Legal Term Glossary

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Abstract of title - A chronological summary of all official records and recorded documents affecting the title to a parcel of real property.
Acknowledgment - A formal declaration before an authorized official by the person who executed an instrument that it is his free act and deed; the certificate of the official on such instrument attesting that it was so acknowledged.
Administrator - 1. One who administers the estate of a person who dies without a will. 2. A court official.
Adversary proceeding - One having opposing parties such as a plaintiff and a defendant. Individual lawsuit(s) brought within a bankruptcy proceeding.
Adverse possession - Method of acquiring real property under certain conditions by possession for a statutory period.
Affiant - The person who makes and subscribes an affidavit.
Affidavit - A voluntary, written, or printed declaration of facts, confirmed by oath of the party making it before a person with authority to administer the oath.
Affirmation - A solemn and formal declaration that an affidavit is true. This is substituted for an oath in certain cases.
Agreement -Mutual consent.
Alteration - Changing or making different.
Alternative dispute resolution - Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.
American Bar Association - A national association of lawyers whose primary purpose is improvement of lawyers and the administration of justice.
Arbitration - The hearing of a dispute by an impartial third person or persons (chosen by the parties), whose award the parties agree to accept.
Arbitrator - A private, disinterested person chosen by the parties in arbitration to hear evidence concerning the dispute and to make an award based on the evidence.
Assignment - The transfer to another person of any property, real or personal.
Attachment- Taking a person's property to satisfy a court-ordered debt.
Attorney-at-law - An advocate, counsel, or official agent employed in preparing, managing, and trying cases in the courts.
Attorney-in-fact - A private person (who is not necessarily a lawyer) authorized by another to act in his or her place, either for some particular purpose, as to do a specific act, or for the transaction of business in general, not of legal character. This authority is conferred by an instrument in writing, called a "letter of attorney," or more commonly "power of attorney."
Attorney of record - The principal attorney in a lawsuit, who signs all formal documents relating to the suit.

Bail - Money or other security (such as a bail bond) provided to the court to temporarily allow a person's release from jail and assure their appearance in court. "Bail" and "Bond" are often used interchangeably. (Applies mainly to state courts.)
Bail bond - An obligation signed by the accused to secure his or her presence at the trial. This obligation means that the accused may lose money by not properly appearing for the trial. Often referred to simply as "bond."
Bailiff - An officer of the court responsible for keeping order and maintaining appropriate courtroom decorum and has custody of the jury.
Bankruptcy - Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may be released from or "discharged" from their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings. The person with the debts is called the debtor and the people or companies to whom the debtor owes money are called creditors.
Bankruptcy Judge - The judge who determines whether a debtor is entitled to a discharge in bankruptcy.
Bankruptcy law - The area of federal law dealing with the handling of bankrupt persons or businesses.
Bar - 1. Historically, the partition separating the general public from the space occupied by the judges, lawyers, and other participants in a trial. 2. More commonly, the term means the who body of lawyers.
Bench - The seat occupied by the judge. More broadly, the court itself.
Bench warrant - An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.
Beneficiary - Someone named to receive property or benefits in a will. In a trust, a person who is to receive benefits from the trust.
Bequeath - To give a gift to someone through a will.
Bequests - Gifts made in a will.
Beyond a reasonable doubt - The standard in a criminal case requiring that the jury be satisfied to a moral certainty that every element of a crime has been proven by the prosecution. This standard of proof does not require that the state establish absolute certainty by eliminating all doubt, but it does require that the evidence be so conclusive that all reasonable doubts are removed from the mind of the ordinary person.
Bond (See bail bond.) - A written agreement by which a person insures he will pay a certain sum of money if he does not perform certain duties property.
Breach - The breaking or violating of a law, right, or duty, either by commission or omission. The failure of one part to carry out any condition of a contract.
Breach of contract - An unjustified failure to perform when performance is due.
Burden of proof - In the law of evidence, the necessity or duty of affirmatively proving a fact or facts in dispute on an issue raised between the parties in a lawsuit. The responsibility of proving a point (the burden of proof). It deals with which side must establish a point or points. (See standard of proof.)
Burglary - The act of illegal entry with the intent to steal.
Business bankruptcy - A proceeding under the Bankruptcy Code filed by a business entity.
Bylaws - Rules or laws adopted by an association or corporation to govern its actions.

