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Legal Dictionary

Term: Adjudication
Definition: The final order, pronouncement or judgment of a court or other tribunal.

Term: Adjuster
Definition: An employee or agent of an insurance company who handles a casualty claim.

Term: Admission
Definition: A statement or confession by a party to a lawsuit acknowledging that certain facts which may be against his interests are true.

Term: Advocate
Definition: One who renders legal advice, assistance or argues on behalf of a party before a court or tribunal; a lawyer.

Term: Affidavit
Definition: A written statement or declaration made under oath before a notary or other person authorized to certify the statement.

Term: Affirmation
Definition: A declaration acknowledging that the person will tell the truth under penalty of perjury. Affirmations may be made by individuals who object to taking an oath on religious grounds.

Term: Affirmative Defense
Definition: A written defense to a lawsuit which does not formally deny certain allegations in a complaint, but asserts that the plaintiff is not entitled to judgment based upon legal or equitable principles, even if the allegations are true.

Term: Allegation
Definition: A statement or declaration of fact that a party expects to prove, generally set out in a pleading (complaint).

Term: Allege
Definition: To state, assert or declare.

Term: Amendment
Definition: A change or addition which improves or supplements another written document.

Term: Amicable
Definition: Friendly; mutually agreed to, as a settlement.

Term: Appraisal
Definition: A valuation of property by a disinterested party who is qualified to do so (appraiser).

Term: Arbitration
Definition: The process through which a controversy is submitted to an impartial person called an arbitrator, to resolve a dispute outside of the court system.

Term: Arbitration Clause
Definition: A provision in a contract providing for arbitration in lieu of a court action.

Term: Attest
Definition: To affirm to be true; to act as a witness by signing.

Term: Attorney
Definition: One licensed to practice law under state rules (admitted to the bar); an agent appointed to act in place of another; an advocate.

Term: Bad Faith
Definition: Willful or dishonest conduct in a situation where a party owes a financial or other duty to a third party.

Term: Brain Mapping
Definition: Brain Electrical Mapping (BEAM) is a Version of EEG which permits computerized analysis of the brain's electrical activity. BEAM actually creates a picture of the EEG results.

Term: Breach Of Contract
Definition: Failure, without legal excuse, to perform a duty required under a contract.

Term: Burden Of Proof
Definition: The duty of a moving party to establish an allegation or principal issue in a civil or criminal complaint, generally either by the greater weight of the evidence, or beyond a reasonable doubt.

Term: Carrier
Definition: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.

Term: Case Law
Definition: Reported court decisions forming the body of jurisprudence.

Term: Carrier
Definition: One engaged in the transportation of goods or freight; an insurance company.

Term: Case Law
Definition: Reported court decisions forming the body of jurisprudence.

Term: Cause Of Action
Definition: A claim which will support a valid lawsuit; the lawsuit itself.

Term: Certify
Definition: To make known or establish as a fact; to declare in writing.

Term: Chambers
Definition: A judge's private office, where a hearing can be conducted.

Term: Check
Definition: A draft or order to pay money.

Term: Circumstantial Evidence
Definition: Indirect or secondary evidence through which a fact may be proved by inference.

Term: Civil Action
Definition: A lawsuit outside of the criminal justice system, seeking redress or an award of damage for a civil wrong.

Term: Civil Procedure
Definition: The rules that regulate practice before a civil court.

Term: Civil Rights
Definition: The right to enjoy life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, including such constitutional rights as free expression and religion, without discrimination in treatment by reason of race, color, sex, age, religion, previous condition of servitude or national origin.

Term: Claim
Definition: An asserted right to money, property or relief.

Term: Claimant
Definition: A party asserting or presenting a claim.

Term: Class Action
Definition: A lawsuit brought by a limited number of members on behalf of a larger group, all of whom share a common right or damage.

Term: Clause
Definition: A paragraph or subdivision of a legal document such as a contract.

Term: Clerk Of Court
Definition: An officer of the court who has clerical duties, including record keeping, filing and making certified copies.

Term: Code
Definition: A compilation or collection of laws and statutes.

Term: Comparative Negligence
Definition: The doctrine providing that any award for injury caused by a defendant is reduced proportionately by the plaintiff's relative degree of negligence.

Term: Compensatory Damages
Definition: An award of monetary damages intended to compensate a plaintiff for economic and non-economic losses sustained as a result of another's negligence, breach of contract or misfeasance.

Term: Competent
Definition: Having the ability to understand the nature and consequences of one's actions.

Term: Complaint
Definition: The initial pleading filed in a lawsuit by the plaintiff setting out the facts upon which the claim is based.

Term: Conclusion Of Fact
Definition: The inference drawn by a jury or the decider of fact based upon the evidence.

Term: Confidential Communication
Definition: A communication not intended to be disclosed to third parties, as between a lawyer and client.

Term: Confidential Relationship
Definition: A fiduciary or other relationship which requires the utmost of good faith, and often, an understanding that communications between the parties are private.

Term: Consideration
Definition: Something of real value given in return for performance or the promise of performance, which induces a party to make an agreement or enter into a binding contract.

Term: Consolidate
Definition: To join together, as several lawsuits with identical parties or issues.

Term: Consortium
Definition: Affection, company and sexual relations between spouses.

Term: Contingency Fee
Definition: A fee paid to an attorney conditioned on a successful recovery in a negligence claim, based on a percentage of the recovery.

Term: Continuance
Definition: A temporary stay or postponement of a legal proceeding.

