LegalLingo

Browse by Letter:

A

abstract

NOT: a type of art you can never understand

But Actually: summary of a legal document

accord and satisfaction

NOT: a misheard Rolling Stones lyric

But Actually: in contract law, the purchase of a release from an obligation

actions

NOT: something that reputedly speaks louder than words

But Actually: cases, lawsuits

addendum

NOT: concluding a story in a stupid way

But Actually: an additional document added to the original

adversary

NOT: a super villain to a super hero

But Actually: your opponent in the case

affidavit

NOT: Larry David's less funny uncle

But Actually: a written statement under oath usually witnessed by a notary; often given as evidence in litigation

affirm

NOT: a bestselling John Grisham novel

But Actually: when a higher court agrees with how the lower court ruled

affirmative defense

NOT: a new Steven Seagal movie

But Actually: a defense in response to the complaint that does not deny the plaintiff's claims, but offers a legal excuse for the action or inaction that the plaintiff is complaining about; also called an "avoidance"

agreed order

NOT: when everyone at the table decides on a shared appetizer

But Actually: when you and your opponent agree to an issue upon which the court will rule; usually the parties will submit the agreement in writing to the court in the form of a proposed order

alias summons

NOT: someone who also goes by the fake name "summons"

But Actually: a second summons that is issued by the clerk for service because the first was improper

allonge (pronounced: alonj)

NOT: Beyonce’s little sister

But Actually: a paper attached to a negotiable instrument such as a promissory note for the purpose of providing more room for endorsements

amend

NOT: the phrase that ends grace so that everyone can start eating dinner

But Actually: to fix or change the wording of, usually applied to an order, statute or bill

ancillary proceeding

NOT: a proceeding where a guy named Larry who can’t seem to sit still

But Actually: an action that grows out of, or is filed in aid of, another suit

annul

NOT: that grassy thing in Dallas from which shots were heard

But Actually: to nullify or declare something void or invalid, especially a marriage

answer

NOT: what Alex Trebek provides in Jeopardy

But Actually: a formal response that admits or denies the allegations in a complaint

appeal

NOT: what slapstick comedians tend to slip on

But Actually: requesting a higher court to review the decision made by the lower court

application

NOT: what you fill out to work at Foot Locker

But Actually: motion

arbitration

NOT: the thing you hear sports contract disputes end up going to

But Actually: a method of settling a legal issue outside of the court. A person will act as a judge and make a final decision (that usually can’t be appealed).

assignee

NOT: Eazy-E's lesser known cousin rapper

But Actually: an individual or entity that has been given an assignment

assignments

NOT: what your dog ate when you were a kid (you swear it!)

But Actually: the transfer of rights or property or the document that accomplishes that transfer

at issue

NOT: what you need after a sneeze or a bout of crying

But Actually: the stage of a case when it may be set for trial, defined by the rules as when all the remaining defendants have either answered the complaint or been defaulted

attorney of record

NOT: a lawyer who produces a hit single

But Actually: the attorney (or sometimes law firm) whose names appears in court records as representing one of more parties in a particular case

averment

NOT: a new kind of breath mint

But Actually: formal statement of a fact

award

NOT: the trophy you got for coming in third place in your 2nd grade spelling bee.

But Actually: the amount of money the winner of the lawsuit gets

B

bankruptcy

NOT: a volcanic eruption at a bank

But Actually: a case you file when you cant pay your debt and you want the court for permission not to pay them back

bar

NOT: where you fibbed about being last night

But Actually: 1. the lawyers allowed to practice law in the state; 2. To stop something

bench trial

NOT: a courtroom thriller that pins a murder on the last suspect anyone thought… the bench.