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 sound mind.
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.
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.
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 legal documents.
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 rights.
Civil law - Law based on a series of written codes or laws.
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.
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 court.
Code of Federal Regulations - An annual publication which contains the cumulative executive agency regulations.
Code of Professional Conduct - The rules of conduct that govern the legal profession.
Codicil - An amendment to a will.
Collective mark - Trademark or service mark used by members of a cooperative, an association, or other collective group or organization.
Common law - Also case law. Law established by subject matter heard in earlier cases.
Community property – A form of legal co-ownership of property. Allows married couples to give the surviving spouse a full step-up in basis in the property.
Community property with right of survivorship – A form of legal co-ownership of property. Allows married couples to transfer their community property to the survivor without the need for probate, while at the same time giving the surviving spouse a full step-up in basis in the property.
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 offense.
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.
Condemnation - The legal process by which the government takes private land for public use, paying the owners a fair price. (See eminent domain.)
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 the parties.
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 writing.
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 a case.
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 is delegated.
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 reporter - A person who transcribes by shorthand or stenographically takes down testimony during court proceedings, a deposition, or other trial-related proceeding.
Court rules - Regulations governing practice and procedure in the various courts.
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.

Damages - Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.
Debtor - One who owes a debt to another; a person filing for relief under the Bankruptcy 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 and complaint.
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 or force.
Defunct - A corporation no longer operative; having ceased to exist.
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 file.
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 or suspension.)
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.)
Dissolution - The termination; process of dissolving or winding up something.
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 Constitution.
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.

Eminent Domain - The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.
Entity - A person or legally recognized organization.
Entry - A statement of conclusion reached by the court and placed in the court record.
Environment - The conditions, influences, or forces which affect the desirability and value of property, as well as the effect on people's lives.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) - A federal agency created to permit coordinated and effective governmental action to preserve the quality of the environment.
Equal Protection of the Law - The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law.
Equity - Justice administered according to fairness; the spirit or habit of fairness in dealing with other persons.
Escheat - The process by which a deceased person's property goes to the state if no heir can be found.
Escrow - Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.
Esquire - In the United States the title commonly appended after the name of an attorney. In English law a title of dignity next above gentleman and below knight. Title also given to barristers at law and others. Abbreviated: Esq.
Estate - A person's property.
Estate tax - Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person's death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.
Estoppel - An impediment that prevents a person from asserting or doing something contrary to his own previous assertion or act.
Ethics - Of or relating to moral action and conduct; professionally right; conforming to professional standards.
Evidence - Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.
Exclusionary Rule - The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.
Execute - To complete; to sign; to carry out according to its terms.
Executor - A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.
Exempt property - All the property of a debtor which is not attachable under the Bankruptcy Code or the state statute.
Ex parte - On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. For example, a request for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, since the person subject to the search is not notified of the proceeding and is not present at the hearing.
Expungement - The process by which the record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed.
Extradition - The surrender of an accused criminal by one state to the jurisdiction of another.

Fair market value - The value for which a reasonable seller would sell an item of property and for which a reasonable buyer would buy it.
Family law - Those areas of the law pertaining to families, i.e., marriage, divorce, child custody, juvenile, paternity, etc.
Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) - A federal agency which regulates air commerce to promote aviation safety.
Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) - A federal agency which investigates all violations of federal laws.
Federal Communications Commission (FCC) - A federal agency which regulates interstate and foreign communications by wire and radio.
Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) - An agency which insures deposits in banking institutions in the event of financial failure.
Federal Register - A daily publication which contains federal administrative rules and regulations.
Federal Unemployment Tax (FUTA tax) - A tax levied on employers based on employee wages paid.
Felony - A serious criminal offense. Under federal law any offense punishable by death or imprisonment for a term exceeding one year.
Fiduciary - A person or institution who manages money or property for another and who must exercise a standard care imposed by law, i.e., personal representative or executor of an estate, a trustee, etc.
File - To place a paper in the official custody of the clerk of court/court administrator to enter into the files or records of a case.
Filing Fee - The fee required for filing various documents.
Finding - Formal conclusion by a judge or regulatory agency on issues of fact. Also, a conclusion by a jury regarding a fact.
Food and Drug Administration (FDA) - A federal agency which sets safety and quality standards for food, drugs, cosmetics, and household substances.
Foreclosure - A court proceeding upon default in a mortgage to vest title in the mortgagee.
Forfeiture - A cancellation. A legal action whereby a contract purchaser following default loses all his interest in the property.
Fraud - A false representation of a matter of fact which is intended to deceive another.

