a crime, but the goods are generally returned to the legal owner.
n. in real estate, the intent and right of a person to occupy and/or exercise control over a particular plot of land. A possessory interest is distinguished from an interest in the title to property, which may not include the right to immediately occupy the property. Example: a long-term lease.
possibility of a reverter
n. the potential that the title to a real property interest will return to the original grantor or giver or to his/her lineal descendants. Examples of events which could cause the title to revert: A gift of property to a hospital on condition that it be used forever for health care, but if the build...
v. 1) to place a notice on the entrance or a prominent place on real property, such as a notice to quit (leave), pay rent or of intent to conduct a sheriff's sale, which requires mailing of a copy to the occupant to complete service of the notice. 2) to place a legal notice on a designated public pl...
n. Latin for "after death," an examination of a dead body to determine cause of death, generally called an autopsy.
n. a check delivered now with a written date in the future, so that it cannot be cashed until that date. The danger to the recipient is that such a check is legally only a promissory note due at the later date, and if the account is closed or short when the check is presented at the bank, the payee ...
n. slang for marijuana, an illeg- al narcotic.
pour over will
n. a will of a person who has already executed a trust in which all property is designated to be distributed or managed upon the death of the person whose possessions are in trust, leaving all property to the trust. A pour over will is a protection which is intended to guarantee that any assets whic...
n. the right, authority and ability to take some action or accomplish something, including demanding action, executing documents, contracting, taking title, transferring, exercising legal rights and many other acts.
power of acceptance
n. the ability to accept an offer and thus create a binding contract. In real estate an acceptance can only be made for a period specified in the offer, and the power is terminated permanently by the making of a counter-offer. Thus, one cannot make a counter-offer and then decide to accept the origi...
power of appointment
n. the right to leave property by will, transfer, gift or distribution under a trust. Such a power is often found in a trust in which each of the trustors (the creators of the trust, usually a husband and wife) is empowered to write a will leaving his or her share (or some part) to someone. If the p...
power of attorney
n. a written document signed by a person giving another person the power to act in conducting the signer's business, including signing papers, checks, title documents, contracts, handling bank accounts and other activities in the name of the person granting the power. The person receiving the power ...
adj. when something can be done or performed.
1) n. custom or habit as shown by repeated action, as in "it is the practice in the industry to confirm orders before shipping." 2) n. the legal business, as in "law practice," or "the practice of the law." 3) v. to repeat an activity in order to maintain or improve skills, as "he practices the viol...
v. to formally request judicial judgment, relief and/or damages at the end of a complaint or petition.
n. the specific request for judgment, relief and/or damages at the conclusion of a complaint or petition. A typical prayer would read: "The plaintiff prays for 1) special damages in the sum of $17,500; 2) general damages according to proof [proved in trial]; 3) reasonable attorney's fees; 4) costs o...
adj. referring to a wish or advisory suggestion which does not have the force of a demand or a request which under the law must be obeyed. Thus "precatory words" in a will or trust would express a "hope that my daughter will keep the house in the family," but do not absolutely prevent her from selli...
1) n. a prior reported opinion of an appeals court which establishes the legal rule (authority) in the future on the same legal question decided in the prior judgment. Thus, "the rule in Fishbeck v. Gladfelter is precedent for the issue before the court in this case." The doctrine that a lower court...
v. to die before someone else, as "if my brother, Harry, should predecease me, his share of my estate I give to his son, Eugene."
n. the rule of law that if the federal government through Congress has enacted legislation on a subject matter it shall be controlling over state laws and/or preclude the state from enacting laws on the same subject if Congress has specifically stated it has "occupied the field." If Congress has not...
n. the right of a shareholder in a corporation to have the first opportunity to purchase a new issue of stock of that corporation in proportion to the amount of stock already owned by the shareholder.
n. in bankruptcy, the payment of a debt to one creditor rather than dividing the assets equally among all those to whom he/she/it owes money, often by making a payment to a favored creditor just before filing a petition to be declared bankrupt. Such a preference is prohibited by law, and the favored...
n. a payment of a corporation's profits to holders of preferred shares of stock.
