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Glossary

Please select the first letter of the word from the above list to go directly to the appropriate section of the glossary. If the legal term you are looking for starts with a symbol or digit, choose the '#' link


-A-

Acknowledgement of service: A legal document confirming that another document, for example a summons, writ or other court documents has been served by one party to the other party of a legal action. Oftentimes it’ll contain an indication that the receiving party intends to legally contest the issues raised and incorporated in the original documentation.

Acquittal: Judgement that a criminal defendant has not been proved guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.

ADR clause: A contract clause within a legal contract whereby the parties agree that, in the event of dispute, they will attempt to resolve that dispute by means of ADR.

Affidavit: A written statement of facts made under oath by the party making it, and in most cases before a notary or officer with the authority to legally administer such oaths.

Affirmed: In the practice of the appellate courts, the decree or order is declared valid and will stand as rendered in the lower court.

Allegation: something that someone says happened.

Alimony: A specific payment of support provided by one spouse to the other.

Answer: The formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint and setting forth the grounds for defense.

Appeal: A legal action in which a litigant asks a higher court to review and reverse a lower court's decision.

Appellate: About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgement of another lower court or tribunal.

Appellant: The litigant who brings the appeal.

Arraignment: A proceeding in which an individual who is accused of committing a crime is brought into court, told of the charges, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

Arbitration agreement: An agreement to submit to arbitration present or future disputes whether they are of a contractual nature or not.

Arbitrator: Generally speaking, a person qualified to act as arbitrator often a person with a legal background but sometimes it could be an accountant, barrister, etc. Membership of the Institute of Arbitrators is common but not an essential requirement.

Associate Justice: A justice of the Supreme Court, excluding the Chief Justice.

- B -

Bail: Security for example, money or the deed to a home handed to the court to ensure a defendant's appearance in court. If the defendant appears at all court proceedings as required, the bail is returned at the end of the case. If the defendant fails to appear as required, the bail may be kept by the court.

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 discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.

Bench: The place where the judge sits. It also is another word for the court itself.

Beneficiary: A person or persons who may benefit under the terms of a legal Will or a trust.

Bequest: An open gift of property other than land usually through a last Will and testament.

Bench trial: Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.

Brief: A written statement submitted by the lawyer for each side in a case that explains to the judges why they should decide the case or a particular part of a case in favor of that lawyer's client.

Burden of proof: The duty of a litigant to prove or disprove an allegation in court.

- C -

Capital offense: A crime punishable by death.

Case law: The body of law fashioned by judges' written legal opinions.

Charge: The law that the police believe the defendant has broken.

Chambers: A judge's office.

Charge to the jury: The judge's instructions to the jury concerning the law

that applies to the facts of the case on trial.

Chief Judge: The judge who has primary responsibility for the administration of a court but also decides cases; chief judges are determined by seniority.

Chief Justice: The presiding Justice of the Supreme Court.

Circumstantial evidence: All evidence except eyewitness testimony.

Clerk of court: An officer appointed by the court to work with the chief judge in overseeing the court's administration, especially to assist in managing the flow of cases through the court and to maintain court records.

Codicil: An official amendment changing the precise terms of an existing legal and binding will. It should be signed and a minimum of two witnesses with the same formality as a Will.

Collusion: A legal agreement between two or more persons that one of the parties brings false charges against the other. Such like in a divorce case, the husband and wife may agree to use adultery as a ground in order to obtain a legal divorce more quickly, this being a deliberate act as they know full well that adultery wasn’t committed. Collusion is immoral and illegal.

Complainant: The person who actually files a law suit, the same as a plaintiff.

Common law: The legal system that originated in England and is now in use in the United States. It is based on judicial decisions rather than legislative action.

Complaint: A written statement by the plaintiff stating the wrongs allegedly committed by the defendant.

Continuance: Put off trial until another time.

Contract: An agreement between two or more persons that creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.

Conviction: A verdict in a criminal or civil court trial in which the defendant is found guilty of the charge.

Conviction: A judgement of guilt against a criminal defendant.

Counsel: Legal advice; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.

Counterclaim: A claim that a defendant makes against a plaintiff.

Court: Government entity authorized to resolve legal disputes. Judges sometimes use "court" to refer to themselves in the third person, as in "the court has read the briefs."