Garnishment - A legal proceeding in which a debtor's money, in the possession of another (called the garnishee) is applied to the debts of the debtor, such as when an employer garnishes a debtor's wages.
General jurisdiction - Refers to courts that have no limit on the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear.
Government Printing Office - The federal agency in charge of printing, binding, and selling of all government communications.
Grand Jury - A jury of inquiry whose duty it is to receive complaints and accusations in criminal matters and if appropriate issue a formal indictment.
Grantor - The person who sets up a trust. Also referred to as "settlor."
Grievance - In labor law a complaint filed by an employee regarding working conditions to be resolved by procedural machinery provided in the union contract. An injury, injustice, or wrong which gives ground for complaint.
Guardian - A person appointed by will or by law to assume responsibility for incompetent adults or minor children. If a parent dies, this will usually be the other parent. If both die, it probably will be a close relative.
Guardianship - Legal right given to a person to be responsible for the food, housing, health care, and other necessities of a person deemed incapable of providing these necessities for himself or herself.

Habeas corpus - The name of a writ having for its object to bring a person before a court.
Harmless error - An error committed during a trial that was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.
Hearing - A formal proceeding (generally less formal than a trial) with definite issues of law or of fact to be heard. Hearings are used extensively by legislative and administrative agencies.
Hearsay - Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. Hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence in court.
Hostile witness - A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness. A hostile witness may be asked leading questions and may be cross-examined by the party who calls him or her to the stand.
Hung jury - A jury whose members cannot agree upon a verdict.

Immigrants - Persons who come into a foreign country or region to live.
Immigration - The entry of foreign persons into a country to live permanently.
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.
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 to do.
Insolvent - When the total debt of an entity is greater than all of its property.
Intangible assets or property - 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 the law.
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 Commission (ICC) - A federal agency which regulates all transportation in 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.

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.)
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 bench.
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 system.
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.


Lapsed gift - A gift made in a will to a person who has died prior to the will-makers death.
Larceny - Obtaining property by fraud or deceit.
Law - The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom.
Law Clerk - In the United States, usually a law school student employed by a law firm to do research and other tasks. In the courts, a lawyer (or law school student) employed to do legal research.
Lawsuit - An action or proceeding in a civil court; term used for a suit or action between two private parties in a court of law.
Leading question - A question that suggests the answer desired of the witness. A party generally may not ask one's own witness leading questions. Leading questions may be asked only of hostile witnesses and on cross-examination.
Legal aid - Professional legal services available usually to persons or organizations unable to afford such services.
Legal process - A formal paper that is legally valid; something issuing from the court, usually a command such as a writ or mandate.
Legislation - The act of giving or enacting laws; the power to make laws via legislation in contrast to court-made laws.
Legitimate - That which is legal, lawful, recognized by law or according to law.
Leniency - Recommendation for a sentence less than the maximum allowed.
Letters of Administration - Legal document issued by a court that shows an administrator's legal right to take control of assets in the deceased person's name.
Letters Testamentary - Legal document issued by a court that shows an executor's legal right to take control of assets in the deceased person's name.
Liable - Legally responsible.
Libel - Published defamation which tends to injure a person's reputation.
Licensing boards - State agencies created to regulate the issuance of licenses, i.e., to contractors, cosmetologists, realtors, etc.
Lien - An encumbrance or legal burden upon property.
Litigant - A party to a lawsuit.
Litigation - A lawsuit; a legal action, including all proceedings therein.
Living trust - A trust set up and in effect during the lifetime of the grantor. (Also called inter vivos trust.)

Magistrate (See U.S. Magistrate Judge.) - Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a judge.
Malfeasance - The commission of an unlawful act.
Malicious prosecution - An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favor of the person prosecuted.
Malpractice - Any professional misconduct.
Manslaughter - The unlawful killing of another without intent to kill; either voluntary (upon a sudden impulse); or involuntary (during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily expected to result in great bodily harm). (See also murder.)
Marshal - The executive officer of the federal court.
Mediation - A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.
Memorandum - An informal note or instrument embodying something the parties desire to have in written evidence.
Memorialized - In writing.
Merger - The absorption of one thing or right into another.
Minor - A person under the age of legal competence. In California, under the age of 18.
Minutes - Memorandum of a transaction or proceeding.
Miranda warning - Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they question him or her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona ruling by the United States Supreme Court.
Misdemeanor - A criminal offense lesser than a felony and generally punishable by fine or by imprisonment other than in a penitentiary.
Misfeasance - Improper performance of an act which a person might lawfully do.
Mistrial - An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again from the selection of the jury.
Mitigating circumstances - Those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
Mitigation - A reduction, abatement, or diminution of a penalty or punishment imposed by law.
Moot - A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court's refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court's decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court's decision.
Motion - An application made to a court or judge which requests a ruling or order in favor of the applicant.
Murder - The unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill: (1) murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; (2) murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not.
Mutual assent - A meeting of the minds; agreement.

