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Law Glossary / "L - P"
This section defines law terms commonly used in injury claims. Entries have been simplified for the benefit of non lawyers  Sources: Black's Law Dictionary, Abridged 5th ed., 1983 and Oran's Law Dictionary for Non Lawyers,1975. 
From The Ashes:
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Law - The combination of those rules and principles of conduct promulgated by legislative authority, derived from court decisions and established by local custom. 

  Law clerks - Persons trained in the law who assist the judges in researching legal opinions. 

  Lawsuit - A civil action; a court proceeding to enforce a right (rather than to convict a criminal).

  Lawyer - A person licensed to practice law; other words for "lawyer" include: attorney, counsel, solicitor and barrister 

  Lay - non-professional; for example: a lawyer would call a non-lawyer a lay person and a doctor would call a non-doctor a lay person. 

  Lay advocate - a paralegal who specializes in representing persons in administrative hearings 

  Leading question - One which suggests to a witness the answer desired. Prohibited on direct examination. 

  Limited jurisdiction - Refers to courts that are limited in the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear. District, municipal and police courts are courts of limited jurisdiction. 

  Litigant - One who is engaged in a lawsuit. 

  Litigation - Contest in court; a law suit. up arrow

Magistrate - Court official with limited authority. 

  Malpractice. Professional misconduct or unreasonable lack of skill. A claim of malpractice must prove two things. One, you must prove that you could have won your case were it not for your lawyer's negligence. And, secondly, you must prove that your lawyer's actions were negligent. 

  Mandate - Command from a court directing the enforcement of a judgment, sentence or decree. 

  Misdemeanor - Criminal offenses less than felonies; generally those punishable by fine or imprisonment of less than 90 days in a local facility. A gross misdemeanor is a criminal offense for which an adult could be sent to jail for up to one year, pay a fine up to $5,000 or both. 

  Mistrial - Erroneous or invalid trial. Usually declared because of prejudicial error in the proceedings or when there was a hung 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. 

  Motion - Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during or after a trial upon which a court issues a ruling or order. 

  Moot - Unsettled; undecided. A moot point is one not settled by judicial decisions. up arrow

Negligence - The absence of ordinary care. 

Oath - Written or oral pledge by a person to keep a promise or speak the truth. 

 Objection - Statement by an attorney taking exception to testimony or the attempted admission of evidence and opposing its consideration as evidence. 

 Of counsel - Phrase used to identify attorneys that are employed by a party to assist in the preparation and management of a case but who are not the principal attorneys of record in the case. 

 Offender - 1. A person who has committed a felony, as established by state law and is eighteen years of age or older. 2. A person who is less than eighteen but whose felony case has been transferred by the juvenile court to a criminal court. 

 Offer -  1. To make a proposal ; to present for acceptance or rejection.  2.  To attempt to have something admitted into evidence in a trial; to introduce evidence 3. An "offer" in contract law is a proposal to make a deal.  It must be communicated successfully from the person making it to the person to whom it is made and it must be the person to whom it is made and it must be definite and reasonably certain in its terms. 

  Omnibus hearing - A pretrial hearing normally scheduled at the same time the trial date is established. Purpose of the hearing is to ensure each party receives (or "discovers") vital information concerning the case held by the other. In addition, the judge may rule on the scope of discovery or on the admissibility of challenged evidence. 

 Opening statement - The initial statement made by attorneys for each side, outlining the facts each intends to establish during the trial. 

 Opinion - statement of decision by a judge or court regarding a case tried before it. Published opinions are printed because they contain new legal interpretations. Unpublished opinions, based on legal precedent, are not printed. 

 Opinion, per curiam - Phrase used to distinguish an opinion of the whole court from an opinion written by only one judge. 

 Overrule - 1. Court's denial of any motion or point raised to the court. 2. To overturn or void a decision made in a prior case. up arrow

Parties - Persons, corporations, or associations, who have commenced a law suit or who are defendants. 

 Peremptory challenge - Procedure which parties in an action may use to reject prospective jurors without giving reason. Each side is allowed a limited number of such challenges. 

 Petition - Written application to a court requesting a remedy available under law. 

 Petition for review - A document filed in the state Supreme Court asking for a review of a decision made by the Court of Appeals. 

 Perjury - Making intentionally false statements under oath. Perjury is a criminal offense. 

 Plaintiff - The party who begins an action; the party who complains or sues in an action and is named as such in the court's records. Also called a petitioner. 

 Plea - A defendant's official statement of "guilty" or "not guilty" to the charge(s) made against him. 

 Pleadings - Formal, written allegations by the parties of their respective claims. 

 Polling the jury - A practice whereby the jurors are asked individually whether they agreed, and still agree, with the verdict. 

 Power of attorney - Document authorizing another to act as one's agent or attorney in fact (not an attorney at law). 

 Precedent - Previously decided case which is recognized as an authority for determining future cases. 

 Preponderance of evidence - The general standard of proof in civil cases. The weight of evidence presented by one side is more convincing to the trier of facts than the evidence presented by the opposing side.

 Presiding judge - Chief or administrative judge of a court. 

 Probate - The legal process of establishing the validity of a will and settling an estate. 

 Proceeding - Any hearing or court appearance related to the adjudication of a case. up arrow

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