n. a class of shares of stock in a corporation which gives the holders priority in payment of dividends (and distribution of assets in case of dissolution of the corporation) over owners of "common" stock at a fixed rate. While the assurance of first chance at profits is a psychological and real ben...
n. in criminal law, a hearing to determine if a person charged with a felony (a serious crime punishable by a term in the state prison) should be tried for the crime charged, based on whether there is some substantial evidence that he/she committed the crime. A preliminary hearing is held in the low...
n. a court order made in the early stages of a lawsuit or petition which prohibits the parties from doing an act which is in dispute, thereby maintaining the status quo until there is a final judgment after trial.
n. planning, plotting or deliberating before doing something. Premeditation is an element in first degree murder and shows intent to commit that crime.
n. 1) in real estate, land and the improvements on it, a building, store, shop, apartment, or other designated structure. The exact premises may be important in determining if an outbuilding (shed, cabana, detached garage) is insured or whether a person accused of burglary has actually entered a str...
n. 1) payment for insurance coverage either in a lump sum or by installments. 2) an extra payment for an act, option or priority.
n. also called an antenuptial agreement, a written contract between two people who are about to marry, setting out the terms of possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of the property of each, and potential division if the marriage is later dissolved. These agreements are fairly ...
preponderance of the evidence
n. 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. This preponderance is based on the more convincing evidence and its probable truth or accuracy, and not on the amount of ...
n. an historic generic term for any writ (court order) directed to government agencies, public officials or another court.
n. the method of acquiring an easement upon another's real property by continued and regular use without permission of the property owner for a period of years required by the law of the state (commonly five years or more). Examples: Phillip Packer drives across the corner of Ralph Roundup's ranch t...
n. an easement upon another's real property acquired by continued use without permission of the owner for a period provided by state law to establish the easement. The problems with prescriptive easements are that they do not show up on title reports, and the exact location and/or use of the easemen...
n. 1) making a demand for payment of a promissory note when it is due. 2) a report to a court by a Grand Jury, made on its own initiative without a request or presentation of evidence by the local prosecutor, that a "public" crime (illegal act by public officials or affecting the public good) has be...
n. 1) in both state and federal appeals court, the judge who chairs the panel of three or more judges during hearings and supervises the business of the court. 2) in those counties or other jurisdictions with several judges, the one is chosen to direct the management of the courts, usually on an ann...
n. a rule of law which permits a court to assume a fact is true until such time as there is a preponderance (greater weight) of evidence which disproves or outweighs (rebuts) the presumption. Each presumption is based upon a particular set of apparent facts paired with established laws, logic, reaso...
presumption of innocence
n. a fundamental protection for a person accused of a crime, which requires the prosecution to prove its case against the defendant beyond a reasonable doubt. This is opposite from the criminal law in many countries, where the accused is considered guilty until he/ she proves his/her innocence or th...
n. the child of a person who has written a will in which the child is not left anything and is not mentioned at all. After the death of the parent, a pretermitted heir has the right to demand the share he/she would have received as an heir under the laws of distribution and descent. The reasoning is...
n. the winner in a lawsuit. Many contracts, leases, mortgages, deeds of trust or promissory notes provide that the "prevailing party" shall be entitled to recovery of attorney's fees and costs if legal action must be taken to enforce the agreement. Even if the plaintiff gets much less than the claim...
n. a criminal violation of federal antitrust statutes in which several competing businesses reach a secret agreement (conspiracy) to set prices for their products to prevent real competition and keep the public from benefitting from price competition. Price fixing also includes secret setting of fav...
: (pry-mah fay-shah) adj. Latin for "at first look," or "on its face," referring to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial. A prima facie case presented to a Grand Jury...
prima facie case
n. a plaintiff's lawsuit or a criminal charge which appears at first blush to be "open and shut."
n. the one person law enforcement officers believe most probably committed a crime being investigated. Once a person is determined to be a prime suspect, the police must be careful to give the "Miranda warnings," or take the risk that any admissions (any evidence gained from the statements) by the s...
n. from Latin for "first born," the ancient rule from feudal England (except in the County of Kent) that the oldest son would inherit the entire estate of his parents (or nearest ancestor), and, if there was no male heir, the daughters would take (receive the property) in equal shares. The intent wa...