National Labor Relations Board. (NLRB) - A federal agency which prevents and remedies unfair labor practices by employers and labor organizations.
Naturalization - Process by which a person acquires nationality after birth and becomes entitled to privileges of citizenship.
Negligence - Failure to use care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under similar circumstances.
Negotiation - The process of submission and consideration of offers until an acceptable offer is made and accepted.
Next friend - One acting without formal appointment as guardian for the benefit of an infant, a person of unsound mind not judicially declared incompetent, or other person under some disability.
No-contest Clause - Language in a will that provides that a person who makes a legal challenge to the will's validity will be disinherited.
No-fault Proceedings - A civil case in which parties may resolve their dispute without a formal finding of error or fault.
Nonfeasance - Nonperformance of an act which should be performed; omission to perform a required duty or total neglect of duty.
Nonjury trial - Trial before the court but without a jury.
Notary Public - A public officer whose function it is to administer oaths, to attest and certify documents, and to take acknowledgments.
Notice - Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.
Notice to creditors - A notice given by the bankruptcy court to all creditors of a meeting of creditors.
Nuncupative will - An oral (unwritten) will.

Oath - A solemn pledge made under a sense of responsibility in attestation of the truth of a statement or in verification of a statement made.
Objection - The process by which one party takes exception to some statement or procedure. An objection is either sustained (allowed) or overruled by the judge.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) - A federal law designed to develop and occupational safety and health standards promote .
On a person's own recognizance - Release of a person from custody without the payment of any bail or posting of bond, upon the promise to return to court.
Opening statement - The initial statement made by attorneys for each side, outlining the facts each intends to establish during the trial.
Opinion - A judge's written explanation of a decision of the court or of a majority of judges. A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning and/or the principles of law on which the decision is based. A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the court but offers further comment. (A per curiam opinion is an unsigned opinion "of the court.")
Oral argument - Presentation of a case before a court by spoken argument; usually with respect to a presentation of a case to an appellate court where a time limit might be set for oral argument.
Order - A mandate, command, or direction authoritatively given. Direction of a court or judge made in writing.
Ordinance - A rule established by authority; may be a municipal statute of a city council, regulating such matters as zoning, building, safety, matters of municipality, etc.
Overrule - A judge's decision not to allow an objection. Also, a decision by a higher court finding that a lower court decision was in error.

Paralegal - Also, legal assistant. A person with legal skills who works under the supervision of a lawyer.
Pardon - An act of grace from governing power which mitigates punishment and restores rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense.
Parol evidence - Oral or verbal evidence; evidence given by word of mouth in court.
Parole - Supervised release of a prisoner from imprisonment on certain prescribed conditions which entitle him to termination of his sentence.
Party - A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution of defense of a legal proceeding.
Patent - A grant to an inventor of the right to exclude others for a limited time from make, using, or selling his invention in the United States.
Patent and Trademark Office - The federal agency which examines and issues patents and registers trademarks.
Perjury - The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.
Permanent injunction - A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
Personal property - Anything a person owns other than real estate.
Personal recognizance - In criminal proceedings, the pretrial release of a defendant without bail upon his or her promise to return to court. (See also recognizance.)
Personal representative - The person who administers an estate. If named in a will, that person's title is an executor. If there is no valid will, that person's title is an administrator.
Petitioner - The person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court. (See respondent.)
Plaintiff - A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action. (See complainant.)
Plea - The first pleading by a criminal defendant, the defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant's answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
Plea bargaining - Process where the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a satisfactory disposition of the case, usually by the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Such bargains are not binding on the court. Also referred to as plea negotiating.
Pleadings - The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
Pour-Over will - A will that leaves some or all estate assets to a trust established before the will-maker's death.
Power - Authority to do. One has the power to do something if he is of legal age. Also, used as "powers," the term refers to authority granted by one person to another, i.e., powers given an executor in a will or an agent in a power of attorney.
Power of attorney - An formal instrument authorizing another to act as one's agent or attorney.
Precedent - Laws established by previous cases which must be followed in cases involving identical circumstances. (See stare decisis in Foreign Words Glossary.)
Preliminary hearing - Also, preliminary examination. A hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial. (See arraignment.)
Preponderance of the proof - Greater weight of the evidence, the common standard of evidence in civil cases.
Pretermitted child - A child born after a will is executed, who is not provided for by the will. Most states have laws that provide for a share of estate property to go to such children.
Pretrial conference - Conference among the opposing attorneys and the judge called at the discretion of the court to narrow the issues to be tried and to make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
Prima facie case - A case that is sufficient and has the minimum amount of evidence necessary to allow it to continue in the judicial process. (See prima facie in the Foreign Words Glossary.)
Primary authority - Constitutions, codes, statutes, ordinances, and case law sources.
Private law - That law, such as a contract between two persons or a real estate transaction, which applies only to the persons who subject themselves to it.
Privilege - A benefit or advantage to certain persons beyond the advantages of other persons, i.e., an exemption, immunity, power, etc.
Probable cause - A reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the basis for all lawful searches, seizures, and arrests.
Probate - Court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid. Term used to mean all proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates such as the process by which assets are gathered; applied to pay debts, taxes, and expenses of administration; and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the will. Conducted in states courts.
Probate court - The court with authority to supervise estate administration.
Probate estate - Estate property that may be disposed of by a will. (See estate.)
Probation - An alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer. A violation of probation can lead to its revocation and to imprisonment.
Product liability - Legal responsibility of manufacturers and sellers to buyers, users, and bystanders for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods.
Promisee - An individual to whom a promise is made.
Promisor - An individual who makes a promise.
Promissory estoppel - A promise which estops the promisee from asserting or taking certain action.
Property tax - A tax levied on land and buildings (real estate) and on personal property.
Proprietor - Owner; person who has legal right or title to anything.
Prosecutor A trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interests of the state in civil matters. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has the responsibility of deciding who and when to prosecute.
Proximate cause - The last negligent act which contributes to an injury. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.
Proxy - The instrument authorizing one person to represent, act, and vote for another at a shareholders' meeting of a corporation.
Public defender - Government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of a crime.
Public law - That law such as traffic ordinances or zoning ordinances which applies to the public.
Public Utilities Commission (PUC) - A state agency which regulates utilities.
Punitive damages - Money award given to punish the defendant or wrongdoer.
Purchase agreement or purchase offer - Also, sales agreement and earnest money contract. Agreement between buyer and seller of property which sets forth in general the price and terms of a proposed sale.
Putative - Alleged; supposed; reputed.