Court reporter: A person who makes a word-for-word record of what is said in court and produces a transcript of the proceedings upon request.

Cross examine: Questioning of a witness by the attorney for the other side.

- D -

Damages: Money awarded to a plaintiff in a civil case. Damages are assessed against the defendant who is found by the jury or judge to have been responsible for the plaintiff's injuries.

Defamation: Defamation is an injury to a person's character or reputation such that a right thinking person would think less of the injured person as a result of the injurious act. For there to be defamation, the injured party must be living. By law there are “2” types of defamation, libel which is a defamation which is written down and slander which is a spoken defamation. It is a defense to an action for defamation that the words said or written were spoken and true.

Default: A party's failure to answer a complaint, motion or legal petition.

Default judgement: A judgement rendered because of the defendant's failure to answer or appear.

Defendant: In a general civil suit, the person complained against; in a criminal case, the person accused of an illegal activity or crime.

Defense Attorney: The appointed lawyer who represents the defendant in any legal proceeding.

Defense table: The table where the defense lawyer sits with the defendant in the courtroom.

Deposition: An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are often taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, or to be used later in trial.

Discovery: Lawyers' examination, before trial, of facts and documents in possession of the opponents to help the lawyers prepare for trial.

Docket: A list of cases on a court's calendar or legal schedule.

Disorderly persons offense: A minor criminal offense heard in a Municipal Court.

Docket: A log containing brief entries of court proceedings.

- E -

En banc: "In the bench" or "full bench." Refers to court sessions with the entire membership of a court participating rather than the usual quorum. U.S. courts of appeals usually sit in panels of three judges, but may expand to a larger number in certain cases. They are then said to be sitting en banc.

Encumbrance: An encumbrance is a liability which attaches to property, both land and other property, and can include a lien (a right to retain legal possession) or a charge (a security which supports an outstanding debt, i.e. a mortgage) to sell something free from encumbrances means to warrant that no one else has a prior claim over it.

Equity: The word "equity" has several meanings depending upon the context in which it is used. So far as most people are concerned, equity is the word which is applied to the value of a property after deduction of any outstanding charges or mortgages. To an investor, equity is the amount of capital which he or she has invested in a company or business venture and upon which any interest or dividend will be paid. The final meaning of equity is the most complex. Equity can also be a set of rules applied by a court of law which ensures that the strict application of the law does not lead to an unjust decision being reached. An example of equity being applied would be where a court prevents someone using the law as a means of cheating someone of something to which they would otherwise be entitled, or where a court prevents a breach of agreement from being used to a person's benefit.

Escrow: Escrow is a word used to indicate that a contract has not come into effect or has been even suspended, possibly until such time as a condition is satisfied. Often the document forming the contract will be put into the hands of a third party with instructions as to when it can be released. That particular third party is known as an "escrow agent". Oftentimes the word escrow is used to explain an account into which money is securely placed and pending certain conditions having been satisfied.

Estate: An estate, other than the legal meaning applied to a large parcel of land, is any type of interest in that land, sometimes known as realty or real estate, and/or in the whole of the property owned by someone who is deceased.

Estoppel: Estoppel is one of those complicated legal concepts designed to prevent an injustice being done by the strict application of law. If somebody mentions openly that something is so and, in reliance upon that statement, another person acts in a particular way, possibly to their detriment, then the person who made the statement is prevented, or estopped, from denying the correctness of the statement which they originally made.

Exclusion clause: An exclusion legal clause is a clause, often in a written agreement or contract, which attempts to limit or to exclude the liability of one of the parties to that particular agreement. They are mostly seen in public places, such as restaurants and places of entertainment, where there is an attempt to exclude liability for say a persons jacket hung in a frequently used cloakroom, but they can also appear in legal documents where one party wants to prevent a particular set of circumstances from affecting the contract. For example: a delivery company excluding liability for late delivery due to traffic problems.

Expert witness: An expert witness is an official witness in a court case who is called because he has specific knowledge and understanding of a specific field of interest being considered a “Specialist” rather than having knowledge of the facts at hand surrounding the case in question.

Evidence: The legal information used in court to prove or disprove an allegation.

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Federal question: Jurisdiction given to federal courts in cases involving the interpretation and application of the U.S. Constitution, acts of Congress, and treaties.

