Legal Glossary Terms
Allegation - A declaration from one party; stating what it expects to prove of the other party.
Arbitration - The overall settlement of a dispute by a third party’s decision that has been agreed upon by each opposing party.
Brief- An attorneys legal documents, which consists of the laws and facts surrounding their client’s case.
Burden of Proof – The measure of proof needed to confirm a fact. This obligates the party to probe the existing facts during the initial trial.
Civil Law - All areas of law that do not apply to criminal law. These settlements are usually disputes between organizations, groups, or individuals.
Cause of Action - This is a legal claim; a written statement by the maker under penalty of perjury.
Decree - A final decision of the court ending the suit. An interlocutory decree on the other hand is a preliminary decree which does not finalize the suit.
Due Process - This is a guarantee initiated by the Constitution that every accused person must be able to receive a fair and unbiased trial.
En Banc “On The Bench” - A group of judges hearing a case as one.
Expert Evidence - A testimony given by a qualified speaker in areas such as science and psychology.
Fact-finding Hearing - An arrangement to determine facts of relevance to resolve a controversy.
Fraud - A deceitful perversion of truth or device to intentionally deprive another party of property and/or rights while possible infliction of harm.
General Jurisdiction - The courts that take on all types of cases such as criminal and/or civil. The Superior Courts are considered to be courts of general jurisdiction.
Guardian Ad Litem - An appointed individual by the court to watch over a minor or person of incompetence who is engaged in a litigation process.
Hearsay - The evidence given by a witness who has overheard someone else say; rather than the actual observance of the act itself.
Hung Jury - An undecided verdict by the trial jury.
Impeachment of a Witness – A credibility attack on a witness by another witness and/or witnesses.
Inadmissible - Under the rules established of evidence; that which can not be admitted as evidence into the trial.
Jurisdiction - The overall authority of the court consisting of judicial power and the ability to exercise it.
Jury - A number of people selected to come to a decision regarding a given trial. A jury usually consist of 6 to 12 individuals.
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Limited Jurisdiction - Those courts that are limited to all forms of criminal and civil cases. Limited Jurisdiction courts consist of district, police and municipal courts.
Litigation - A lawsuit held within court.
Malpractice - The misconduct of a professional. If a claim is presented for malpractice against a professional or group of professionals, you must prove that your case was legitimate and that the actions of the professional were negligent.
Misdemeanor - A criminal offense that has not been considered a felony but is punishable by a fine or a short term of imprisonment. A gross misdemeanor consists of the higher fine potential and a longer jail sentence.
Objection - A statement by an attorney for the omission of attempted evidence given by the opposing attorney.
Omnibus Hearing - A pretrial hearing usually arranged the same day as the trial. This hearing is to ensure each party discovers all applicable information concerning the case. This is also the time for the judge to decide whether new evidence is accepted or admissible.
Peremptory Challenge - A procedure used to reject prospective jurors without reason. Each opposing side is permitted a restricted number of peremptory challenges.
Preponderance of Evidence - The standard of proof in cases or civil dispute. This consists of the overly convincing evidence presented by one side versus the opposing side’s evidence.
Reasonable Doubt - If the jurors cannot come to an abiding conviction with a “reasonable doubt” of guilt then the accused is able to proceed with an acquittal.
Remand - An appellate court action resulting in sending the case back to the court it originated from.
Statute of Limitations - In order for a party to ensure their rights are met, a judicial action should be taken within a given amount of time. The Statute of Limitations explains the time available for a given party to further with a case.
Stipulation - An agreement of the attorneys and/or opposing parties on the matter at hand within the trial proceedings.
Tort - An injury imposed by another of a person or property. If this is the case a claim for damages can be pursued.
Transcript – The official record kept by the clerk, of the trial proceedings.
Verdict – A trials final decision made by either a judge or jury.
Voir Dire - Also know as “To speak the truth.” This is the preliminary process of choosing potentially qualified jurors to observe a given case.
Willful Act - An act executed intentionally without the means of a justifiable cause.
Writ - A court order directing an individual either to perform or to cease from performing a particular act.
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