Quash - To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.
Quasi-contract - An obligation created by the law in the absence of an agreement or contract; not based upon the intentions or expressions of the parties.
Quiet title action - A court proceeding to remove a cloud on the title to real property.
Quitclaim deed - A deed without warranty of title which passes whatever title the grantor has to another.

Real property - Land, buildings, and whatever is attached or affixed to the land. Generally synonymous with the words "real estate."
Reasonable doubt - An accused person is entitled to acquittal if, in the minds of the jury, his or her guilt has not been proved beyond a "reasonable doubt;" that state of minds of jurors in which they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge.
Reasonable person - A phrase used to denote a hypothetical person who exercises qualities of attention, knowledge; intelligence, and judgment that society requires of its members for the protection of their own interest and the interests of others. Thus, the test of negligence is based on either a failure to do something that a reasonable person, guided by considerations that ordinarily regulate conduct, would do, or on the doing of something that a reasonable and prudent (wise) person would not do.
Rebut - Evidence disproving other evidence previously given or reestablishing the credibility of challenged evidence. (See rejoinder.)
Recognizance - An obligation entered into before a court whereby the recognizor acknowledges that he will do a specific act required by law.
Record - All the documents and evidence plus transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.
Recuse - The process by which a judge is disqualified from hearing a case, on his or her own motion or upon the objection of either party.
Redress - To set right; to remedy; to compensate; to remove the causes of a grievance.
Referee - A person to whom the court refers a pending case to take testimony, hear the parties, and report back to the court. A referee is an officer with judicial powers who serves as an arm of the court.
Registered mark - Trademark or service mark with the words "Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office" or the letter "R" enclosed within a circle (®).
Remand - To send a dispute back to the court where it was originally heard. Usually it is an appellate court that remands a case for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the appellate court's ruling.
Remedy - Legal or judicial means by which a right or privilege is enforced or the violation of a right or privilege is prevented, redressed, or compensated.
Remittitur - The reduction by a judge of the damages awarded by a jury.
Replevin - An action for the recovery of a possession that has been wrongfully taken.
Reply - The response by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.
Request for admission - Written statements of facts concerning a case which are submitted to an adverse party and which that party must admit or deny; a discovery device.
Request for production of documents - A direction or command served upon another party for production of specified documents for review with respect to a suit; a discovery devise.
Rescission - The unmaking or undoing of a contract; repeal.
Research - A careful hunting for facts or truth about a subject; inquiry; investigation.
Resolution - The formal adoption of a motion.
Respondent - The person against whom an appeal is taken. (See petitioner.)
Rest - A party is said to "rest" or "rest its case" when it has presented all the evidence it intends to offer.
Restitution - Act of restoring anything to its rightful owner; the act of restoring someone to an economic position he enjoyed before he suffered a loss.
Retainer - Act of the client in employing the attorney or counsel, and also denotes the fee which the client pays when he or she retains the attorney to act for them.
Return - A report to a judge by police on the implementation of an arrest or search warrant. Also, a report to a judge in reply to a subpoena, civil or criminal.
Reverse - An action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.
Reversible error - A procedural error during a trial or hearing sufficiently harmful to justify reversing the judgment of a lower court.
Revocable trust - A trust that the grantor may change or revoke.
Revoke - To cancel or nullify a legal document.
Right of way - The right of a party to pass over the land of another.
Robbery - Felonious taking of another's property, from his or her person or immediate presence and against his or her will, by means of force or fear. (See larceny.)
Rules of evidence - Standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.