Felony: A crime carrying a penalty of more than a year in prison.

File: To place a paper in the official custody of the clerk of court to enter into the files or records of a case.

Force majeure: If an event occurs which is outside of the control of the either party to a legal contract, for example, it is considered to be a force majeure. Many times it is used in contracts, which permits one party not to be in breach of the contract if a certain event occurs that is well beyond the control of either party. For example: A train-derailment which prevents goods from being delivered on time.

Freehold: An unconditional right to a parcel of land is known as a freehold interest in the land, which is to say nobody has a more legal right to the land in question. It is often known as a right in fee.

- G -

Garnishee order: When a court judgment is legally obtained against a debtor, the creditor does not always automatically get that which is owed to him or her. Oftentimes the court of law has to construct an order defining how payment will in reality be made. One such order is a garnishee order which instructs a third party who owes money to the debtor to pay that money directly to the first creditor.

Goodwill: There are a number of definitions of “goodwill” but the most common is the value of the reputation which a business has gained over the years through the act of trading. Thus, if you bought a shop that had been trading for many years it would have regular customers who’d be more likely to continue to buy at the shop even though it now has new owners, whereas if you set up a brand-new shop you would need to bring-in new customers away from say some of the existing stores close by to you. The formula used to place a value on the business is somewhat complicated, and not surprising it is considering too be of abstract nature a substance which is being valued.

Grounds for divorce: The basis for a legal divorce; federal and state law lays out specific reasons for getting a divorce which has to be proven in a court of law before a divorce can be granted.

Guardian: A qualified adult appointed and/or chosen to care for minor child/ren in the event that no biological or adoptive legal parent of the child/ren is able or wishes to do so.

Guarantee: A guarantee is essentially a firm promise by one person to another person that something either will or will not occur. A guarantee for a debt, for example, is a promise by one person (the legal guarantor) that if a party to an agreement defaults in some way then the “guarantor” will for example pay a certain amount of money to the other party to the agreement. The most common form of guarantee is that given by the producer of products and goods, that those products and goods will continue to perform the correct function for which they were designed and purchased and for a certain time period. Failing which they’ll l be replaced and/or the purchaser's money will be refunded in full.

Grand jury: Selected number of people empanelled to hear evidence presented by a prosecutor to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a person to trial for a crime.

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Habeas corpus: A writ that is usually used to bring a prisoner before the court to determine the legality of his imprisonment. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.

Hearing: A court proceeding in which evidence is presented to determine the facts that are questionable and in dispute.

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.

Heirs: Persons who are entitled by state law to inherit your estate if you don't leave a legal Will, or any other person or organization or institution named in your Will.

Hung jury: A jury that is deadlocked and cannot agree on a verdict.

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Impeachment: (1) The process of calling something into question, as in "impeaching the testimony of a witness." (2) The constitutional process whereby the House of Representatives may "impeach" (accuse of misconduct) high officers of the federal government for trial in the Senate.

Indemnity: An indemnity is a payment or compensation by one person to another to make up for a loss which the other person has undergone.

Indenture: An older legal term, an indenture is another word for a deed or even a contract such as for apprenticeship. The word comes from the Latin for "toothlike" and refer to the fact that originally it was a document which came in two parts and the toothed serrations or tear could be matched up to prove it was the same document.

Injunction: An injunction is a legal order of the court preventing somebody from doing a certain act which is considered against the rights of another person. Injunctions can take many forms from an injunction preventing a husband from entering the matrimonial home to an injunction preventing the publication of something which could be deemed to libelous.

Indictment: A formal, written accusation issued by a grand jury charging someone with a crime. An indictment is not proof of a crime.

In forma pauperis: In the manner of a pauper. Permission given to a person to sue without payment of court fees on claim of indigence or poverty.

Information: A formal accusation by a government attorney that the defendant committed a misdemeanor.

Injunction: An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.

Injury: Any legal harm, wrong or damage done to a person's body, property, rights or reputation, and that the law recognizes as deserving of redress.

Instructions: Judge's explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the questions it must answer and the law governing the case.

Interrogatories: Written questions asked by one party of an opposing party, who must answer them in writing under oath; a discovery device in a lawsuit.