Term: Contributory Negligence
Definition: The doctrine under which one cannot recover for personal injury when one's own negligence contributed to the cause of the injury. This doctrine has by and large been replaced with the doctrine of comparative negligence.

Term: Costs
Definition: Expenses incurred in the prosecution of a lawsuit, including filing fees, deposition expenses and witness fees.

Term: Counterclaim
Definition: A claim filed by the defendant against a plaintiff as part of defendant's response to a lawsuit.

Term: Court
Definition: Subject to state or federal law, in distinction to limited or special jurisdiction courts which can hear only a defined class or type of case.

Term: Court Calendar
Definition: The schedule of cases pending before the court.

Term: Court Order
Definition: Any judgment or order of any court of appropriate jurisdiction.

Term: Court Reporter
Definition: Person certified to transcribe by shorthand or stenographic means any court proceeding or pre-trial matter.

Term: Credible
Definition: Worthy of belief.

Term: Cross-Claim
Definition: A lawsuit filed by one defendant in a lawsuit against another defendant in the same lawsuit.

Term: Cross-Examination
Definition: The questioning of a witness at trial or deposition by the adverse party.

Term: CT Scan
Definition: First introduced in 1973, CT Scans (Computed Tomography) and CAT Scans (Computed Axial Tomography) have rocketed in use and have evolved in capability and utilization. During CT Scan, a series of x-ray beams pass through an area of the body and the extent to which the body tissues absorb the x-rays are thereupon measured. A computer transforms these measurements into two-dimensional anatomic "slices" of high-resolution quality. One of the benefits of CT is the enhanced detail over regular x-rays. CT is able to depict portions of the body impossible to obtain by mere x-ray, and does so at ten to thirty times the detail of regular x-ray. Other advantages of Computed Tomography include its cost effectiveness (when compared to MRI), and its ability to differentiate between soft tissue damage without regard to nearby structures on the image itself. CT Scans are the diagnostic tools of choice for brain trauma due to their ability to capture collections of blood (hematoma), cerebral contusions (bruises), fractures, and edema (swelling). As with x-ray, CT Scans are not limited for use in any one area of the body, but are used throughout.

Term: Damages
Definition: Monetary compensation awarded/awardable to a party injured as a result of a breach of contract or a negligent act; the injury sustained due to misfeasance, negligence or breach of contract.

Term: Default
Definition: Failure to pay or discharge a duty.

Term: Default Judgment
Definition: A judgment against a defendant who has failed to respond or otherwise appear in a lawsuit.

Term: Defendant
Definition: In a civil proceeding, the party being sued; in criminal proceedings, the accused.

Term: Deliberation
Definition: A process by which jurors reach a verdict; the act of weighing and examining evidence.

Term: Demand
Definition: Assert a legal right; claim.

Term: Demand Note
Definition: A written document evidencing indebtedness which is payable upon demand or presentation.

Term: Deponent
Definition: A witness who gives testimony under oath at a deposition; an affiant.

Term: Deposition
Definition: The giving of testimony and cross-examination of witnesses before trial. Ordinarily a deposition is stenographically transcribed and recorded for later use.

Term: Depreciation
Definition: A reduction in property value resulting from age or use.

Term: Discovery
Definition: Various pre-trial procedures including depositions, interrogatories and requests for production, whereby parties obtain evidence to be used at trial.

Term: Dismiss
Definition: To reject a claim or suit temporarily or permanently without further hearing or consideration through an order of dismissal.

Term: Docket
Definition: List of cases to be heard or tried; record book containing summaries of court action in any case.

Term: EEG
Definition: An Electroencephalogram records electrical activity in the outer layer of the brain (the cerebral cortex), using electrodes placed on the patient's scalp. Electrical impulses are then recorded as they move a pen or other writing device across graph paper. CT Scans have decreased the use of EEG over the past years, although EEG's are still used as a diagnostic tool. One area of continued use of EEG is in the monitoring of seizure disorders. Since an EEG detects abnormality in electrical activities, it is an effective tool in the diagnosis of seizures. EEG likewise can be helpful in assessing the effectiveness of drug treatment on seizures. EEG's have also proved effective in the diagnosis of intracranial infection, and in certain surgical procedures, EEG is used to monitor the flow of blood to the brain.

Term: Endorsement
Definition: The signature on the back of a check or other negotiable instrument.

Term: Error
Definition: Mistake of law or fact forming the basis of an appeal to a higher court.

Term: Evidence
Definition: Any type of proof presented at trial which has the effect or tendency to affirm or disaffirm the existence of a fact. Evidence is the means by which some fact in question is established or disproved. Evidence includes oral testimony and every other known means available to establish the truth or falsity of a disputed question of fact.

Term: Ex Parte
Definition: An application or communication to the court without notice and outside the presence of an adverse party. Ex Parte communications are prohibited.

Term: Ex Post Facto
Definition: After the fact; a law passed after an act is performed which retroactively makes such act illegal. Such laws are prohibited under the U.S. Constitution.

Term: Execute
Definition: To complete a legal document, as by signing.

Term: Exemplary Damages
Definition: Punitive damages awarded to punish outrageous conduct, over and above compensatory damages.

Term: Exhibit
Definition: Tangible evidence, a display or document presented to the court or jury which tends to prove or explain some relevant fact.

Term: Expert Witness
Definition: Witness with specialized training or experience who is permitted to render opinion testimony in a legal proceeding.