Search warrant - A written order issued by a judge that directs a law enforcement officer to search a specific area for a particular piece of evidence.
Seal - To mark a document with a seal; to authenticate or make binding by affixing a seal. Court seal, corporate seal.
Secondary authority - Legal encyclopedias, treatises, legal texts, law review articles, and citators. Writings which set forth the opinion of the writer as to the law.
Secured debts - In bankruptcy, a debt is secured if the debtor gave the creditor a right to repossess the property or goods used as collateral.
Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) - A federal agency which monitors the securities industry.
Self-defense - The claim that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it was necessary to protect a person or property from the threat or action of another.
Self-incrimination, privilege against: - The constitutional right of people to refuse to give testimony against themselves that could subject them to criminal prosecution. The right is guaranteed in the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution. Asserting the right is often referred to as "taking the Fifth."
Self-proving will - A will whose validity does not have to be testified to in court by the witnesses to it, since the witnesses executed an affidavit reflecting proper execution of the will prior to the maker's death.
Sentence - The punishment ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime. (See concurrent and consecutive sentences.)
Sequester - To separate. Sometimes juries are separated from outside influences during their deliberations. For example, this may occur during a highly publicized trial.
Sequestration of witnesses - Keeping all witnesses (except plaintiff and defendant) out of the courtroom except for their time on the stand, and cautioning them not to discuss their testimony with other witnesses. Also referred to as "separation of witnesses."
Service mark - A word, name, symbol, or devise used in business to distinguish services provided by the business from those services provided by others.
Service of process - The delivering of writs, summonses, and subpoenas by delivering them to the party named in the document. Also referred to as "service."
Settlement - An agreement between the parties disposing of a lawsuit.
Settlor - The person who sets up a trust. Also referred to as "grantor."
Sheriff - The executive officer of local court in some areas. In other jurisdictions the sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of a county.
Sherman Act - The basic antitrust statute prohibiting any unreasonable interference, conspiracy, restraint of trade, or monopolies with respect to interstate commerce.
Sidebar - A conference between the judge and lawyers, usually in the courtroom, out of earshot of the jury and spectators.
Slander - Spoken defamation which tends to injure a person's reputation. (See libel.)
Small Business Administration (SBA) - A federal agency which provides assistance of all kinds, including loans, to small businesses.
Small Claims Court - A state court that handles civil claims for small amounts of money. People often represent themselves rather than hire an attorney.
Social Security - A system of federal old-age pensions for employed persons begun in 1935. A portion of the payment is deducted from the employee's salary and an equal portion is contributed by the employer.
Social Security Administration - The federal agency which administers the national social security program.
Social Security Tax - A payroll deduction based on gross wages paid; this amount is matched by the employer as required by the Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA).
Sovereign Immunity - The doctrine that the government, state or federal, is immune to lawsuit unless it give its consent.
Special needs trust - A trust set up for the benefit of someone who is incapable of managing his or her own financial affairs. A trust set up for the benefit of someone who has a disability, is receiving financial or other assistance from the state or federal government, and who needs additional financial assistance from a source that will not be considered an asset of the person with the disability.
Specific performance - A remedy requiring a person who has breached a contract to perform specifically what he or she has agreed to do. Specific performance is ordered when damages would be inadequate compensation.
Spendthrift trust - A trust set up for the benefit of someone who the grantor believes would be incapable of managing his or her own financial affairs.
Standard of proof - Indicates the degree to which the point must be proven. In a civil case, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, who must establish his or her case by such standards of proof as a "preponderance of evidence" or "clear and convincing evidence." (See burden of proof.)
Standing - The legal right to bring a lawsuit. Only a person with something at stake has standing to bring a lawsuit.
Status offenders - Youths charged with the status of being beyond the control of their legal guardian or are habitually disobedient, truant from school, or having committed other acts that would not be a crime if committed by an adult, i.e., smoking. Also referred to as minors or children in need of supervision.
Statute - Legislative enactment; it may be a single act of a legislature or a body of acts which are collected and arranged for a session of a legislature. (See statutory law.)
Statute of frauds - A statutory requirement that certain contracts must be in writing.
Statute of limitations - A statute which limits the right of a plaintiff to file an action unless it is done within a specified time period after the occurrence which gives rise to the right to sue.
Statutory - Relating to a statute; created or defined by a law.
Statutory construction - Process by which a court seeks to interpret the meaning and scope of legislation.
Statutory law - Laws promulgated by Congress and state legislatures. (See case law and common law.)
Stay - A court order halting a judicial proceeding.
Stipulation - An agreement between the parties involved in a suit regulating matters incidental to trial.
Strict liability - Concept applied by the courts in product liability cases that when a manufacturer presents his goods for public sale, he is representing that they are suitable for their intended use.
Strike - Highlighting in the record of a case, evidence that has been improperly offered and will not be relied upon.
Subpoena - A command to appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a certain matter.
Subpoena Duces Tecum - A court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or records to court.
Substantive criminal law - Law with the purpose of prevention of harm to society which prescribed punishment for specific offenses. The basic law of rights and duties as opposed to "remedial law" which provides methods of enforcement.
Substantive law - The statutory or written law that governs rights and obligations of those who are subject to it.
Summary judgment - A judgment given on the basis of pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits presented for the record without any need for a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Summons - Instrument used to commence a civil action or special proceeding; the means of acquiring jurisdiction over a party.
Support trust - A trust that instructs the trustee to spend only as much income and principal (the assets held in the trust) as needed for the beneficiary's support.
Suppress - To forbid the use of evidence at a trial because t is improper or was improperly obtained. (See also exclusionary rule.)
Surety Bond - A bond purchased at the expense of the estate to insure the executor's proper performance. Also referred to as "fidelity bond."
Survivorship - (See joint tenancy.)
Suspension - A temporary loss of the right to practice law by an attorney. (See disbarment or censure.)
Sustain - A court ruling upholding an objection or a motion.