Interview: A meeting with the police or prosecutor.

Issue: (1) The disputed point in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. (2) To send out officially, as in to issue an order.

- J -

Joint venture: A joint venture is where two or more individuals or companies enter into a legal agreement to undertake a business venture for joint sharing of the profit. The joint venture can be simply an agreement between the parties as to who does what, invests what amount of capital and gets what at the end, or it can be a new company set up for a particular purpose of pursuing the joint business.

Judge: Government official with authority to decide lawsuits brought before courts. Other judicial officers in the U.S. courts system are Supreme Court justices.

Judgement: The official decision of a court finally determining the respective rights and claims of the parties to a suit.

Jurisdiction: (1) The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case. Concurrent jurisdiction exists when two courts have simultaneous responsibility for the same case. (2) The geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.

Juror: A person who is officially on the jury.

Jury: Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact.

Jury charge: The judge's address to the jury after all testimony has been heard in a trial. The charge explains the law that the jury is to apply in deciding on a verdict.

Jurisprudence: The study of law and the structure of the legal system.

- K -

- L -

Lawsuit: A civil suit brought in court in which a plaintiff seeks a legal remedy provided by the law, such as damages.

Law clerk: Assist judges with court legal research and drafting of opinions.

Legacy: A legacy is a gift in a legal will usually of money or personal property.

Legal aid: Where an individual is not in a financial position to bear the costs of any legal action, whether or not commenced by them, then they may be eligible to have all and/or part of their costs paid for by the state or federal government through a legal services program in the state you reside.

Librarian: Meets the legal information and law needs of the judges and lawyers.

Litigant: Somebody who is a party to litigation. The litigant can be either the side bringing the lawsuit or the side being sued.

Litigation: A legal dispute between parties argued in a court of law.

- M -

Magistrate: Oftentimes known as a Justice of the Peace, a magistrate is a person appointed to judge minor cases or preliminary hearings in the magistrates' court. Sometimes unpaid and not legally qualified, they are invariably part-time and will often be a prominent member of their community.

Magistrate judges: Judicial officers who assist U.S. district judges in getting cases ready for trial, who may decide some criminal and civil trials when both parties agree to have the case heard by a magistrate judge instead of a judge.

Marital property: Includes all accumulated property during the marriage, even if it is not titled in both names, with some legal exceptions.

Misdemeanor: Usually a petty offense, a less serious crime than a felony, punishable by less than a year of confinement.

Mistrial: A trial that is concluded by the judge before a verdict is returned. For example, a judge might declare a mistrial in the event that the jury is deadlocked and cannot reach a decision.

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Negligence: Negligence is an example of a civil general wrong known as a tort and is where a single individual acts carelessly or in such a way that damage, personal injury or grave loss is suffered by somebody to whom the person committing the act had a duty of care. In determining whether or not somebody was truly negligent, account has to be taken of whether the actions were totally careless, whether a duty was owed to the individual complaining of the negligence and the remoteness and state of the damage that was caused.

Nolo contendere: No contest-has the same effect as a plea of guilty, as far as the criminal sentence is concerned, but may not be considered as an admission of guilt for any other purpose.

Nuisance: A nuisance, as with negligence, is one of those civil wrongs known as a tort, and it mainly relates to the interference with the rights of an individual, and is most frequently in connection with their rights to possession and enjoyment of their own land. While it may be common we sometimes consider nuisance as being directly attributed to say our neighbors who are noisy, but it can extend to the misuse of land of water and/or toxic. If the nuisance starts to affect a greater number of people it will then become a public nuisance which is considered a criminal offense.

- O -

Oath: A promise to tell the truth in a court of law.

Objection: A reason that an attorney interrupts a witness to talk to the judge.

Opinion: The written legal explanation of a courts decision in a specific matter.

Oral argument: An opportunity for lawyers to summarize their legal position before a court of law and also to answer the judges' any questions.

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Panel: (1) In appellate cases, a group of judges (usually three) assigned to decide the case; (2) in the jury selection process, the group of potential jurors.

Parties: Plaintiffs and defendants (petitioners and respondents) to lawsuits, also known as appellants and appellees in appeals, and their lawyers.

