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Acceptance   The actual or implied receipt and retention of that which is tendered or offered.

Adjudicate   To settle by judicial decree.

Ad litem   During the pendency of the action or proceeding.

Affidavit   A signed writing containing statements of fact to whose accuracy the signing party has sworn.  Used in a number of judicial proceedings, including a motion for summary judgment

Agency   A legal relationship in which an agent acts under the direction of a principal for the principal’s benefit. 
Also used to refer to government regulatory bodies of all sorts.

Agent   One who acts under the direction and for the benefit of a principal.

Aggrieved   One whose legal rights have been invaded by the act(s) of another.   

Allegation   What a party intends to prove.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)   any nonjudicial means of settling private disputes.

Ancillary   Auxiliary to.

Answer   The pleading of a defendant in which she may deny any or all allegations set out in the plaintiff’s complaint or demand.

Arbitration   A nonjudicial proceeding in which a dispute is submitted and a binding decision is rendered by a tribunal (panel).

Argument   A discussion by counsel (lawyer) for the respective parties of their contentions on the law and the facts of the case being tried to aid the the jury in arriving at a just and correct conclusion.

Bad faith    Intention to deceive or mislead.  

Bar   Persons that are legally permitted to practice law.  Bar also, literally, refers to a low fence that separates the courts audience from the stage of action.

Battery   An intentional tort that prohibits the unwanted touch of another without consent.

Bilateral contract   A contract in which the promise of one party forms the consideration of the promise of the other.

Bono fide   Genuine; made in good faith

Brief   An overview of a case; a statement of the legal argument to be presented.

Burden of proof   refers to both the obligation and necessity of proving facts needed to support a claim.  In criminal cases the term is used in the sense of proof beyond a reasonable doubt.  In civil matters it is considered to be a preponderance of evidence.

Capacity   The ability to incur legal obligations and acquire legal rights.

Case law   Law extracted from decided cases.

Cause of action   A legal rule that allows the plaintiff the right to obtain legal relief once certain factual elements are proven.  Often synonymously used with claim.

Caveat emptor  “Buyer beware”

Check   A written order on a bank payable on demand to the payee.

Civil action   That court action which is not criminal in nature.

Compensatory damages   repayment for actual cost of an injury.

Complaint   The pleading in a civil case in which a plaintiff asks for relief.

Contract   An agreement creating and defining the obligations between two or more parties.

Duress   Overpowering a person by force or fear

Ex Parte   Without legal representation i.e. restraining orders

Felony   Non-civil action-any crime punishable by incarceration or death in a state prison.

Fiduciary   One who holds property in trust for another.

Fraud   A misrepresentation of facts with the intention to deceive.

Guardian   A person whom is entrusted with control and custody of an incompetent person’s estate or well-being.

Joint tenancy   An asset or estate held by two, or more individuals, in which each party has equal rights to use and enjoyment of the asset until the demise of a party at which time the surviving parties inherit the remainder.

Judgment   A court’s final resolution to a proceeding submitted decision.

Jurisdiction   The power of a court to hear and decide a case.

Lease   A contract for the possession and use of land or property.   

Litigant   A party to a law suit.

Litigation   “a contest authorized by law, in a court of justice, for the purpose of enforcing a right” (Bouvier 1856)

Minor   A person who has not reached the age at which the law recognizes a general contractual capacity which is 18 in most states.

Misdemeanor   Any crime that is punishable neither by death or imprisonment in a state prison.

Negligence   Carelessness; failure to exercise ordinary care.

Parties   All persons who are interested in the subject matter of an a action and who have the right to make defense, control the proceedings, examine and cross examine witnesses, and appeal from the judgment.

Plaintiff   The party who sues in a civil action.

Preponderance   Most; majority; more probable than not.

Pro Se  Litigant without counsel

Redress   Remedy; indemnity; reparation.

Respondent   A term often used to describe the party charged in an administrative proceeding.

Slander   Oral defamation. 

Status quo   The existing state of things.

Subpoena   A process that compels a witness to come to court and give testimony.

Tort   A private (civil) wrong against a person or property.

Trial   An examination or contest performed before a competent tribunal that results in findings or decisions.

Waive   To voluntarily release or relinquish to throw away.

Writ   A court order.

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