Term: Factor
Definition: One entrusted with the possession of goods to be sold in the factor's name. A factor is one who is in the business of receiving goods from a principal and selling them for a commission.

Term: Fault
Definition: Negligence; misconduct; deviation from standard of care.

Term: Fiduciary
Definition: A person in a position of confidence who has the duty to act responsibly with respect to another's money or property; a trustee; one acting in a fiduciary capacity or relationship.

Term: Fiduciary Relationship
Definition: The relationship between parties where trust or confidence is reposed by one and accepted by the other; a confidential relationship whereby one trusts in and relies on another, e.g., parent and child, guardian and ward, husband and wife, physician and patient, attorney and client.

Term: First Amendment
Definition: A guarantee of freedom of speech, assembly, press, petition, and free exercise of religion contained in the Bill of Rights.

Term: For Cause
Definition: With sufficient legal justification to perform an act.

Term: Good Faith
Definition: The general requirement to deal honestly with others and not seek to gain unfair advantage or to defraud another party, especially in the context of business transactions or contracts.

Term: Grace Period
Definition: The period during which insurance continues to be in force despite a delayed payment of premium.

Term: Grand Jury
Definition: A jury convened to hear evidence and determine whether an indictment (criminal charge) should be issued. Grand Juries have investigative and subpoena powers.

Term: Gross Negligence
Definition: A negligent act committed with a conscious indifference to the consequences thereof willfully or want only.

Term: Guarantor
Definition: A person or entity who agrees in writing to pay the indebtedness of another.

Term: Guardian
Definition: One who the law has entrusted with the custody and control of the person or property of a ward.

Term: Guardian Ad Lietem
Definition: One appointed by a court in which litigation is pending to represent a ward (e.g., a minor or incompetent).

Term: Habeas Corpus
Definition: A writ used in both criminal and civil proceedings to obtain the release of an individual in custody by testing the constitutionality of the incarceration.

Term: Hearsay
Definition: An out of court statement which is neither an admission or a declaration against interest. Hearsay evidence is generally not admissible in a judicial proceeding.

Term: Hearsay Rule
Definition: A rule of evidence which makes out of court statements used to prove the truth of the matter stated inadmissible. Hearsay evidence comes not from the personal knowledge of the witness, but from the repetition of what he has heard others say.

Term: Hidden Defect
Definition: A defect in property or goods which is not readily detectable, that causes injury to a third party.

Term: Hostile Witness
Definition: An adverse witness or opposing party who is known to offer prejudicial evidence as a result of such adverse interest or bias.

Term: Hung Jury
Definition: A jury that cannot reach a verdict due to an inability to reconcile their differences.

Term: Hypothetical Question
Definition: A combination of assumed or proved facts stated in a form that would allow an expert witness to give an opinion based on such facts.

Term: Immunity
Definition: Exemption from prosecution granted to a witness to compel answers to questions which otherwise could be withheld because of the constitutional privilege against self-incrimination.

Term: Impleader
Definition: A procedure whereby a third party may be brought into a lawsuit by a defendant who is being sued by a plaintiff.

Term: Implied
Definition: Where the intention of the parties is not shown by directs but derived from surrounding circumstances or conduct.

Term: Incapacity
Definition: Lack of sufficient legal, physical or intellectual power to perform an act.

Term: Incompetency
Definition: The inability or incapacity at law to perform an act, such as giving testimony or making a will.

Term: Incumbrance
Definition: See Encumbrance.

Term: Indemnify
Definition: To insure a third party against loss; to agree to pay damages resulting from another's actions.

Term: Indemnity
Definition: The right of a person who has discharged a duty which should have been discharged by another to collect reimbursement from the party who should have discharged the obligation.

Term: Indenture
Definition: A deed to which several persons are parties, in which each assumes corresponding obligations.

Term: Indispensable Party
Definition: One who has interest in the subject matter of litigation which is of such a nature that a final decree cannot be entered or rendered without such person being made a party to the lawsuit.

Term: Informed Consent
Definition: Consent given after full disclosure of constitutional and other legal rights which impact on whether consent would be given.

Term: Infringement
Definition: The unauthorized use, sale or manufacture of an invention, trademark, tradename or copyright.

Term: Injunction
Definition: An order or writ issuing from a court compelling a party to perform or refrain from performing certain acts.

Term: Inquest
Definition: An inquiry by a coroner into the manner of death in a possible homicide case; a tribunal selected to inquire into selected factual matters.

Term: Insurable Interest
Definition: A real and financial interest in property or the life of another sufficient to support and justify ownership of an insurance policy.

Term: Intangible Personal Property
Definition: Money, evidence of debt, evidence of ownership, and all other forms of property where the value is based upon that which the property represents other rather than its own intrinsic value (e.g., mortgages, shares of stock, bonds, notes).

Term: Intent
Definition: The state of mind necessary to support a criminal proceeding against a defendant; the knowing performance of an act.

Term: Interpleader
Definition: An action filed by a party faced by competing claims against property in his possession but which he does not own, requesting the court to determine relative rights to the property.

Term: Interrogatories
Definition: Written questions served on a party to a lawsuit to be answered under oath as part of pre-trial discovery.

Term: Ipso Facto
Definition: By virtue of the mere fact of itself.

Term: Irrelevant
Definition: Not material. Irrelevancy forms the basis of an objection to the introduction of evidence asserting that the proposed evidence is not connected to the issue being decided.

