- I -
Immigrants - Persons who come into a foreign country or region
Immigration - The entry of foreign persons into a country to
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) - A federal
agency which regulates immigration and naturalization of aliens.
Immunity - Grant by the court, which assures someone will not
face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.
Impeachment - A criminal proceeding against a public official.
Impeachment of a witness - An attack on the credibility (believability)
of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.
Implied contract - A contract not created or evidenced by the
explicit agreement of the parties but one inferred by law; as the use of
electric power in your home implies a contract with the light company.
Inadmissible - That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot
be admitted or received as evidence.
Incapacity - Lack of legal ability to act; disability, incompetence;
lack of adequate power.
Incarceration - Imprisonment in a jail or penitentiary.
Incompetent - One who lacks ability, legal qualification, or
fitness to manage his own affairs.
Independent executor - A special kind of executor, permitted
by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without
intervention by the court.
Indeterminate sentence - A sentence of imprisonment to a specified
minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute,
subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after
the prisoner has served the minimum term.
Indictment - A written accusation by a grand jury charging a
person with a crime. (See information.)
Indigent - Needy or impoverished. A defendant who can demonstrate
his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a court-appointed attorney
at public expense.
Initial appearance - The defendant comes before a judge within
hours of the arrest to determine whether or not there is probable cause
for his or her arrest.
Information - Accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing
the charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it
serves to bring a defendant to trial.
Infraction - A violation of law not punishable by imprisonment.
Minor traffic offenses generally are considered infractions.
Inheritance tax - A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary
under a will receives from a deceased person's estate. The heir or beneficiary
pays this tax.
Injunction - A prohibitive order or remedy issued by the court
at the suit of the complaining party, which forbids the defendant to do
some act which he is threatening or attempting to do. Conversely, it may
require him to perform an act which he is obligated to perform but refuses
Insolvent - When the total debt of an entity is greater than
all of its property.
Instructions - Judge's explanation to the jury before it begins
deliberations of the question it must answer and the applicable law governing
the case. (Also referred to as charge.)
Intangible assets - Nonphysical items such as stock certificates,
bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be
taken into account in estate planning.
Intentional tort - Wrong perpetrated by one who intends to break
Interlocutory - Temporary; provisional; interim; not final.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - The federal agency which administers
the tax laws of the United States.
Interrogatories - A set or series of written questions propounded
to a party, witness, or other person having information or interest in
a case; a discovery device.
Interstate Commerce (ICC) - A federal agency which regulates
all transportation in Commission interstate commerce.
Intervention - An action by which a third person who may be affected
by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit.
Involuntary bankruptcy - A proceeding initiated by creditors
requesting the bankruptcy court to place a debtor in liquidation.
Issue - 1. The disputed pint in a disagreement between parties
in a lawsuit. 2. To send out officially, as in to issue an order.
- J -
Joint and several liability - A legal doctrine that makes each
of the parties who are responsible for an injury, liable for all the damages
awarded in a lawsuit if the other parties responsible cannot pay.
Joint tenancy - A form of legal co-ownership of property (also
known as survivorship). At the death of one co-owner, the surviving co-owner
becomes sole owner of the property. Tenancy by the entirety is a special
form of joint tenancy between a husband and wife.
Judge - A presiding officer of the court.
Judgment - The official and authentic
decision of a court of justice upon the rights and claims of parties to
an action or suit submitted to the court for determination. (See also summary
Judgment debtor - One who owes money as a result of a judgment
in favor of a creditor.
Judicial lien - A lien obtained by judgment or other judicial
process against a debtor.
Judicial review - The authority of a court to review the official
actions of other branches of government. Also, the authority to declare
unconstitutional the actions of other branches.
Judiciary - The branch of government invested with judicial power
to interpret and apply the law; the court system; the body of judges; then
Jurat - Certificate of person and officer before whom a writing
is sworn to.
Jurisdiction - The power or authority of a court to hear and
try a case; the geographic area in which a court has power or the types
of cases it has power to hear.
Jurisprudence- The study of law and the structure of the legal
Jury - A certain number of men and women selected
according to law and sworn to try a question of fact or indict a person
for public offense.
Jury Administrator - The court officer responsible for choosing
the panel of persons to serve as potential jurors for a particular court
Justiciable - Issues and claims capable of being properly examined