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Court Reporting

Legal Principles and Terminology

QuestionAnswr
aka also known as; frequently used in captions
abstract of title excerpts from the official records containing the essential information to show the chain of title to real estate and the facts of record that bear upon its marketability
ad damnum the clause of writ or declaration containing statement of damages claimed
ad hoc for the particular case at hand
adjudication the rendering of a decision; sometimes the decision itself
ad litem for the purposes of the suit
a fortiori with greater reason or convincing force
aliunde from another source; from outside
allegation the claim of fact that a party makes in a pleading
allocution formality of the court's inquiry of prisoner as to whether he/she has any legal cause to show why judgment should not be pronounced against him/her on verdict of conviction
amicus curiae friend of the court; one who volunteers information, with the courts permission, on matters of the law
ancillary auxillary, supplementary
annotations the case summaries which follow and construe the statues printed in the commercially produced statue books. They are not official.
answer the defendant's pleading which responds to the plaintiff's petition or complaint
ante listed prior in same index or material
appearance the act of submitting oneself to the court officially, usually by the attorney filing an appearance with the clerk
appellant the party seeking a change in the lower court's decision or administrative order by an appeal to a higher court
appellate court the court which hears appeals from the decisions of other courts, as contrasted with a trial court where the cases are litigated initially
arraignment in criminal law, the formal hearing at which the defendant is called before the judge to plead to the charge
asportation a carrying away; felonious removal of goods
attachment a procedure whereby the plaintiff secures a lien against the property of the defendant to satisfy an obligation which may not yet be determined
attorney of record the attorney whose name appears in the officail record as the lawyer representing the party
bail the process of taking some security to guarantee that an accused person will appear at a hearing or trial
bailiff the courtroom attendant who maintains order and facilitates the conduct of the trial
best evidence evidence from the most reliable source; an original as against a copy
bill of sale an instrument evidencing a transfer of personal property
brief the document that a lawyer files with the court arguing the law and facts in support of his/her case
burden of proof the duty that falls upon a party to prove a fact affirmatively
canon a system of correlated rules or standards
caption the heading on a pleading, containing name of court, county, parties, and the title of the document
causa mortis in contemplation of death
caveat warning
caveat emptor let the buyer beware
certiorari appellate review proceeding examining action of inferior cort for further informtaion; a writ of review or inquiry
chambers a judge's office
change of venue moving a case from one county to another
chattel an item of personal property
chattel real an item of personal property so affixed to the real estate as to considered a part thereof; a fixture
circumstantial evidence indirect evidence; evidence from which you can draw a conclusion, but it, itself, does not establish the fact
civil relation to private rigths and remedies sought by suit, distinct from criminal proceedings
code compilation of all existing law in effect under a system of subjects in a particular jurisdiction
collusion secret cooperation for a fraudulent purpose
common law law evolving from ancient custom, from judicial decision and csual statues, as contrasted with a concerted plan of statutory enactments
complainant the party making complaint, thus instigating prosecution in a legal action
complaint the first document filed in a lawsuit by the plainiff setting forth claim or case
condemnation the taking of private property for public use upon the payment of compensation
consideration in contract law, value given or received; can be money, services or property, or mutual performances; the factor that makes a contract binding
contempt of court acts which impede the court, it can be failure to carry out an order, or it can be disrepectful conduct
contingent fee the lawyer must win to get paid
contumacy subborn resistance to authority; rebelliousness
corpus delicti the body of the crime; that is, the physical object upon which the crime was committed
corroboration that which strengthens or confirms
costs the expenses of a trial or proceeding which may be charged to one or both of the parties, usually does not include attorney's fees
count a distinct statement of plaintiff's cause of action. a complaint or indictment nay contain one or more counts
counterclaim the claim thta a defendant may make against a plaintiff in the plaintiff's action against him
court of record court which is required to make a record of and preserve its proceedings
cross-examination interrogation of a party or a witness by the other side to test knowledge, observation, and credibility
d/b/a doing business as
damages the monetary redress which one seeks to recover from another
declaratory judgment one which simply declares the rights of parties or expresses opinion of the court on a question of law w/o ordering anything to be done. It is distinguished from other actions in that it does not see execution or performance from the defendant or opposing
decree an istrument effecting a transfer of real estate