Tangible assets or property - Physical items such as household furniture and furnishings, jewelry, automobiles, etc. that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.
Tangible Personal Property Memorandum (TPPM) - A legal document that is referred to in a will and used to guide the distribution of tangible personal property.
Taxable income - The income against which tax rates are applied to compute tax paid; gross income of businesses or adjusted gross income of individuals less deductions and exemptions.
Tax Court of the United States - A judicial body which hears cases concerning federal tax laws.
Temporary relief - Any form of action by a court granting one of the parties an order to protect its interest pending further action by the court.
Temporary restraining order - An emergency remedy of brief duration issued by a court only in exceptional circumstances, usually when immediate or irreparable damages or loss might result before the opposition could take action.
Tender of performance - An offer or attempt to do what is required under a contract or under the law.
Testamentary capacity - The legal ability to make a will.
Testamentary trust - A trust set up by a will that comes into existence at death.
Testator - Person who makes a will (Female: testatrix).
Testimony - The evidence given by a witness under oath. It does not include evidence from documents and other physical evidence.
Third party complaint - A petition filed by a defendant against a third party (not presently a party to the suit) which alleges that the third party is liable for all or part of the damages plaintiff may win from defendant.
Title - Legal ownership of property, including real, personal, tangible, and intangible property.
Tort - A private or civil wrong or injury for which the court provides a remedy through an action for damages.
Trademark - A word, name, symbol, or devise used by a manufacturer to distinguish his goods from those sold by others.
Transcript - A written, word-for-word record of what was said. Usually refers to a record of a trial, hearing, or other proceeding which has been transcribed from a recording or from shorthand.
Transmittal form - Form required in certain courts for transmitting documents for filing.
Trial - A judicial examination of issues between parties to an action.
Trial brief - A written document prepared for and used by an attorney at trial. It contains the issues to be tried, synopsis of evidence to be presented and case and statutory authority to substantiate the attorney's position at trial.
Trust - A legal device used to manage real or personal property, established by one person (grantor or settlor) for the benefit of another (beneficiary). (See trustee.)
Trust agreement or declaration - The legal document that sets up a living trust. Testamentary trusts are set up in a will.
Trustee - The person or institution that manages the property put in trust.
Truth in lending - Statutes which provide that precise and meaningful cost of credit information be provided to the credit customer.