Partnership: When two or more individuals wish to undertake a commercial business together they have the option of doing so by agreement rather than forming a company. That undertaking is known as a partnership. While it is advisable for each of the parties in question to inter into a partnership agreement setting out their rights and obligations, they don’t necessarily need to do so and sometimes partnerships are simply verbal agreements. The partners agree as to the extent to which each will input into the business in terms of money and assigned work, together with the extent to which they will share profits from their business. Each partner owes to the other a responsibility of good faith.

Passing off: Passing off is yet another of those civil wrongs known legally as a tort. A passing off occurs if someone makes products, goods or services look as they are connected with somebody else. In other words it is an attempt to profit from the established reputation of another individual. Oftentimes where there is a passing off there is also a Trademark infringement. For example, somebody sells sports shoes which they have attached a well-known and famous label.

Patent: A patent is one of those legal rights which are associated with intellectual property. A lawful patent is the right of one or more persons or a corporation to profit from a certain type of invention. Or, it could be a special manufacturing process, and has to be registered in each country in which they wish that invention or process to be protected by law. Once the invention is registered, a person can assign to a third party a license to manufacture and/or exploit the invention (or process) in return for a royalty payment or fee.

Petit jury (and/or trial jury): A group of citizens summoned to and sworn by the court to hear evidence and render a verdict in a court trial.

Plaintiff: The party who has initiated legal procedings or litigation against another party.

Plea Bargain: An accord between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant admits openly to having committed a serious crime. In return, the prosecutor asks the judge to impose a less severe sentence than had the defendant been convicted at a trial. The judge is not bound by the terms of a plea bargain. A legal and binding plea bargain ensures that a guilty defendant is punished.

Pleadings: Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In the federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.

Precedent: A court decision in an earlier case with facts and law similar to a dispute currently before a court. Precedent will ordinarily govern the decision of a later similar case, unless a party can show that it was wrongly decided or that it differed in some significant way.

Prosecutor: The lawyer who represents the State in an official criminal court case.

Procedure: The rules for the conduct of a lawsuit; there are rules of civil, criminal, evidence, bankruptcy, and appellate procedure.

Preliminary hearing: A hearing where the judge decides whether there is enough evidence to make the defendant have a court trial.

Pre-trial conference: A meeting of the judge and lawyers to discuss which matters should be presented to the jury, to review evidence and witnesses, to set a timetable, and to discuss the settlement of the case.

Probation: A sentencing alternative to imprisonment in which the court releases convicted defendants under supervision as long as certain conditions are observed.

Probation officers: Screen applicants for pre-trial release and monitor convicted offenders released under court supervision.

Pro se: A Latin term meaning "on one's own behalf"; in courts, it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers.

Prosecute: To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.

Public defenders (or defense attorney): Represent defendants who can't afford an attorney in criminal matters.

- Q -

Quiet Enjoyment The lawful right of any individual to occupy peacefully property or land which they own, rent or lease. This is known as quiet enjoyment. An example of "Quiet Enjoyment" is a tenants rights which normally is granted by their landlord.

- R -

Record: A written account of all the acts and proceedings in a lawsuit.

Remand: When an appellate court sends a case back to a lower court for further proceedings.

Reporter: Makes a record of court proceedings and prepares a transcript, and also publishes the court's opinions or decisions (in the courts of appeals).

Restrictive covenant: A restrictive covenant is a legal term in a contract which prevents somebody from doing something during and often for a specific period of time following the termination of a contract. For example, commencing work for a competitor. A court of law will always look at the fairness of such a term when one party is seeking to enforce it and at the particular bargaining strengths of the parties at the time at which it was entered into.

Reverse: When an appellate court sets aside the decision of a lower court because of an error. A reversal is often followed by a remand.

Royalty: Normally an ongoing fee or payment made in return for being permitted to exercise a right owned by another person. Most commonly it is associated with payment made by a book, music publisher and/or record producer to the author of a book or say, a piece of music, but it can equally apply to a royalty payment for producing an item or product having a patented process.

- S -

Sentence: The punishment a judge imposes on a person convicted of a crime.

Service of process: The service of writs or summonses to the appropriate party involved.

Settlement: An agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case to resolve the dispute without a court trial.

Sequester: To separate. Sometimes juries are sequestered from outside influences during their deliberations.