Term: Irreparable Injury
Definition: An injury of such a nature that it cannot be redressed in a court of law and is not susceptible to complete monetary compensation. Generally when a wrongful act has caused or will cause a irreparable injury, the courts will issue an injunction prohibiting the action.

Term: Irrevocable
Definition: That which cannot be revoked or undone.

Term: Issue
Definition: A point of controversy in a lawsuit; all persons descended from a common ancestor.

Term: Joinder
Definition: Combining several causes of action or parties in a single lawsuit.

Term: Jones Act
Definition: A federal law providing medical, disability and death benefits to sailors who suffer injuries in the course of their employment.

Term: Judge Advocate
Definition: An officer at a court-martial who may act as clerk, prosecutor and/or legal advisor to the court.

Term: Judgment
Definition: A final determination by a court; the official decision of the court.

Term: Jurisdiction
Definition: The power and authority of a court to hear and determine a case.

Term: Jurisprudence
Definition: The collective legal system including case law; the philosophy of law.

Term: Jurist
Definition: A legal scholar.

Term: Juror
Definition: A person selected to serve on a jury who has taken an oath to follow the law as enunciated by the judge.

Term: Jury
Definition: An impartial group summoned and sworn to decide disputed issues of facts at a trial.

Term: Latent Defect
Definition: A defect in a product or premises that is not readily observable or discoverable even with the exercise of ordinary care.

Term: Lay Witness
Definition: Any witness not testifying as an expert. Lay witnesses ordinarily cannot render an opinion as to the ultimate issue in the case and can only testify as to what they heard and saw.

Term: Leading Question
Definition: A question which suggests to the witness the expected answer. Leading questions are ordinarily improper and are objected to at trial.

Term: Letter Of Intent
Definition: A preliminary writing setting forth an understanding between parties. Letters of Intent ordinarily do not constitute binding agreements.

Term: Letters Rogatory
Definition: A request from one court to another in a different state requesting that a witness in such other state be directed to submit to a deposition or answer written questions under oath.

Term: Liability
Definition: The duty, obligation or responsibility arising by virtue of a contract or a tort (act of negligence).

Term: Libel
Definition: A false defamatory statement which is written or printed and published or communicated to others.

Term: Libel Per Se
Definition: A libelous statement which falsely accuses another of a crime, immoral conduct or professional misconduct. To recover damages under such circumstances, it is not necessary to show actual monetary loss.

Term: Limitations
Definition: See Statute of Limitations.

Term: Limited Liability
Definition: The limitation placed upon the amount a limited partner or corporate shareholder can lose by reason of lawsuits or claims filed against a corporation. Such losses are limited to the investment made.

Term: Litigation
Definition: A judicial proceeding in which the rights, duties and obligations of parties are determined.

Term: Long-Arm Statute
Definition: Law that allows residents of different states to be served with process and sued in the forum state by virtue of contacts with the forum state.

Term: Lump Sum Settlement
Definition: Arrangement whereby the entire amount of compensation due to an employee or injured party is paid at one time, often at a discount.

Term: Malicious Prosecution
Definition: A lawsuit filed without probable cause or justification in law, intended to harass a defendant.

Term: Malpractice
Definition: Negligence by a professional such as a doctor, lawyer or engineer in the performance of professional duties; professional misconduct.

Term: Mandamus
Definition: A writ or directive issued by a court to an official compelling the performance of the official's duties.

Term: Mandate
Definition: A judicial command or order.

Term: Minority
Definition: The state of being a minor; infancy; one who has not reached the age of majority.

Term: Mistrial
Definition: A trial that has been terminated and voided due to a fundamental and prejudicial error occurring during the course of the proceeding, or because the jury was unable to reach a verdict.

Term: Mitigating Circumstances
Definition: Extenuating circumstances that in justice and fairness may reduce the degree of damages or punishment. Mitigating circumstances do not constitute justification for a wrongful act.

Term: Monopoly
Definition: An association formed to directly or indirectly control a particular industry or trade in order to reduce or eliminate competition, generally in violation of anti-trust laws.

Term: Motion
Definition: An application to the court for an order.

Term: MRI Scans
Definition: Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) is another type of sophisticated diagnostic imaging which examines body tissues by subjecting the atomic nuclei of the tissues through a magnetic field. The procedure is non-invasive and is thought to be safer than many other procedures. MRI studies are extremely effective, and produce high-resolution images giving information as to the metabolic status of tissues and organs, as well as structural information regarding the body itself. The MRI picture is of such a good contrast that biochemical information about abnormal tissue can often times be derived. MRI's are especially effective in the diagnosis of traumatic brain injury, and other abnormalities involving tissues of the brain. Its use is not limited to the brain, and MRI's are often used in order to diagnose problems with the spine, eyes, liver, kidneys, pancreas, pelvic structures, temporomandibular joint, liver and spleen, pericardium, heart, and various joints.

Term: Negligence
Definition: Failure to exercise the degree of care ordinarily expected from a reasonably prudent person under the same circumstances.

Term: Negligence Per Se
Definition: An error, omission, or act in violation of a rule of law or statute which is presumed to be proof of negligence.

Term: No-Fault Insurance
Definition: A type of automobile insurance often required by statute, whereby one's own insurance company pays the medical bills or expenses incurred by their insured irrespective of fault.

Term: Nonsuit
Definition: A voluntary or involuntary.

Termination of a lawsuit, by or against a plaintiff who is either unable to prove his case or proceed to trial. Often a nonsuit is the result of procedural errors in a case.

