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Capital crime -A crime punishable by death.
Calendar -A list of cases scheduled for hearing in court.
Canons of ethics -Standards of ethical conduct for attorneys.
Capacity -Having legal authority or mental ability. Being of
Caption -Heading or introductory party of a pleading.
Case law -Law established by previous decisions of appellate
courts, particularly the United States Supreme Court. (See stare decisis
in Foreign Words Glossary.)
Cases -General term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy,
at law or in equity; questions contested before a court of justice.
Cause - A lawsuit, litigation, or action. Any question, civil
or criminal, litigated or contested before a court of justice.
Cause of action -The fact or facts which give a person a right
to relief in court.
Caveat -A warning; a note of caution.
Censure -An official reprimand or condemnation of an attorney.
(See disbarment or suspension.)
Certificate of Title -Document issued by Registrar of Titles
for real estate registered under the Torrens System, which is considered
conclusive evidence of the present ownership and state of the title to
the property described therein.
Certification -1. Written attestation. 2. Authorized declaration
verifying that an instrument is a true and correct copy of the original.
Certiorari -A writ of review issued by a higher court to a lower
court. A means of getting an appellate court to review a lower court's
decision. If an appellate court grants a writ of certiorari, it agrees
to take the appeal. (Sometimes referred to as "granting cert.")
Challenge -An objection, such as when an attorney objects at
a hearing to the seating of a particular person on a civil or criminal
Challenge for cause -A request from a party to a judge that a
certain prospective juror not be allowed to be a member of a jury because
of specified causes or reasons. (Also, see peremptory challenge.)
Chambers -A judge's private office. A hearing in chambers takes
place in the judge's office outside of the presence of the jury and the
Change of venue -Moving a lawsuit or criminal trial to another
place for trial. (See venue.)
Charge to the jury -The judge's instructions to the jury concerning
the law that applies to the facts of the case on trial.
Chief judge -Presiding or administrative judge in a court.
Chattel -An article of personal property.
Child -Offspring of parentage; progeny.
Chronological -Arranged in the order in which events happened;
according to date.
Circumstantial evidence -All evidence except eyewitness testimony.
One example is physical evidence, such as fingerprints, from which an inference
can be drawn.
Citation -A writ or order issued by a court commanding the person
named therein to appear at the time and place named; also the written reference
to legal authorities, precedents, reported cases, etc., in briefs or other
Citators -A set of books which provides the subsequent history
of reported decisions through a form of abbreviations or words. Most widely
used are Chopart's Citations.
Civil -Relating to private rights and remedies sought by civil
actions as contrasted with criminal proceedings.
Civil action -An action brought to enforce or protect private
Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) -A commission which promotes and
regulates the civil air transport industry in the U.S. and between the
U.S. and foreign countries.
Civil law Law based on a series of written codes or laws.
Civil procedure -The rules and process by which a civil case
is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules
of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.
Civil Service Commission -A federal agency which regulates the
hiring of government employees.
Claim -A debt owing by a debtor to another person or business.
In probate parlance, the term used for debts of the decedent and a procedure
that must be followed by a creditor to obtain payment from his estate.
Class action -A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf
of a larger group.
Clayton Act -A federal law which is an amendment to the Sherman
Act dealing with antitrust regulations and unfair trade practices.
Clean air acts -Federal and state environmental statutes enacted
to regulate and control air pollution.
Clear and convincing evidence -Standard of proof commonly used
in civil lawsuits and in regulatory agency cases. It governs the amount
of proof that must be offered in order for the plaintiff to win the case.
Clemency or executive clemency -Act of grace or mercy by the
president or governor to ease the consequences of a criminal act, accusation,
or conviction. (Sometimes known as commutation or pardon.)
Clerk of Court -Administrator or chief clerical officer of the
Closing argument -The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier
of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.
Code of Federal Regulations -An annual publication which contains
the cumulative executive agency regulations.
Code of Professional -The rules of conduct that govern the legal
profession Responsibility .
Codicil An amendment to a will.
Collate -To arrange in order; verify arrangement of pages before
binding or fastening; put together.
Collective mark -Trademark or service mark used by members of
a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization.
Commit -To send a person to prison, asylum, or reformatory by
a court order.
Common law -Also case law. Law established by subject matter
heard in earlier cases.
Commutation -The reduction of a sentence, as from death to life
Comparative fault -A rule in admiralty law where each vessel
involved in a collision is required to pay a share of the total damages
in proportion to its percentage of fault.
Comparative negligence -The rule under which negligence is measured
by percentage, and damages are diminished in proportion to the amount of
negligence attributable to the person seeking recovery.
Complainant -The party who complains or sues; one who applies
to the court for legal redress. (See also plaintiff.)
Complaint -1. The legal document that usually begins a civil
lawsuit. It states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked
to take. 2. Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal
Conciliation -A form of alternative dispute resolution in which
the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps lower
tensions, improve communications, and explore possible solutions. Conciliation
is similar to mediation, but is may be less formal.
Concurrent sentences -Sentences for more than one crime that
are to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other. (See
also cumulative or consecutive sentences.)
Condemnation -The legal process by which the government takes
private land for public use, paying the owners a fair price. (See eminent
Conformed copy -An exact copy of a document on which has been
written things that could not or were not copied, i.e., a written signature
is replaced on the conformed copy with a notation that it was signed by
Consecutive sentences -Successive sentences, one beginning at
the expiration of another, imposed against a person convicted of two or
more violations. (See also cumulative or concurrent sentences.)
