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business law

chapter three

Certiorari, writ of Formal notice from the United States Supreme Court that it will accept a case for review.
In camera “In the judge’s chambers,” meaning that the judge does something out of view of the jury and the public.
Voir dire The process of selecting a jury. Attorneys for the parties and the judge may inquire of prospective jurors whether they are biased or incapable of rendering a fair and impartial verdict.
Alternative dispute resolution Any method of resolving a legal conflict other than litigation, such as: negotiation, arbitration, mediation, mini-trials, and summary jury trials.
Answer The pleading, filed by the defendant in court and served on the plaintiff, which responds to each allegation in the plaintiff’s complaint.
Appellant The party who appeals a lower court decision to a higher court.
Appellate court Any court in a state or federal system that reviews cases that have already been tried.
Appellee The party opposing an appeal from a lower court to a higher court.
Arbitration A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties hire a neutral third party to hear their respective arguments, receive evidence, and then make a binding decision.
Beyond a reasonable doubt The government’s burden in a criminal prosecution.
Brief The written legal argument that an attorney files with an appeal court.
Challenge for cause An attorney’s request, during voir dire, to excuse a prospective juror because of apparent bias.
Class action A method of litigating a civil lawsuit in which one or more plaintiffs (or occasionally defendants) seek to represent an entire group of people with similar claims against a common opponent.
Complaint A pleading, filed by the plaintiff, providing a short statement of the claim.
Counter-claim A claim made by the defendant against the plaintiff.
Cross-examination During a hearing, for a lawyer to question an opposing witness.
Default judgment Court order awarding one party everything it requested because the opposing party failed to respond in time.
Deponent The person being questioned in a deposition.
Deposition A form of discovery in which a party’s attorney has the right to ask oral questions of the other party or of a witness. Answers are given under oath.
Direct examination During a hearing, when a lawyer asks questions of his own witness.
Directed verdict The decision by a court to instruct a jury that it must find in favor of a particular party because, in the judge’s opinion, no reasonable person could disagree on the outcome.
Discovery A stage in litigation, after all pleadings have been served, in which each party seeks as much relevant information as possible about the opposing party’s case.
Dismiss To terminate a lawsuit, often on procedural grounds, without reaching the merits of the case.
Diversity jurisdiction One of the two main types of civil cases that a United States district court has the power to hear. It involves a lawsuit between citizens of different states, in which at least one party makes a claim for more than $75,000.
Error of law A mistake made by a trial judge that concerns a legal issue as opposed to a factual matter. Permitting too many leading questions is a legal error; choosing to believe one witness rather than another is a factual matter.
Evidence, rules of Law governing the proof offered during a trial or formal hearing. These rules limit the questions that may be asked of witnesses and the introduction of physical objects.
Expert witness A witness in a court case who has special training or qualifications to discuss a specific issue, and who is generally permitted to state an opinion.
Federal question jurisdiction One of the two main types of civil cases that a United States district court has the power to hear. It involves a federal statute or a constitutional provision.
Harmless error A ruling made by a trial court which an appeals court determines was legally wrong but not fatal to the decision.
Instructions or charge The explanation given by a judge to a jury, outlining the jury’s task in deciding a lawsuit and the underlying rules of law the jury should use in reaching its decision.
Interrogatory A form of discovery in which one party sends to an opposing party written questions that must be answered under oath.
Judgment non obstante veredicto (n.o.v.) “Judgment notwithstanding the verdict.” A trial judge overturns the verdict of the jury and enters a judgment in favor of the opposing party.
Jurisdiction The power of a court to hear a particular dispute, civil or criminal, and to make a binding decision.
Litigation The process of resolving disputes through formal court proceedings.
Mediation The process of using a neutral person to aid in the settlement of a legal dispute. A mediator’s decision is non-binding.
Modify An appellate court order changing a lower court ruling.
Motion A formal request that a court take some specified step during litigation. A motion to compel discovery is a request that a trial judge order the other party to respond to discovery.
Motion for a protective order A request that the court limit discovery.
Peremptory challenge During voir dire, a request by one attorney that a prospective juror be excused for an unstated reason.
Pleadings The documents that begin a lawsuit: the complaint, the answer, the counter-claim and reply.
Preponderance of the evidence The level of proof that a plaintiff must meet to prevail in a civil lawsuit. It means that the plaintiff must offer evidence that, in sum, is slightly more persuasive than the defendant’s evidence.
Production of documents and things A form of discovery in which one party demands that the other furnish original documents or physical things, relating to the suit, for inspection and copying.
Protective order A court order limiting one party’s discovery.
Reasonable doubt The level of proof that the government must meet to convict the defendant in a criminal case. The factfinder must be persuaded to a very high degree of certainty that the defendant did what the government alleges.
Reply A pleading, filed by the plaintiff in response to a defendant’s counter-claim.
Request for admission A form of discovery in which one party demands that the opposing party either admit or deny particular factual or legal allegations.
Reverse The power of an appellate court to overrule a lower court and grant judgment for the party that had lost in the lower court.
Summary judgment The power of a trial court to terminate a lawsuit before a trial has begun, on the grounds that no essential facts are in dispute.
Trial court Any court in a state or federal system that holds formal hearings to determine the facts in a civil or criminal case.
Verdict The decision of the factfinder in a case.
Writ of certiorari A petition asking the Supreme Court to hear a case.
Burden of proof The allocation of which party must prove its case. In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden of proof to persuade the factfinder of every element of her case. In a criminal case, the government has the burden of proof.
Created by: jmaris289