Term: Notary Public
Definition: A public officer who administers oaths, certifies documents, and performs certain other official acts, such as solemnizing a marriage.

Term: Objection
Definition: A request to the court to determine that a line of questioning, procedure, or evidence is improper and should not be received by the court.

Term: Obstruction Of Justice
Definition: The act or attempt to impede justice or a judicial proceeding, often by officials who have a duty to administer justice.

Term: Occupational Safety And Health Act (OSHA)
Definition: A body of laws consisting of safety and health standards intended to prevent employees from being injured or contracting illnesses in the course of their employment.

Term: Of Counsel
Definition: An attorney assisting in the preparation or management of a case, but who is not the primary attorney of record.

Term: Offer
Definition: An expressed willingness to enter into a contract or to perform an act.

Term: Offer Of Proof
Definition: An offer of evidence that has been ruled by the court to be inadmissible made for the purpose of establishing an appellate record.

Term: Open Court
Definition: A court that is actively engaged in the administration of justice; before the judge.

Term: Opening Statement
Definition: Outline of anticipated proof delivered to the jury at the beginning of a trial.

Term: Operation Of Law
Definition: A right or entitlement arising under the law and not as a result of agreement.

Term: Opinion
Definition: The stated reason for a court's judgment, finding or conclusion; the court's decision or judgment.

Term: Option
Definition: A continuing offer to sell which must be accepted by the optionee within terms of the option, and if not accepted within the time specified, the right to do so is lost.

Term: Order
Definition: A directive from the court disposing of a matter collateral to the main action, or adjudicating the matter itself, in which case it is a "final order".

Term: Order To Show Cause
Definition: A directive from the court instructing a party to appear before it and demonstrate why such party took or failed to take an action and why a penalty should not be assessed against such party.

Term: Out-Of-Pocket Expenses
Definition: Costs necessarily incurred to prosecute a civil case or to protect rights or property pending a court's determination.

Term: Overrule
Definition: To find an objection raised to be invalid; to overturn or invalidate a prior decision or holding.

Term: Overt Act
Definition: An open, outward act which demonstrates intent or design.

Term: Pain And Suffering
Definition: An element of non-economic damages to which the plaintiff may be entitled if injured as the result of the wrongdoing of another.

Term: Paralegal
Definition: An individual trained to perform a variety of legal tasks but who is not authorized to practice law.

Term: Party
Definition: A plaintiff or defendant in a judicial proceeding; person or entity that has entered into a contract.

Term: Per Curiam
Definition: By the court.

Term: Per Se
Definition: Latin: Through itself, i.e., not requiring external evidence to establish its existence.

Term: Perjury
Definition: The willful making of a false statement under oath which constitutes a criminal offense.

Term: Person
Definition: A natural or artificial being created under law, such as a corporation.

Term: Personal Property (Personalty)
Definition: Movable property not attached to realty; chattels.

Term: PET Scan
Definition: Positron Emission Tomography is a new test that studies brain function - not brain structure. It is the only test that can measure functions as opposed to tissue damage, changes in blood flow or other structural anomalies. The patient is injected with minuscule positrons that make visual to a computer the brain's function when it is using or failing to properly use glucose or sugar. The patient is injected with positrons and then, after the positrons take effect, given glucose by intravenous drip. As the sugar reaches the brain, the scan measures normal from abnormal patterns of use. When correlated with neuropsychological test results, PET becomes an effective demonstrative diagnostic tool that objectively defines abnormal brain function.

Term: Plaintiff
Definition: The party who initiates a lawsuit.

Term: Pleadings
Definition: The allegations contained in a complaint and answer; the complaint/answer or petition/response.

Term: Power of Attorney
Definition: A written instrument by which a principal appoints another to act as his or her agent and authorizes the agent to perform certain acts.

Term: Precedent
Definition: A rule of law established in earlier court decisions, that will generally be followed by other courts.

Term: Preponderance Of Evidence
Definition: The greater weight of the evidence; the general standard of proof required to prevail in a civil case.

Term: Prima Facie Case
Definition: A case in which sufficient evidence has been submitted to allow a jury or judge to make a final designation unless overcome and contradicted by other evidence.

Term: Principal
Definition: The employer or master of an employee or agent; one who authorizes another to act on his behalf.

Term: Privilege
Definition: A benefit or immunity conferred by law.

Term: Privileged Communication
Definition: A communication that is not admissible in evidence if made under circumstances in which the law recognizes a right of privacy, as between an attorney and a client.

Term: Procedure
Definition: The judicial process for the administration of cases before it; the rules governing such process.

Term: Proceeding
Definition: The various stages and events involved in a judicial proceeding.

Term: Process
Definition: A formal writ, most often a summons.

Term: Product Liability
Definition: An area of law dealing with the liability of manufacturers or sellers of goods that cause damage or injury to consumers.

Term: Property Settlement Agreement
Definition: An agreement setting forth an agreed division of property owned or acquired by spouses during their marriage; post-nuptial agreement.

Term: Proximate Cause
Definition: That which in natural sequence produces an injury.

Term: Punitive Damages
Definition: Damages awarded to punish a party who committed a wrongful act rather than to compensate an injured party for actual damages; exemplary damages.

Term: Quantum Meruit
Definition: The equitable value of the goods or services in question. The doctrine of quantum meruit allows a plaintiff to recover the reasonable value of goods or services provided to another who has derived a benefit and not paid for such benefit.

