Glossary
Glossary

Acquit: To find a defendant not guilty in a criminal trial.

Admonishment: An authoritative statement made to the jury by the judge regarding their conduct as jurors.

Affidavit: A written or printed statement made under oath.

Affirm: The assertion of an appellate court that the judgment of the lower court is correct and should stand.

Allegation: An assertion, declaration or statement of a party to an action made in a pleading, stating what the party expects to prove.

Anonymous: When someone's identity is kept unknown.

Answer: A formal response made by the defendant, which admits or denies what is claimed by the plaintiff.

Appeal: Review of a case by a higher court.

Appellant: Party appealing a decision or judgment to a higher court.

Appellant court: A court having jurisdiction over appeal and review.

Appellee: The party against whom an appeal is taken.

Arbitration: The hearing and settlement of a dispute between opposing parties by a third party whose decision the parties have agreed to accept.

Arraignment: In a criminal case, a court hearing where a defendant is advised of the charges and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

Bail: An amount of money determined by the judge.

Bail bond: An agreement by a third party to pay a certain sum of money if the defendant fails to appear in court.

Bankruptcy: A legal proceeding where a person or business is relieved of paying certain debts.

Bench warrant: Process issued by the court itself or "from the bench" for the arrest of a person.

Beyond a reasonable doubt: Proof beyond a reasonable doubt is proof that leaves you with an abiding conviction that the charge is true.

Brief: A legal document, prepared by an attorney, which presents the law and facts supporting his or her client's case.

Burden of proof: Measure of proof required to prove a fact. Obligation of a party to prove facts at issue in the trial of a case.

Cause of action: A legal claim.

Challenges: The law authorizes the judge and lawyers to excuse individual jurors from service in a particular case for various reasons. If a lawyer wants to have juror excused than he or she must us a "challenge" for that juror.

Chambers: A judge's private office.

Change of venue: The removal of a case begun in one court, to another.

Charge: Formal accusation of having committed a criminal offense.

Civil case: A lawsuit is called a civil case when it is between two or more individuals or
corporations involved in a dispute and usually seeking a judgment awarding monetary damages.

Claim: The assertion of a right to money or property.

Closing argument: The closing statement, by counsel, to the judge or jury after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.

Complaint: A written claim filed by the plaintiff in a civil case.

Contempt of court: Any act that is meant to embarass, hinder or obstruct a court in the administration of justice. Direct contempt is committed in the presence of the court; indirect contempt is when a lawfull order is not carried out or is refused.

Convict: To find a person guilty of a charge.

Counsel: One or more lawyers who represent a client.

Counterclaim: A claim presented by the defendant in a civil case alleging that the plaintiff owes damages to the defendant.

Cross-examination: An attorney's questioning of a witness called to testify by the other side in the case.

Damages: Compensation awarded to someone who has suffered loss, detriment, or injury the their person, property, or rights.

Degree of Proof: The amount of proof necessary to prove a case. In a criminal case, such proof must be beyond a reasonable. In a civil case, the standard is proof by a preponderance of the evidence.

Deliberations: This occurs after a trial when a jury goes into the deliberation room to discuss the testimony and evidence to reach a verdict.

Deposition: Sworn testimony taken and recorded outside the courtroom but according to the rules of the court.

Directed verdict: After evidence has been presented and if no issue of fact remains for the jury to determine, the judge will tell the jury what verdict to return. The jury must return that verdict.

Discovery: A pretrial proceeding where a party to an action may be informed about the facts known by other parties or witnesses.

Dismissal with prejudice: Dismissal of a case by a judge which bars the losing party from raising the issue again in another lawsuit.

Dimissal without prejudice: The losing party is permitted to sue again with the same cause of action.

Docket: Book containing entries of all proceedings in a court.

Evidence: Any type of legal proof presented at trial through witnesses, records, and or exhibits.

Exhibit: Document or material object produced and identified in court as evidence in a case

Felon: A person convicted of a serious criminal offense punishable by imprisonment exceeding one year.

Fine: A sum of money imposed on a convicted person as punishment for a criminal offense or infraction.

Foreperson: At the beginning of deliberations, the jury votes to select one of its members to be the foreperson. The jury foreperson's duty is to preside and see that discussion during deliberations is carried on in a free and orderly manner. The foreperson counts and the votes and completes and signs the verdict form.

Fraud: An intentional perversion of truth; deceitful practice or device resorted to with intent to deprive another of property or other right or in some manner to do injury to that person.

Hearsay: Statements made out of court by someone other than the person testifying in court, which are offered to prove a matter in court.