Consent -Agreement; voluntary acceptance of the wish of another.
Conservatorship -Legal right given to a person to manage the
property and financial affairs of a person deemed incapable of doing that
for himself or herself. (See also guardianship.)
Consideration -The price bargained for and paid for a promise,
goods, or real estate.
Constitution -The fundamental law of a nation or state which
establishes the character and basic principles of the government.
Constitutional law -Law set forth in the Constitution of the
United States and the state constitutions.
Consumer bankruptcy -A proceeding under the Bankruptcy Code filed
by an individual (or husband and wife) who is not in business.
Contempt of court -Willful disobedience of a judge's command
or of an official court order.
Continuance -Postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.
Contract -An agreement between two or more persons which creates
an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing. A legally enforceable
agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in
Contributory negligence -The rule of law under which an act or
omission of plaintiff is a contributing cause of injury and a bar to recovery.
Conveyance -Instrument transferring title of land for one person
or group of persons to another.
Conviction -A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.
Corroborating evidence -Supplementary evidence that tends to
strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.
Counsel -A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in
Counterclaim -A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit
against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.
Court -A body in government to which the administration of justice
Court-appointed attorney -Attorney appointed by the court to
represent a defendant, usually with respect to criminal charges and without
the defendant having to pay for the representation.
Court costs -The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit,
other than the attorney fees. An amount of money may be awarded to the
successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement
for court costs.
Court of original jurisdiction -A court where a matter is initiated
and heard in the first instance; a trial court.
Court reporter A person who transcribes by shorthand or stenographically
takes down testimony during court proceedings, a deposition, or other trial-related
Court rules-Regulations governing practice and procedure in the
Creditor -A person to whom a debt is owed by another.
Crime -An act in violation of the penal laws of a state or the
United States. A positive or negative act in violation of penal law.
Criminal justice system- The network of courts and tribunals
which deal with criminal law and its enforcement.
Cross-claim- A pleading which asserts a claim arising out of
the same subject action as the original complaint against a co-party, i.e.,
one co-defendant cross claims against another co-defendant for contribution
for any damages assessed against him.
Cross-examination- The questioning
of a witness produced by the other side.
Cumulative sentences-Sentences for two or more crimes to run
consecutively, rather than concurrently.
Custody- Detaining of a person by lawful process or authority
to assure his or her appearance to any hearing; the jailing or imprisonment
of a person convicted of a crime.
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Damages - Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the
unlawful actor negligence of another person.
Debtor - One who owes a debt to another; a person filing for
relief under theBankruptcy Code.
Decision - The opinion of the court in concluding a case at law.
Declaratory judgment - A statutory remedy for judicial determination
of a controversy where plaintiff is in doubt about his legal rights.
Decree - An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully
and finally disposes of the litigation. (See interlocutory.)
Defamation - That which tends to injure a person's reputation.
(See libel and slander.)
Default - Failure of the defendant to appear and answer the summons
Default judgment - A judgment entered against a party who fails
to appear in court or respond to the charges.
Defendant - The person defending or denying a suit.
Defense of property - Affirmative defense in criminal law or
tort law where force was used to protect one's property.
Deficient - Incomplete; defective; not sufficient in quantity
Defunct - A corporation no longer operative; having ceased to
Demurrer - A pleading filed by the defendant that the complaint
as filed is not sufficient to require an answer.
Dependent - One who derives existence and support from another.
Deposition - Testimony of a witness or a party taken under oath
outside the courtroom, the transcript of which becomes a part of the court's
Digest - An index or compilation of abstracts of reported cases
into one, set forth under proper law topic headings or titles and usually
in alphabetical arrangement.
Direct evidence - Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done
or heard words spoken.
Direct examination - The first questioning of witnesses by the
party on whose behalf they are called.
Directed verdict - In a case in which the plaintiff has failed
to present on the facts of his case proper evidence for jury consideration,
the trial judge may order the entry of a verdict without allowing the jury
to consider it.
Disbarment - Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the
loss (often permanently) of that lawyer's right to practice law. (See censure
Discharge - The name given to the bankruptcy court's formal discharge
of a debtor's debts. In probate, the release of the estate's representative
from fiduciary responsibility.
Disclaim - To refuse a gift made in a will.
Discovery - The name given pretrial devices for obtaining facts
and information about the case.
Dismissal - The termination of a lawsuit. (See with prejudice
and without prejudice.)
Dissent To disagree. - An appellate court opinion setting forth
the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges
with the decision of the majority.
Dissolution - The termination; process of dissolving or winding
Diversity of citizenship - The condition when the party on one
side of a lawsuit is a citizen of one state and the other party is a citizen
of another state; such cases are under the jurisdiction of federal courts.
Diversion - The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic,
or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that
the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for
Docket - An abstract or listing of all pleadings filed in a case;
the book containing such entries; trial docket is a list of or calendar
of cases to be tried in a certain term.
Docket control - A system for keeping track of deadlines and
court dates for both litigation and non-litigation matters.
Domicile - The place where a person has his permanent home to
which he intends to return.
Double jeopardy - Putting a person on trial more than once for
the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the United States
Due process of law - The right of all persons to receive the
guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes
such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel,
and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial
jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.