Term: Quash
Definition: To annul, void or vacate a prior judicial order or decision.

Term: Question Of Fact
Definition: A factual issue submitted to the jury or to the judge in a bench trial for definition.

Term: Question Of Law
Definition: A disputed legal issue presented for judicial designation.

Term: Quid Pro Quo
Definition: That which a party gives up in return for a benefit; the mutual consideration that is exchanged between parties to a contract and makes it binding.

Term: Real Evidence
Definition: Tangible evidence produced at trial which is capable of being physically inspected.

Term: Real Property
Definition: Land, and whatever grows on or is affixed to it.

Term: Reasonable Care
Definition: That degree of care that would ordinarily be exercised by a reasonably prudent person under similar circumstances.

Term: Reasonable Doubt
Definition: The degree of uncertainty that compels a juror to find a defendant not guilty in a criminal proceeding; a realistic uncertainty, even if remote.

Term: Reasonable Man (Person)
Definition: A hypothetical individual who exercises that degree of care, knowledge and judgment that society ordinarily requires of its members.

Term: Reasonable Time
Definition: That period of time which is ordinarily acceptable under the circumstances to respond or take some action.

Term: Rebuttal
Definition: Argument or evidence presented by an attorney in response to statements, claims, arguments, or evidence of an opposing party.

Term: Recess
Definition: A temporary adjournment or suspension of court proceedings.

Term: Record
Definition: A transcript, or papers transmitted from lower court to an appellate court upon which the appellate court decides the appeal.

Term: Recusal
Definition: The disqualification or voluntary withdrawal by a judge from a pending case due to the appearance of bias or lack of impartiality.

Term: Regulations
Definition: Rules and enactments of an administrative agency.

Term: Rehearing
Definition: A re-trial or reconsideration of a case or an issue by the court at the request of a party.

Term: Release
Definition: A written document evidencing the satisfaction of a debt; the giving up of some right, claim or interest.

Term: Relevancy
Definition: The test applied to the quality of evidence to determine whether it is competent to prove a fact in issue.

Term: Relief
Definition: Assistance or redress at the hands of the court.

Term: Remedy
Definition: Recourse at law to recover damages or enforce a legal right.

Term: Remittitur
Definition: The process or power of the court to reduce a jury verdict that is deemed to be excessive.

Term: Removal Of Case
Definition: The transfer of a case from one court to another, generally from state to federal court.

Term: Rendition
Definition: The filing of a signed, written order with the clerk of the court.

Term: Reply
Definition: A response to a pleading that has raised a new matter as a defense.

Term: Representative
Definition: One who acts for another with permission; an agent.

Term: Repudiation
Definition: An act or declaration which clearly indicates that a party will not perform an act that a contract requires be performed in the future.

Term: Res Ipsa Loquiter
Definition: Latin: The thing speaks for itself. The Doctrine of Res Ipsa allows negligence to be inferred by virtue of the fact that an accident happened, e.g., a sponge found in the body of a patient after surgery.

Term: Res Judicata
Definition: Lat.: A thing decided. The doctrine stating that a matter that has already been judicially determined is conclusive and is not subject to re-litigation.

Term: Rescind
Definition: To cancel or nullify a contract, either mutually or unilaterally.

Term: Rescission
Definition: A judicial decree that cancels or annuls a contract; the designation of the contract by word or act of the parties.

Term: Retainer
Definition: An initial or advanced payment to an attorney for services to be performed; the act of employing an attorney.

Term: Return of Service
Definition: A writing made by an officer attesting to the fact that he/she served process (summons or subpoena) on a party, or that he/she was unable to do so.

Term: Review
Definition: A re-examination of decisions, orders and proceedings of an inferior court by an appellate court; reconsideration.

Term: Rider
Definition: An amendment or addition to a document or contract, especially an insurance contract.

Term: Right of Privacy
Definition: A generally accepted legal right to be let alone and live one's life free from unwarranted publicity or intrusion. Disruption of the right of privacy may give rise to a cause of action or claim in tort.

Term: Right of Way
Definition: A right of crossing or passage over the land of another; the strip of land on which the right of way is located.

Term: Risk of Loss
Definition: A provision in a contract identifying the party who bears the risk of damage or destruction of property during its transfer from seller to buyer.

Term: Sanction
Definition: To order punishment or penalties for violation of a rule of law or procedure, or the penalty for such violation.

Term: Satisfaction
Definition: A document evidencing release or discharge of an obligation such as a mortgage.

Term: Sealing Of Records
Definition: The making of records unavailable to the public except by court order.

Term: Secured Transaction
Definition: Any transaction which is intended to create a security interest or lien in personal property or fixtures.

Term: Securities Acts
Definition: The various federal statutes that require full disclosure of material facts relevant to the offer or sale of stock.

Term: Security
Definition: Any note, stock, bond, debenture, evidence of indebtedness, certificate of interest or participation issued by a corporation indicating ownership; collateral.

Term: Security Agreement
Definition: An agreement which creates or provides for a security interest.

Term: Security Interest
Definition: An interest in real or personal property which secures or ensures payment of an obligation.

Term: Self-Incrimination
Definition: Statements by a defendant which would tend to admit guilt to a criminal offense. Under the Fifth Amendment, persons may refuse to answer questions or give testimony which would tend to subject them to criminal prosecution.

Term: Sequester Settlor
Definition: To protect a jury from outside influences or information; to take a thing which is the subject of a controversy and place it in the hands of a third party for protection. Person who establishes a trust.