default usually in pleading, a failure to take a required step within a specfied time; can result in a default judgment against the one who failed to act
defendant one against whom the action is brought
deja vu already seen; the illusion of having previously experienced something actually encountered for the first time
de jure legitimate; lawful
de minimis insignificant; minute; frivlous
demurrer a pleading which says, "I admit, for the purpose of argument, that your claimed facts are true, but those facts do not give you a valid claim agianst me
de novo anew; starting over as though not done before
deposition taking testimony outside the courtroom before a court reporter with the other side present for purpose of cross-examination; the testimony is given under oath and reduce to writing
dictum in a court's decision, the statement of a rule or principle of law which is not essential to the determination of the issues in a particular case but is used to explain the court's reasoning
digest a multi-volume collection of abbreviated case summaries arranged by subject matter; a research tool
directed verdict a verdict that the judge instructs the jury to return which it must do. Used when there are no factual issues for the jury to decide
direct evidence that offered by eyewitnesses as constrasted to circumstantial evidence from which conclusions are drawn
direct examination interrogation of one's own party or witnesses
discovery the pretrial process whereby one side seeks to discover facts known by the other side, may be done by means of deposition, written interrogatories, physical examination, or production of books and records
dismissal without prejudice dismissal without trial which permits party to bring another civil action for the same cause unless civil action is otherwise barred
dismissal with prejudice dismissal without trial which bars the assertion of the same cause of action or claim against the same party
dissent the opinion of a judge who does not agree with the majority of the court
dissolution termination; frequently used in dissolution of marriage
domicle the actual place that is home to the person; it is stronger than residence; you may have several residences simultaneously, but only one domicle
doble jeopardy being prosecuted twice for the same crime
due process according a person all of the rights and privileges afforded by the law
e.g. for example
easement a right of access onto, over, under, or across real property
emancipation freed of parental control although not yet having reached the age of majority
embezzlement fraudulent use of money entrusted to one's care
eminent domain the power to take private property for public use through condemation proceedings and compensation
en banc all of the judges of one court sitting together
enjoin usually to stop a person from doing some act by court order
equity (as used in trial work) means a system of justice for causes of action not governed by specific statues or law; negligence is a law action; injunction is an equity action
equity (as used in property or contract law) means the interest that person has in property he/she is mortgaging or is buying; the amount remaining over and above the amount of the mortgage thereon or balance due on the purchase price under the contract to buy the same
escrow held by a third party until an agreed event takes place
estate the total probate assets of a deceased person
et al and others
et seq and following
et ux and wife
exception a legal objection to ruling of court
exculpatory refers to evidence and/or statements which tend to clear, justify, or excuse a defendant from alleged fault or guilt
ex officio by virtue or because of an office
ex parte by or for one person, not adversary
ex relatione upon relation or information; legal proceedings which are instituted by the attorney general (or other proper person) in the name and behalf of the state, but on the information and at the instigation of an individual who has a private interest in teh mat
extradition surrender of an alleged criminal by one state to another
false pretenses the crime of knowingly making untrue statements for the purpose of obtaining money or property fraudulently
felony a serious crime established by statue; punishable by imprisonment
fiduciary a broad term for one who has a trust to preform; e.g. trustees, guardians, agents
foreclosure action to take possession of mortgaged property and to collect for amounts still due and owing thereon when the conditions set forth in teh mortgage have not been met
fraud intentional perversion of truth for purposes of persuading another to part with something of value
garnishee to take by legal authority
garnishment action compelling a third party (usually an employer) to pay some of the defendant's money to the plaintiff
grand jury hears criminal accusations and holds for trial or refuses to indict
guardian one appointed by the court to be responsible for the person and/or property of another
guardian ad litem appointed to protect a a minor defendant's interest during specific litigation
habeas corpus writ for the release of a prisioner
headnote the paragraphed material which precedes the opinion of the court describing the issues in a particular decision
heir one who inherits the property of another by operation of law rather than by will
hornbook law those principles of law which are known generally to all and are free from doubt and ambiguity
hostile witness witness who manifests so much hostility or prejudice under examination in chief that the party who has called the witness is allowed to cross-examine him/her; i.e., to treat witness as though he/she had been called by the opposite party
hung jury one which cannot agree on a verdict