Sidebar: A conference between the judge and lawyers held out of earshot of the jury and spectators.

Statement: A description that a witness gives tot him police and that the police write down.

Statute: A federal law passed by a legislature.

Statutory law: Laws, provisions or statutes, enacted by legislatures, such as the New York State Legislature or the United States Congress.

Statute of limitations: A law that sets the time within which parties must take action to enforce their rights.

Subpoena: An official notice requiring someone's appearance in court.

Subpoena duces tecum: A command to a witness to produce necessary documents.

Summary judgement: A decision made on the basis of statements and evidence presented for the record without a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case, and one party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law.

- T -

Temporary restraining order: Prohibits a person from an action that is likely to cause irreparable harm. This differs from an injunction in that it may be granted immediately, without notice to the opposing party, and without a hearing. It is intended to last only until a hearing can be held.

Tenancy in common: A tenancy in common is one of the ways in which two or more individuals can own a shared interest in the same parcel of land. In a tenancy in common each of the owners has a purposely defined share in the proceeds of sale of the land and each may do as they please with that share. Thus, a tenant in common can leave their share by way of a last will and testament to their beneficiaries or can sell their share to a third individual.

Testamentary trust: A testamentary trust that comes into existence at the death of the person creating their last Will and testament.

Testator/testatrix: A testator is the man who’ll make a will, a testatrix is a woman.

Testify: The act by which a witness offers testimony during a trial in a court of law.

Testimony: Statements made by witnesses in a court of law.

Title: An individual has title to something if they are the legal owner. Thus to be the owner of a freehold in a parcel of land is to have legal title to that land.

Tort: Other sections in this comprehensive glossary of legal terms have referred to the idea of a tort or civil wrong. Many different types of wrongs are classified as torts including negligence, trespass, nuisance, and defamation of character. The law of tort is a section of what is generally known as the common law, in other words these simple principles go back to a time before the current modern legal system took over, although most torts have been subsequently redefined or clarified either by statute, provision or by the law courts in many cases.

Transcript: A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a court proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, as in a transcript of a hearing or oral deposition.

Trial: A court hearing that takes place when the defendant pleads "not guilty" and witnesses are required to come to court to provide independent evidence.

- U -

Uphold: The decision of an appellate court not to reverse a lower court decision.

U.S. Attorney: A lawyer appointed by the President in each judicial district to prosecute and defend legal cases for the federal government.

U.S. Marshall (and/or bailiff): enforce the rules of behavior in a court of law.

Uncontested divorce: When the defendant makes a decision not to try and stop the divorce and there are no legal issues for the court to decide about the children, money, or property.

Undue influence: If an individual is subject to pressure such as to cause them to do something which they would not normally have done, then they are said to have been subject to undue influence. It occurs most regularly in connection with Wills and legal contracts, and oftentimes can amount to good reason for them being set aside.

- V -

Venue: The geographical location or area in which a case is being tried.

Verdict: The decision of the jury in a jury trial or of the judge in a bench trial.

Victim advocate: work with prosecutors and assist the victims of a crime.

Vicinage: In New York, the districts into which the Superior Courts are grouped.

Voir dire: The process by which judges and lawyers select a petit jury from among those eligible to serve, by questioning them to determine knowledge of the facts of the case and a willingness to decide the case only on the evidence presented in court. "Voir dire" is a legal term meaning "to speak the truth."

- W -

Warrant: A written order directing the arrest of a party. A search warrant orders that a specific location be searched for items, which if found, can be used in court as evidence.

Will: A Will is a legal document by which an individual provides instructions as to what is to happen upon their death in so far as real and personal property and their remains are concerned. It is a formal set of instructions to those people whom the testator wishes to carry out his or her instructions (the executors of the Will). In most cases a Will is made in writing, and made while the person is of sound mind and body. It is duly signed and witnessed in the presence of at least of two witnesses who must themselves sign the Will also. Wills can be deceivingly simple documents and should only be made by those who know what they are doing (in most cases a lawyer) since the individual making the Will won't be around at the time it comes into effect.

Witness: Someone who offers evidence in a court of law.

Writ: A formal written command, issued from the court, requiring the performance of a specific act.

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.

Writ of summons: A document issued by a court of law directing a party to respond to a complaint, motion, or legal petition.

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