Term: Service Mark
Definition: Any word, name, symbol, character, design, drawing or device used to identify services rendered and to distinguish them from services rendered or offered by others.

Term: Sever
Definition: The separation of a case into two separate trials of a case where two or more defendants have been named in the same criminal indictment or information; the removal of one or more claims in a civil lawsuit so that such claims may be tried separately.

Term: Show Cause Order
Definition: An order issuing from the court requiring a party to appear and demonstrate why certain relief should or should not be granted.

Term: Side-Bar
Definition: An area of the courtroom out of the hearing range of the jury and witnesses, where the judge and attorneys can hold brief conferences.

Term: Small Claims Court
Definition: A court of limited jurisdiction that hears and tries claims involving lesser sums of money.

Term: Specific Performance
Definition: A remedy available to an injured party when the remedy at law is inadequate, whereby a defendant may be required to perform under the termss of a contract instead of paying money damages.

Definition: SPECT or Single Photon Emission Tomography produces a computerized image of the brain through utilization of radioactive isotopes. SPECT does not generally produce an image of the same quality as that produced by PET. Nonetheless, SPECT scanning can be an effective diagnostic tool.

Term: Speedy Trial
Definition: The rule of law arising under the 6th Amendment to the United States Constitution or under state constitutions mandating that a person accused of a crime be discharged in the event the prosecuting authorities fail to bring him/her to trial within certain specified periods of time.

Term: Standard Of Care
Definition: That which a reasonably prudent person would do under the same circumstances. Failure to comply with the standard of care will render a party liable for damages to an injured party.

Term: Standing
Definition: The right to present and prosecute a claim; standing is ordinarily dependent on having sustained a direct injury.

Term: Stare Decisis
Definition: The general rule that courts will abide with prior decisions and precedents and apply the same principles in every case.

Term: Statute
Definition: An act, code or rule enacted by the legislature and adopted as law.

Term: Statute Of Frauds
Definition: The requirement that certain types of contracts be in writing to be enforceable. Examples of such contracts include; contracts for the purchase or sale of land and agreements which by their terms cannot be performed within one year.

Term: Statute Of Limitations
Definition: A statute that fixes the time within which a lawsuit on a claim must be filed, and beyond which, it will be forever barred.

Term: Stipulation
Definition: A voluntary agreement on an issue of fact or procedure reached between parties in a lawsuit.

Term: Strict Liability
Definition: Liability that arises without the necessity of first showing fault or negligence. For example, many states impose strict liability on the owners of animals that cause damage or injury.

Term: Sua Sponte
Definition: An action by the court of its own volition, without a motion having been made by any party.

Term: Sub Judice
Definition: Under consideration by the court.

Term: Subordination Agreement
Definition: An agreement establishing the priority of payment of claims, whereby a creditor may agree that claims of other creditors are discharged before payment is made to the subordinated creditor.

Term: Subpoena
Definition: A writ issued by the court to compel the appearance of a witness at a judicial proceeding.

Term: Subrogation
Definition: The right of an innocent party who has paid benefits as a result of a third party's wrongful action to recover such payments from the responsible party.

Term: Sui Juris
Definition: One who is competent and of the age of majority.

Term: Suit
Definition: Any judicial proceeding in which a remedy is sought.

Term: Summary Judgment
Definition: A judgment issued by the court before trial based upon a finding that there are no disputed issues of fact and that the applicable law compels a certain result.

Term: Summary Proceeding
Definition: An expedited proceeding under simplified rules, allowing the case to proceed to hearing quickly. Landlord-tenant matters are typically the subject of summary proceedings.

Term: Summation
Definition: The closing argument of the parties.

Term: Summons
Definition: A document issued by the clerk of the court requiring an appearance or answer to be filed by the defendant under penalty of having judgment entered or an arrest warrant issued.

Term: Supersedeas
Definition: A writ from a superior court suspending the power of a lower court to issue an execution upon a judgment issued by it.

Term: Supress
Definition: To exclude evidence based on a violation of constitutional rights, rule of law or procedure.

Term: Tangible Property
Definition: Property that may be felt or touched (as distinct from a debt or property right).

Term: Tender
Definition: An unconditional offer to pay or to perform a contractual obligation.

Term: Testate
Definition: Having a valid will.

Term: Testator/Testatrix
Definition: Male or female who makes or has a will.

Term: Testimony
Definition: Statement by a witness or a party made under oath in a legal proceeding or deposition.

Term: Third-Party Beneficiary
Definition: A person who receives an intended or incidental benefit by virtue of a contract to which he or she is not a party and for which he or she has paid no consideration.

Term: Time is of the Essence
Definition: A contract term that fixes the time of performance and establishes such time as being critical, so that failure to perform within such time will constitute a default.

Term: Tort
Definition: A private or civil wrong that results in an injury; a breach of the duty of care causing damage; a negligent act.

Term: Tortfeasor
Definition: One who commits a tort.

Term: Trade Name
Definition: The name under which a person does business, and which identifies the business.

Term: Trade Secret
Definition: Any formula, process, plan or mechanism developed and utilized in conjunction with one's business which is kept private or secret in order to obtain an advantage over competitors.

Term: Trademark
Definition: Any mark, word, or design affixed to goods or products which authenticates them.

Term: Treble Damages
Definition: Damages established by statute, most commonly applicable to anti-trust violations, whereby the plaintiff receives an award of three times the amount of actual damages.