n. 1) main person in a business. 2) employer, the person hiring and directing employees (agents) to perform his/her/its business. It is particularly important to determine who is the principal since he/she/it is responsible for the acts of agents in the "scope of employment" under the doctrine of re...
principal place of business
n. location of head office of a business where the books and records are kept and/or management works. In most states corporations must report their principal place of business to the Secretary of State.
n. an attempt to prevent publication or broadcast of any statement, which is an unconstitutional restraint on free speech and free press (even in the guise of an anti-nuisance ordinance). Stemming from the First Amendment to the Constitution, the ban on prior restraint allows publication of libel, s...
n. slang for a criminal defendant's previous record of criminal charges, convictions, or other judicial disposal of criminal cases (such as probation, dismissal or acquittal). Only previous felony convictions can be introduced into evidence. However, the record of "priors" can have an impact on sent...
n. the right to be first or ahead of the rights or claims of others. In bankruptcy law, the right to collect before other creditors is given to taxing authorities, judgment holders, secured creditors, bankruptcy trustees and attorneys. The right also can apply to mortgages, deeds of trusts or liens ...
n. the right to be free of unnecessary public scrutiny or to be let alone. Once a person is a "public figure" or involved in newsworthy events, the right to privacy may evaporate.
n. one who provides transportation or delivery of goods for money, just for the particular instance, and not as a regular business. It is distinguished from a "common carrier" which is in the business, such as buses, railroads, trucking companies, airlines and taxis. However, a private carrier may b...
n. the interference with an individual's peaceful enjoyment of one's property, which can be the basis for a lawsuit both for damages caused by the nuisance and an order (injunction) against continuing the noxious (offensive) activity or condition. Examples: fumes from a factory above the legal limit...
n. men's or women's genitalia, excluding a woman's breasts, usually referred to in prosecutions for "indecent exposure" or production and/or sale of pornography.
n. land not owned by the government or dedicated to public use.
n. a road or driveway on privately owned property, limited to the use of the owner or a group of owners who share the use and maintain the road without help from a government agency. A private road has not been given to a government entity (like a county or city) and accepted by that entity for publ...
n. a special benefit, exemption from a duty, or immunity from penalty, given to a particular person, a group or a class of people.
privilege against self incrimina-tion
n. a right to refuse to testify against oneself in a criminal prosecution or in any legal proceeding which might be used against the person. This privilege is guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution, which provides: "No person…shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness aga...
n. statements and conversations made under circumstances of assured confidentiality which must not be disclosed in court. These include communications between husband and wife, attorney and client, physician or therapist and patient, and minister or priest with anyone seeing them in their religious ...
privileges and immunities
n. the fundamental rights that people enjoy in free governments, protected by the U.S. Constitution in Article IV: "The citizens of each state shall be entitled to all privileges and immunities in the several States," and specifically to be protected against state action by the Constitution's 14th A...
n. contact, connection or mutual interest between parties. The term is particularly important in the law of contracts, which requires that there be "privity" if one party to a contract can enforce the contract by a lawsuit against the other party. Thus, a tenant of a buyer of real property cannot su...
adj. short for pro bono publico, Latin for "for the public good," legal work performed by lawyers without pay to help people with legal problems and limited or no funds, or provide legal assistance to organizations involved in social causes such as environmental, consumer, minority, youth, battered ...
1) prep. Latin for "as a matter of form," the phrase refers to court rulings merely intended to facilitate the legal process (to move matters along). 2) n. an accountant's proposed financial statement for a business based on the assumption that certain events occurred, such as a 20% increase in annu...
pro hac vice
: (proh hock vee-chay) prep. Latin for "this time only," the phrase refers to the application of an out-of-state lawyer to appear in court for a particular trial, even though he/she is not licensed to practice in the state where the trial is being held. The application is usually granted, but someti...
adj. short for "propria persona," which is Latin for "for oneself," usually applied to a person who represents himself/herself in a lawsuit rather than have an attorney.
(proh rat-ah or proh ray-tah) adj. from Latin for "in proportion," referring to a share to be received or an amount to be paid based on the fractional share of ownership, responsibility or time used. Examples: an heir who receives one-quarter of an estate may be responsible for one-quarter of the es...