hypothetical question a question asking an expert witness to assume proven facts and eliciting witness' opinion based on those facts
i.e. that is
impeachment destruction of witness' credibility
in camera in chambers
inculpatory that which tends to incriminate or bring about a criminal conviction
indictment a formal charge by a grand jury
infra below, later in this document
injunction a court order prohibiting some action
in limine on or at the threshol; at the very beginning; preliminary
in personam against a person to impose a liability or obligation
in re in the matter of; concerning
inter alia among other things
interlineation amending of pleading or motion by written insertion between words of lines already typed or printed
interlocutory temporary or intermediate; not final (temporary judgment...e.g, temporary custody until a final decision is made)
interrogatories written questions propounded by one party and served on adversary, who must serve written answers thereto under oath
inter vivos amoung the living, done during lifetime
irrelevant not pertinent; does not relate to the matter at issue
issue a pint of dispute between the parties to a lawsuit
joint tenancy an ownership of property by two or more persons; when one tenant dies, his/her interest passes to the other tenants
judgment formal decision given by court
judge pro tem lawyer appointed by judge to sit on bench when regular judge cannot be there
jurat synonymous with acknowledgement; place on document for signatures to be notarized
lease a document evidencing the transfer of the use of property for a limited time
lessee one who leases property from another; tenant
lessor one who leases property to another; landlord
levy seizing of property through a court order
levy imposition of tax
lex loci the law of the place
liable responsible; chargeable with
libel defamation by writing
lien a charge against property
lis pendens a pending lawsuit
litigate to carry on legal contest by judicial process
mala fides with bad faith
mandamus order of a higher court directing a lower court to take certain action
mesne intermediate
Miranda Rule Warning the requirement that a person receive certain warnings relating to privilege against self-incrimination (right to remain silent) and right to the presence and advice of an attorney before any custodial interrogation by law enforcement authorities
misdemeanor offense not punishabl by imprisonment in the penitentiary
mortgagee an entity who lends money to a borrower
mortgagor an individual or company who borrows money
motion in limine Latin for threshold, a motion made at the start of a trial requesting that the judge rule that certain evidence may not be introduced at trial
movant applicant for rule or order in court
nisi prius trial court where tried to jury as distinguished from appellate court
next friend the equivialent of a guardian, but not appointed as such; usually seen in litigation where next friend brings the action on behalf of a minor
nolle prosequi an entry on the record denoting that the plaintiff or prosecutor will proceed no further in action or suit
nolo contendere I do not contest the claim
non sequitur fallacy; it does not follow
nunc pro tunc entered at a time subsequent with retroactive effect
objection method of directing attention to an error in the cousre of the trial
open court when court is in session
`ordinance a municipal statue
parties the persons actively concerned in the prosecution and defense of a legal proceeding, such as plaintiff and defendant, this does not include counsel
pendente lite while suit is pending
per capita by the head; all eligible share and share alike
peremptory challenge excusing a prospective juror without explanation or reason
perjury false swearing
petitioner one making written request for relief in court
petit jury the ordinary jury,
plagiarism theft of literary property
plaintiff the person or company or corporation or any legal entity named in caption of lawsuit as bringing the action
plea a pleading in a civil or criminal case
pleading an instrument used to frame the issues in a lawsuit
poll after a verdict to examine each juror seperately as to concurrence in verdict
power of attorney written authorization to act as one's agent
praecipe any of various writs commanding a person to do something or to appear and show cause why he/she should not
prayer a request that the court will grant relief desired
preliminary hearing first appearance before a judge, for the purpose of determining whether there are grounds for prosecution
preponderance greater weight, said of evidence
pre-sentence a study of a defendant made by investigation by probation and parole officer prior to sentencing
primia facie on the first appearance, at first view, before investigation ( this type of case is such as will suffice until contradicted and overcome by other evidence)
pro hac vice for this occasion
prohibition order of a higher court ordering a lower court of official to refrain from taking certain action
pro se for oneself; in one's own behalf
punitive damages monetary compensation awarded to plaintiff in a lawsuit in excess of what compensates for property loss, awarded to redress for menatl anguish suffered from defendant's misconduct or to punish defendant for wrong or evil actions
putative commonly accepted or supposed
quash to set aside; as void
quasi judicial part judicial, of judicial character; often siad of administrative agencies
quid pro quo one equivalent for another
quitclaim to release or relinquish a claim; it releases right or title to another without professing validity of title
rebuttal state of trial proceedings demonstrating evidence of previous withnesses as untrue; the evidence itself
recidivist habitual criminal
Created by: amyswint