Term: Trespass
Definition: Wrongful interference with the use of the property of another.

Term: Trial Court
Definition: A court of original jurisdiction which hears and tries a lawsuit.

Term: Trust
Definition: An entity or method through which assets can be held for distribution to beneficiaries at a later date.

Term: Trustee
Definition: A duly authorized agent or fiduciary who holds title to property for the benefit of another person; the administrator of a trust.

Term: Ultra Vires
Definition: An action by a corporation that is beyond the scope of powers conferred by statute or authorized by corporate documents.

Term: Underwrite
Definition: To insure payment or satisfaction of an obligation; to insure life or property; to sell stock or bonds to the public and agree to buy any that are not sold.

Term: Undue Influence
Definition: That degree of influence or compulsion that destroys or eliminates another's free will; any improper persuasion whereby the will of a person is overpowered inducing an action which otherwise would not have been taken.

Term: Uniform Commercial Code (U.C.C.)
Definition: A compilation of laws governing commercial transactions.

Term: United States Code
Definition: The official compilation of federal statutes.

Term: Unjust Enrichment
Definition: The doctrine that a person should not be allowed to gain or benefit improperly from the acts and efforts of another without compensation.

Term: Unliquidated
Definition: Not as yet determined as to amount.

Term: Usury
Definition: The wrongful charging of interest at a rate which exceeds that allowed by statute. Usury may constitute a crime under state law depending on the rate of interest charged.

Term: Vacate
Definition: To void or set aside a judgment or order.

Term: Variance
Definition: A modification of zoning ordinance regulations to permit the use of property in a manner otherwise forbidden, when such variance will not be contrary to the public interest.

Term: Venire
Definition: Process by which jurors are summoned to try a case; the jury panel.

Term: Venue
Definition: The place of trial; one of several places where a trial may properly be conducted.

Term: Verdict
Definition: The opinion and findings of a jury as reported to the court.

Term: Verification
Definition: An affidavit, oath or deposition attesting to the accuracy of a statement contained in a document.

Term: Vicarious Liability
Definition: Liability imposed on one person for the actions of another, as in the case of an employer who is vicariously liable for the acts of an employee performed in the course and scope of the employee's duties. See also Master and Servant.

Term: View
Definition: An inspection of an object by the court or jury where the object or location viewed cannot conveniently be produced in court.

Term: Void
Definition: Having no legal force; null.

Term: Voidable
Definition: Capable of being rendered void or annulled.

Term: Voir Dire
Definition: The process of examination of prospective jurors by the court or attorneys to determine their qualification for jury service and to uncover any biases or conflicts of interest.

Term: Waiver
Definition: The voluntary and intentional surrender of a right or privilege.

Term: Ward
Definition: A person for whom a guardianship has been established.

Term: Warranty
Definition: A promise to perform, make good, repair or indemnify the promissee for a loss incurred in the event a represented fact proves to be untrue; a promise that a fact is true.

Term: Warranty Deed
Definition: A deed which warrants and guarantees that the title being transferred is free and clear of all encumbrances.

Term: Weight Of The Evidence
Definition: The balance of the greater amount of credible evidence.

Term: Whiplash Injury
Definition: A soft-tissue injury to the neck or back usually associated with rear-end automobile collisions.

Term: Will
Definition: A dispositive document prepared by or at the direction of a testator of sufficient testamentary capacity, indicating how property is to be disposed of as of the date of death.

Term: Willful
Definition: Intentional; intending the result which comes to pass.

Term: With Prejudice
Definition: A phrase used in orders of judgments indicating that an action or claim has been irrevocably dismissed and the only available remedy thereafter is an appeal.

Term: Work Product
Definition: Work done by an attorney in the course of his representation of a client that is privileged and cannot be obtained by an adverse party.

Term: Worker's Compensation
Definition: Mandatory insurance under state law that pays medical and lost wage benefits to workers injured in the course and scope of their employment.

Term: Writ
Definition: The means by which a court compels acts to be performed, including such documents as an arrest warrant, garnishment and writs of attachment.

Term: Writ Of Assistance
Definition: A writ issued by a court in order to enforce its judgment or decree.

Term: Writ Of Execution
Definition: An order directed to a sheriff or other law enforcement officer to levy and execute upon the property of a judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment.

Term: Writ of Prohibition
Definition: A writ issued by a Superior Court directing a judge, court or tribunal not to take an action that would be in excess of and beyond its jurisdiction.

Term: Wrongful Death Statute
Definition: A state statute defining and limiting the types of compensation recoverable by survivors of a decedent in an action resulting from another's negligence.

Term: X-Ray
Definition: X-Rays are electromagnetic waves. Unlike light waves, x-rays are stopped by solids or other dense radiopaque objects, including bone. X-rays pass through the body and exit from the opposite side where difference in density appear in shades of gray on x-ray film. An x-ray is a useful diagnostic tool available for visualization of structures within the body. X-rays are limited, however, when compared to other sophisticated imaging now available. X-rays are an excellent starting point, however. The most frequent application for x-ray is the diagnosis of fractures and dislocations, certain tumors, tuberculosis, osteoarthritis, and other structural anomalies. Skull x-rays may be used when the patient complains of headaches or other neurological symptoms. An x-ray test is said to be "positive" if the x-ray film reveals an alteration in normal anatomical structure (fracture, etc.), an invasion by a new growth such as a tumor, or displacement of brain structures such as that caused by a subdural hematoma.

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