(proh say) prep. Latin for "for himself." A party to a lawsuit who represents himself (acting in propria persona) is appearing in the case "pro se."
: (proh tahn-toe) Latin for "only to that extent." Example: a judge gives an order for payments for one year, pro tanto.
1) adj. short for the Latin pro tempore, temporarily or for the time being. In law, judge pro tem normally refers to a judge who is sitting temporarily for another judge or to an attorney who has been appointed to serve as a judge as a substitute for a regular judge. When an appeals justice is not a...
n. sufficient reason based upon known facts to believe a crime has been committed or that certain property is connected with a crime. Probable cause must exist for a law enforcement officer to make an arrest without a warrant, search without a warrant, or seize property in the belief the items were ...
1) n. the process of proving a will is valid and thereafter administering the estate of a dead person according to the terms of the will. The first step is to file the purported will with the clerk of the appropriate court in the county where the deceased person lived, along with a petition to have ...
n. a chance to remain free (or serve only a short time) given by a judge to a person convicted of a crime instead of being sent to jail or prison, provided the person can be good. Probation is only given under specific court-ordered terms, such as performing public service work, staying away from li...
adj. in evidence law, tending to prove something. Thus, testimony which is not probative (does not prove anything) is immaterial and not admissible or will be stricken from the record if objected to by opposing counsel.
n. evidence which tends to prove something which is relative to the issues in a lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
n. evidence which is sufficiently useful to prove something important in a trial. However, probative value of proposed evidence must be weighed by the trial judge against prejudicing in the minds of jurors toward the opposing party or criminal defendant. A typical dispute arises when the prosecutor ...
n. the methods and mechanics of the legal process. These include filing complaints, answers and demurrers; serving documents on the opposition; setting hearings, depositions, motions, petitions, interrogatories; preparing orders; giving notice to the other parties; conduct of trials; and all the rul...
n. any legal filing, hearing, trial and/or judgment in the ongoing conduct of a lawsuit or criminal prosecution. Collectively they are called "proceedings," as in "legal proceedings."
n. in law, the legal means by which a person is required to appear in court or a defendant is given notice of a legal action against him/her/it. When a complaint in a lawsuit is filed, it must be served on each defendant, together with a summons issued by the clerk of the court stating the amount of...
n. a person who serves (delivers) legal papers in lawsuits, either as a profession or as a government official, such as a deputy sheriff, marshal or constable.
n. 1) in admiralty (maritime) law, an attorney. 2) person who keeps order.
n. the responsibility of manufacturers, distributors and sellers of products to the public, to deliver products free of defects which harm an individual or numerous persons and to make good on that responsibility if their products are defective. These can include faulty auto brakes, contaminated bab...
n. a corporation formed for the purpose of conducting a profession which requires a license to practice, including attorneys, physicians, dentists, certified public accountants, architects and real estate brokers. Most states provide for such corporations under special statutes which allow the corpo...
v. to offer evidence in a trial.
n. forbidding an act or activity. A court order forbidding an act is a writ of prohibition, an injunction or a writ of mandate (mandamus) if against a public official.
1) n. a firm agreement to perform an act, refrain from acting or make a payment or delivery. In contract law, if the parties exchange promises, each promise is "consideration" (a valuable item) for the other promise. Failure to fulfill a promise in a contract is a breach of the contract, for which t...
n. a false statement treated as a promise by a court when the listener had relied on what was told to him/her to his/her disadvantage. In order to see that justice is done a judge will preclude the maker of the statement from denying it. Thus, the legal inability of the person who made the false sta...
n. a written promise by a person (variously called maker, obligor, payor, promisor) to pay a specific amount of money (called "principal") to another (payee, obligee, promisee), usually to include a specified amount of interest on the unpaid principal amount (what he/she owes). The specified time of...
n. a person who puts together a business, particularly a corporation, including the financing. Usually the promoter is the principal shareholder or one of the management team and has a contract with the incorporators or makes a claim for shares of stock for his/her efforts in organization. Most stat...