Unfair labor practice - Actions by the employer which interfere with, restrain, coerce, or threaten employees with respect to their rights.
Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.) - A uniform law governing commercial transactions. The U.C.C. has been adopted by all states except Louisiana.
Uniform Laws - Annotated Annotated uniform and model acts approved by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws.
Unilateral contract - An agreement by which one undertakes an express performance without receiving any express promise of performance from the other.
Union - An organization of workers formed for the purpose of collective bargaining.
United States Attorney - A federal district attorney appointed by the President to prosecute for all offenses committed against the United States; to prosecute or defend for the government all civil actions in which it is concerned and perform all duties of the district to which he/she is assigned.
United States Bankruptcy Court - The judicial body which hears matters pertaining to bankruptcy and reorganization.
United States Court of Appeals - Courts which hear appeals from federal district courts, bankruptcy courts, and tax courts.
United States Court of Claims - Court which hears actions against the U.S. Government.
United States Court of Military Appeals - Court which hears appeals from court marshal decisions .
United States Court of Customs & Patent Appeals - Court which hears appeals from all U.S. customs courts.
United States Court of International Trade - Court which hears cases concerning federal tariff laws.
United States District Courts - Courts which try both criminal and civil actions and admiralty cases.
United States Magistrate Judge - Courts given authority by 28 U.S.C. s 636. This court hears all preliminary criminal matters, but does not conduct felony trials, and any pretrial civil matters referred by the district court. If all parties consent, criminal misdemeanor and civil trials can be heard by this court.
United States Marshal's Service - Agency which serves civil and criminal process in federal courts.
United States Postal Service - The federal office which provides mail delivery to individuals and businesses within the United States.
United States Supreme Court - The highest court in the land, established by U.S. Constitution.
Unlawful detainer - A detention of real estate without the consent of the owner or other person entitled to its possession.
Unliquidated debt - Remaining not determined; unassessed or unsettled; in dispute as to the proper amount.
Unsecured debts -- In bankruptcy, debts such as open accounts at department stores for which the debtor has not pledged collateral to guarantee payment.
Urban - A city or town.
Usury - Extraction of interest on a loan above the maximum rate permitted by statute.

Vacate - To set aside.
Venire - A writ summoning persons to court to act as jurors.
Venue - Authority of a court to hear a matter based on geographical location.
Verdict - A conclusion, as to fact or law, that forms the basis for the court's judgment. (See directed verdict.)
Veterans' Administration (VA) - The federal agency which administers a system of benefits for veterans and their dependents.
Visa - An official endorsement on a document or passport denoting that the bearer may proceed.
Void - Invalid; a void agreement is one for which there is no remedy.
Voidable - Capable of being declared invalid; a voidable contract is one where a person may avoid his obligation, as a contract between an adult and a minor.
Voir dire - The preliminary examination made in court of a witness or juror to determine his competency or interest in a matter. Literally, to speak the truth.
Voluntary bankruptcy - A proceeding by which a debtor voluntarily asks for a discharge of his debts under the Bankruptcy Code.

Wage Earner's Plan (also, Chapter 13) - A chapter of the Bankruptcy Code which allows a debtor to file a wage earner's plan for payment of a percentage of his debts from future earnings.
Waiver - Intentionally given up a right.
Waiver of immunity - A means authorized by statute by which a witness, before testifying or producing evidence, may relinquish the right to refuse to testify against himself or herself, thereby making it possible for his or her testimony to be used against him or her in future proceedings.
Warrant - Most commonly, a court order authorizing law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search. An application seeking a warrant must be accompanied by an affidavit which establishes probable cause by detailing the facts upon which the request is based.
Warranty - A promise that a proposition of fact is true.
Warranty deed - A deed which guarantees that the title conveyed is good and its transfer rightful.
Water rights - The right to use water.
Will - A legal declaration that disposes of a person's property when that person dies.
Withholding - A tax deducted from a salary, wage, or other income on behalf of the government at the time of payment of wages to the person who pays it.
With prejudice - A declaration which dismisses all rights. A judgment barring the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim or cause.
Without prejudice - A declaration that no rights or privileges of the party concerned are waived or lost. In a dismissal these words maintain the right to bring a subsequent suit on the same claim.
Witness - One who personally sees or perceives a thing; one who testifies as to what he has seen, heard, or otherwise observed.
Worker's compensation – Benefits paid to workers injured on their jobs.
Writ - A judicial order directing a person to do something.
Writ of certiorari - An order issued by the Supreme Court directing the lower court to transmit records for a case for which it will hear on appeal. (See certiorari in Foreign Words Glossary.)
Writ of execution - An order of the court evidencing debt of one party to another and commanding the court officer to take property in satisfaction of the debt.
Writ of garnishment - An order of the court whereby property, money, or credits int he possession of another person may be seized and applied to pay a debtor's debt. It is used as an incident to or auxiliary of a judgment rendered in a principal action.



Zoning Commission - Local agency with jurisdiction to regulate development and use of properties within its geographic area.

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