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Law Glossary
This section defines law terms commonly used in injury claims. Entries have been simplified for the benefit of non lawyers  and is not intended as a substitute for legal advice. Sources: Black's Law Dictionary, Abridged 5th ed., 1983 and Oran's Law Dictionary for Non Lawyers,1975. 
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Action - Proceeding taken in a court of law. Synonymous with case, suit lawsuit. 

  Adjudication - A judgment or decree 

  Adversary system - Basic U.S. trial system in which each of the opposing parties has opportunity to state his viewpoints before the court. Plaintiff argues for defendant's guilt (criminal) or liability (civil). Defense argues for defendant's innocence (criminal) or against liability civil) 

  Affidavit - A written or printed declaration or statement under oath 

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

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

  Alleged - (allegation) Stated; recited; claimed; asserted; charged. 

Answer - A formal response to a claim, admitting or denying the allegations in the claim. 

  Appeal - Review of a case by a higher court. 

  Appearance - 1. The formal proceeding by which a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court. 2. A written notification to the plaintiff by an attorney stating the he is representing the defendant. 

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

  At issue - The time in a lawsuit when the complaining party has stated his claim and the other side has responded with denial and the matter is ready to be tried, 

  Attorney at law - A lawyer; one who is licensed to act as a representative for another in a legal matter or proceeding. 

  Attorney of record - An attorney , named in the records of a case, who is responsible for handling the cause on behalf of the party he represents. up arrow

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

  Best evidence - Primary evidence; the best evidence which is available; any evidence falling short of this standard is secondary. 

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

  Burden of proof - Measure of proof required to prove a fact. Obligation of a party to probe facts at issue in the trial of a case. up arrow
Calendar - List of cases arranged for hearing in court. 

    Caption  - The caption of a pleading, or other papers connected with a case in court, is the heading or introductory clause which shows the names of the parties, name of the court, number of the case, etc. 

  Case - Any proceeding, action, cause, lawsuit or controversy initiated through the court system by filing a complaint, petition, indictment or information. 

  Caseload - The number of cases a judge handles in a specific time period. 

  Cause of action - A legal claim. 

Certificate under penalty of perjury - A written statement, certified by the maker as being under penalty of perjury. In many circumstances, it may be used in lieu of an affidavit. 

  Certiorari - Procedure for removing a case from a lower court or administrative agency to a higher court for review. 

  Challenge for cause - A request by a party that the court excuse a specific juror on the basis that the juror is biased. 

  Citation - Summons to appear in court. 2. Reference to authorities in support of a legal argument. 

  Civil law - All law that is not criminal law. Usually pertains to the settlement of disputes between individuals, organizations or groups and having to do with the establishment, recovery or redress of private and civil rights. 

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

  Clerk of the court - An officer of a court whose principal duty is to maintain court records and preserve evidence presented during a trial. 

  Closing argument - The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence. 

  Code - A collection, compendium or revision of laws systematically arranged into chapters, table of contents and index and promulgated by legislative authority. 

  Commit - To lawfully send a person to prison, a reformatory or an asylum 

  Common law - Law which derives its authority solely from usage and customs of immemorial antiquity or from the judgments and decrees of courts. also called "case law." 

  Comparative negligence - Negligence of a plaintiff in a civil suit which decreases his recovery by his percentage of negligence compared to a defendant's negligence. 

  Competency - In the law of evidence, the presence of those characteristics which render a witness legally fit and qualified to give testimony. 

Complaint - 1. (criminal) Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense. 2. (civil) Initial document entered by the plaintiff which states the claims against the defendant. 

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

  Continuance - Adjournment of the proceedings in a case from one day to another. 

  Corroborating evidence - Evidence supplementary to that already given and tending to strengthen or confirm it. 

  Costs - An allowance for expenses in prosecuting or defending a suit. Ordinarily does not include attorney's fees. 

  Counter claim - Claim presented by a defendant in opposition to, or deduction from, the claim of the plaintiff. 

  Court - 1. Place where justice is administered. 2. Judge or judges sitting on the court administering justice. 

  Court administrator - Manager of administrative, non judicial affairs of the court. 

  Court commissioner - A judicial officer at both trial and appellate court levels who performs many of the same duties as judges and justices. 

  Court of appeals - Intermediate appellate court to which most appeals are taken from superior court. 

  Court superior - State trial court of general jurisdiction. 

  Court supreme - "Court of last resort." Highest court in the state and final appellate court. 

  Courts of limited jurisdiction - Includes district, municipal and police courts. 

Crime - Conduct declared unlawful by a legislative body and for which there is a punishment of a jail or prison term, a fine or both. 

  Criminal law - Body of law pertaining to crimes against the state or conduct detrimental to society as a whole. Violation of criminal statues are punishable by law. 

  Cross examination - The questioning of a witness by the party opposed to the one who produced the witness.up arrow


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