n. stock issued in a newly formed corporation and given to a promoter (organizer) of the corporation in payment for his/her efforts in putting the company together and locating shareholders or other funding. Most states (and the federal Securities and Exchange Act) limit promotional stock to an amou...
n. confirmation of a fact by evidence. In a trial, proof is what the trier of the fact (jury or judge without a jury) needs to become satisfied that there is "a preponderance of the evidence" in civil (non-criminal) cases and the defendant is guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt" in criminal prosecutio...
n. a person or entity who has an interest (financial or protection of some legal rights) in the subject matter of a lawsuit and, therefore, can join in the lawsuit as he/she/it wishes, or may be brought into the suit (as an unnecessary party) by one of the parties to the legal action. However, the j...
n. anything that is owned by a person or entity. Property is divided into two types: "real property," which is any interest in land, real estate, growing plants or the improvements on it, and "personal property" (sometimes called "personalty"), which is everything else. "Common property" is ownershi...
n. injury to real or personal property through another's negligence, willful destruction or by some act of nature. In lawsuits for damages caused by negligence or a willful act, property damage is distinguished from personal injury. Property damage may include harm to an automobile, a fence, a tree,...
n. an annual governmental tax on real property or personal property based on a tax rate (so many dollars or cents per $100 value of the property). The value is usually established by an Assessor, a county official. In California the assessed value of real property is based on the amount of the last ...
adj. from Latin, for oneself.
adj. referring to ownership.
n. a total or partial ownership.
n. those rights which go with ownership of real property or a business.
n. the owner of anything, but particularly the owner of a business operated by that individual.
v. 1) in criminal law, to charge a person with a crime and thereafter pursue the case through trial on behalf of the government. This is normally the function of the District Attorney (called States Attorney or city prosecutor in some places) and the U.S. Attorney in federal criminal cases. A state ...
n. 1) in criminal law, the government attorney charging and trying the case against a person accused of a crime. 2) a common term for the government's side in a criminal case, as in "the prosecution will present five witnesses" or "the prosecution rests" (has completed its case).
n. generic term for the government's attorney in a criminal case, including District Attorney, States Attorney, U.S. Attorney, Attorney General, Solicitor General, or special prosecutor. A special prosecutor may be assigned to investigate as well as prosecute if necessary when a government official ...
n. a detailed statement by a corporation required when there is an issuance of stock to the general public. A prospectus includes the financial status, the officers, the plans, contingent obligations (such as lawsuits) of the corporation, recent performance and other matters which would assist the p...
n. a person who receives payment for sexual intercourse or other sexual acts, generally as a regular occupation. Although usually a prostitute refers to a woman offering sexual favors to men, male prostitutes may perform homosexual acts for money or receive payment from women for sexual services. A ...
n. the profession of performing sexual acts for money. Prostitution is a crime throughout the United States, except for a few counties in the state of Nevada, where it is allowed in licensed houses of prostitution. Soliciting acts of prostitution is also a crime, called pandering or simply, soliciti...
n. the act of law enforcement officials in placing a person in a government facility or foster home in order to protect him/her from a dangerous person or situation. Most commonly a child who has been neglected or battered or is in danger from a violent person is taken in as a temporary ward of the ...
1) v. to complain in some public way about any act already done or about to be done, such as adoption of a regulation by a county board, sending troops overseas, or use of the death penalty. 2) v. to dispute the amount of property taxes, the assessed evaluation of property for tax purposes or an imp...
v. to present evidence and/or logic that makes a fact seem certain. A party must do this to convince a trier of fact (jury or judge sitting without a jury) as to facts claimed and to win a lawsuit or criminal case.
n. a generic term for any temporary order of a court to protect a party from irreparable damage while a lawsuit or petition is pending.
n. a term or condition in a contract or title document.
n. a happening which results in an event, particularly injury due to negligence or an intentional wrongful act. In order to prevail (win) in a lawsuit for damages due to negligence or some other wrong, it is essential to claim (plead) proximate cause in the complaint and to prove in trial that the n...
n. 1) someone who is authorized to serve in one's place at a meeting, particularly with the right to cast votes. 2) the written authority given to someone to act or vote in someone's place. A proxy is commonly given to cast a stockholder's votes at a meeting of shareholders, and by board members and...
prudent man rule
n. the requirement that a trustee, investment manager of pension funds, treasurer of a city or county, or any fiduciary (a trusted agent) must only invest funds entrusted to him/her as would a person of prudence, i.e. with discretion, care and intelligence. Thus solid "blue chip" securities, secured...