Impartial: Without bias, prejudice, or other preconception.

Impeachment of a witness: An attempt to show that the testimony of a witness is not truthful, accurate, or reliable.

Inadmissible: Material or information that cannot be admitted or received as evidence under establishment rules of evidence.

Indictment: Written accusation of a grand jury, charging that a person or business has committed a crime.

Instruction: The guidelines given by the judge at the beginning and end of a trial that explain what the law in the case is and how the jurors should evaluate the evidence.

Judge: An elected or appointed official with authority to hear and decide cases in a court of law.

Judgment: Final determination by a court of the rights and claims of the parties in an action.

Juror: Member of the jury.

Jury: Specific number of people (usually 6 or 12) selected as prescribed by law to render a verdict in a trial.

Jury pool: The group of prospective jurors appearing for assignment to trial jury panels.

Jury summons: The papers sent to potential jurors that require their attendance in court for possible service on a jury.

Jury selection: The process by which jurors for a particular trial are selected from the larger group of potential jurors.

Leading question: A question that suggests to a witness the answer the attorney wants to hear.

Litigants: Any persons or groups engaged in a lawsuit.

Misdemeanor: A criminal offense that is less than a felony.

Mistrial: A invalid trial. Usually declared because of prejudicial error in the proceedings or when there was a hung jury.

Motion: A request made by an attorney for a ruling or an order by a judge on a particular issue.

Oath: Written or oral pledge by a person to keep a promise or speak the truth.

Objection: Statement by an attorney taking exception to testimony or the attempted admission admission of evidence and opposing its consideration as evidence.

Opening Statement: The initial statement made by attorneys for each side, outlining the facts each intends to establish during the trial.

Overrule: Court's denial of any or point raised to the court.

Parties: Persons, corporations, or associations who have commenced a lawsuit or who are defendants.

Pending: In process; not yet decided.

Perjury: A false statement made willfully and knowingly while under oath in a court proceeding.

Petition: Written application to a court requesting a remedy available under law.

Plaintiff: The party who begins an action; the party who complains or sues in an action and is named as such in the court's records.

Plea: A defendant's statement of "guilty" or "not guilty" to criminal charges made against them.

Pleadings: Formal or written allegations by both sides of their claims.

Polling: Calling the names of the jurors and having them state what their final verdict is before it is recorded.

Postpone: To put off until later.

Preponderance of evidence: Greater weight of evidence, or evidence that is more credible and convincing. Refers to the amount of proof required to win a civil case. It is that degree of proof that is more probable than not. It is a lower standard than that required in criminal a case.

Probable Cause: Reasonable cause; having more evidence for than against; a reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the basis of for all lawful searches, seizures, and arrests.

Probate: The legal process of establishing the validity of a will and setting an estate.

Probation: Set of conditions and regulations under which a person found guilty of a criminal offense is allowed to remain in the community, usually under the supervision of a probation officer.

Proceeding: Any hearing or court appearance related to the adjudication of a case.

Propound: To offer for discussion or consideration.

Prosecutions: Criminal legal proceedings.

Prospective: Likely to come about, relating to or effective in the future.

Reasonable doubt: If, in the minds of the jury, a doubt exists which may have arisen from the evidence, or lack of evidence, a doubt that would exist in the mind of a reasonable person after fully, fairly, and carefully considering all of the evidence, or lack of evidence.

Rebuttal: The introduction of contradicting or opposing evidence.

Redirect examination: Follows cross-examination and is carried out by the party who first examined the witness.

Reimbursement: Specific payment for out-of-pocket expenses.

Search warrant: A written order issued by a judge, directing a law enforcement officer to search a specific location for specific items or individuals.

Sequestration: A sequestered jury is usually housed together at night in a hotel and prohibited from contacting people outside of the court.

Settlement: An agreement between both parties in a civil case, eliminating the need for the judge to resolve the controversy.

Stipulation: An agreement by the attorneys that certain facts are true. Facts that have been stipulated do not need to be proven in the trial.

Subpoena: A subpoena is an official order to attend court at a stated time. The most common use of the subpoena is to summon witnesses to court for the purpose of testifying in a trial.

Testimony: Evidence given by a witness under oath.

Tort: An injury or wrong committed to a person or property for a which an injured party is requesting damages.

Unanimous: When all jurors agree on the verdict.

Verdict: The formal decision made by the jury.

Voir dire: A legal phrase meaning " to speak the truth." Voir dire is the preliminary examination of prospective jurors by a judge or lawyer to decide whether that person can serve on a particular jury.

Witness: One who can give a firsthand account of something seen, heard, or experienced.