1) n. the people of the nation, state, county, district or municipality which the government serves. 2) adj. referring to any agency, interest, property, or activity which is under the authority of the government or which belongs to the people. This distinguishes public from private interests as wit...
n. a county official with the responsibility to handle the affairs of someone who has died with no known or available relative, executor or friend. At times the public administrator may be instructed by a court to assume similar duties for a living person when no conservator or guardian is available...
public benefit corporation
n. a term used in some states for a nonprofit community service corporation. Typical examples are clubs like Kiwanis, Rotary, soroptimists and Lions.
n. a general term for an indigent, sick or severely handicapped person who must be taken care of at public expense.
n. a corporation created to perform a governmental function or to operate under government control, such as a municipal water company or hospital.
n. an elected or appointed public official (usually of a county), who is an attorney regularly assigned by the courts to defend people accused of crimes who cannot afford a private attorney. In larger counties the public defender has a large case load, numerous deputy public defenders and office sta...
n. 1) in copyright law, the right of anyone to use literature, music or other previously copyrighted materials after the copyright period has expired. Although the copyright laws have been changed several times, a rule of thumb would be that the last possible date for copyright protection would be 5...
n. the right of the general public to use certain streets, highways, paths or airspace. In most cases the easement came about through reservation of the right when land was deeded to individuals or by dedication of the land to the government. In some cases public easements come by prescription (use ...
n. in the law of defamation (libel and slander), a personage of great public interest or familiarity like a government official, politician, celebrity, business leader, movie star or sports hero. Incorrect harmful statements published about a public figure cannot be the basis of a lawsuit for defama...
n. a nuisance which affects numerous members of the public or the public at large (how many people it takes to make a public is unknown), as distinguished from a nuisance which only does harm to a neighbor or a few private individuals. Example: a factory which spews out clouds of noxious fumes is a ...
n. property owned by the government or one of its agencies, divisions, or entities. Commonly a reference to parks, playgrounds, streets, sidewalks, schools, libraries and other property regularly used by the general public.
n. any information, minutes, files, accounts or other records which a governmental body is required to maintain and which must be accessible to scrutiny by the public. This includes the files of most legal actions. A court will take "judicial notice" of a public record (including hearsay in the reco...
public trust doctrine
n. the principle that the government holds title to submerged land under navigable waters in trust for the benefit of the public. Thus, any use or sale of the land under water must be in the public interest. Nevertheless, there has been a great deal of use for offshore oil drilling, for landfill, an...
n. the only purpose for which private property can be taken (condemned) by the government under its power of eminent domain. Public use includes: schools, streets, highways, hospitals, government buildings, parks, water reservoirs, flood control, slum clearance and redevelopment, public housing, pub...
n. any organization which provides services to the general public, although it may be privately owned. Public utilities include electric, gas, telephone, water and television cable systems, as well as streetcar and bus lines. They are allowed certain monopoly rights due to the practical need to serv...
n. 1) anything made public by print (as in a news- paper, magazine, pamphlet, letter, telegram, computer modem or program, poster, brochure or pamphlet), orally, or by broadcast (radio, television). 2) placing a legal notice in an approved newspaper of general publication in the county or district i...
v. to make public to at least one other person by any means.
n. the exaggeration of the good points of a product, a business, real property and the prospects for future rise in value, profits and growth. Since a certain amount of "puffing" can be expected of any salesman, it cannot be the basis of a lawsuit for fraud or breach of contract unless the exaggerat...
n. (synony- mous with exemplary damages), damages awarded in a lawsuit as a punishment and example to others for malicious, evil or particularly fraudulent acts.
adj. commonly believed, supposed or claimed. Thus a putative father is one believed to be the father unless proved otherwise, a putative marriage is one that is accepted as legal when in reality it was not lawful (e.g. due to failure to complete a prior divorce). A putative will is one that appears ...