But Actually: a trial where the judge decides the outcome without a jury

bequeath

NOT: the thing Hamlet asked "to" or "not to" do in Shakespeare's little-known first draft

But Actually: to give property to someone in one's will

bequest

NOT: a journey you go on while playing World of Warcraft

But Actually: property or money gifted in a will

bind

NOT: what your troublemaking little brother always finds himself in

But Actually: to make a person is legally responsible for something

bona fide

NOT: the credentials of a hotshot new hire

But Actually: Latin word for “in good faith”, refers to being something or someone being real or true

breach

NOT: something that Henry V wants his dear friends to go "unto"

But Actually: the act of breaking an agreement, typically used in contract disputes

brief

NOT: what the President is being told while walking down the White House hallways

But Actually: a written document each party writes to explain why the court should agree with them

burden of proof

NOT: a blockbuster suspense movie from 1991

But Actually: the obligation to prove your claim is true

C

calendar

NOT: what hangs on the wall and features different puppies for each month

But Actually: the list of cases to be heard in a courtroom each day

caption

NOT: those words that appear on TV screens at loud bars

But Actually: the block of text at the top of every court documents that includes the parties names and the case number

cashier

NOT: the nice lady who rings up your embarrassing purchases at the pharmacy

But Actually: employees of the court responsible for taking payments

cause of action

NOT: Steven Segal-Wesley Snipes vehicle that got stuck in Hollywood development

But Actually: the facts that give one person the right to sue another and ask for resolution from the court

caveat emptor

NOT: the person who eats the last of the canned caviar

But Actually: Latin for “let the buyer beware”, meaning when you buy something you do it at your own risk

cease and desist

NOT: the nickname for Julius Caesar and his female sibling

But Actually: 1. a letter demanding that the recipient stop doing something which is offensive or illegal, often used for claims that an intellectual property right is being infringed; 2. 0an order such as an injunction, requiring that an activity be stopped

certiorari

NOT: a Pininfarina designed motor car not quite as well known as Ferrari

But Actually: Latin word (meaning 'to be more fully informed") for a type of appellate court writ (an order) to a lower court to transmit the record for review; often used as a means of review of non-final orders

chambers

NOT: where bullets get loaded

But Actually: the judge's office; often is equipped with a table where the judge can conduct hearings outside the courtroom

civil

NOT: a war between the Union and the Confederacy

But Actually: 1. a type of case involving private rights, as distinguished from criminal proceedings; 2. a type of personal liberty right; 3. a type of legal system descended from Roman law and the Napoleonic Code, as distinguished from English common law

clerk

NOT: the mopey teenager scanning your groceries

But Actually: a reference to the clerk of the court, and officer of the court who is in charge of the clerical part of the court’s business

codicil

NOT: some type of cough medicine

But Actually: a document that changes a will

compel

NOT: that philosophical anime movie

But Actually: force; usually motions to compel request the court order the other party to do something

complaint

NOT: what you would put into a suggestion box

But Actually: the first statement filed with the court starting a lawsuit. It says what the plaintiff is accusing the defendant of doing and asks for the court's help

conciliation

NOT: the advice given by the Don's right-hand man

But Actually: a meeting in which two parties to an action attempt to settle or come to an agreement in an effort to avoid trial

consideration

NOT: spending a little extra on a birthday gift (instead of on candy smashing apps)

But Actually: in contract law, the thing given by one person in exchange for something or a promise of something by the other person

contempt

NOT: the thing your in-laws probably have for you

But Actually: an act of deliberate disobedience of rules of court

continuance

NOT: the message at the end of a TV series cliffhanger episode

But Actually: delaying or postponing a trial or hearing

convey

NOT: what a conveyor belt does

But Actually: when you give the title to property to someone else

counterclaim

NOT: planting a flag in your name on the kitchen counter top

But Actually: an action brought by a defendant against a plaintiff in the same lawsuit

court order

NOT: the list of what everybody in court is getting for lunch

But Actually: when the court tells someone to do or not to do something

creditor

NOT: a monster that creeps in while you sleep and eats your credit cards

But Actually: someone who is owed money

D

damages

NOT: what a bull in a china shop leaves in its wake

But Actually: money paid to the winning side of a lawsuit by the losing side

debtor

NOT: someone or something that’s more dead than something else

But Actually: someone who owes money

decedent

NOT: a person who speaks out against the government

But Actually: a dead person

defamation

NOT: someone losing their A-list celebrity status

But Actually: hurting a person’s reputation by purposely making false statements

default

NOT: the factory settings for your laptop

But Actually: when a person fails to do what the court requires them to do, usually referring to not answering a request or not showing up to court

default judgment

NOT: a verdict that say it’s your friend Dee’s fault

But Actually: when the court rules in favor of one side because the other side failed to do what was required of them

defer

NOT: when you give a bear a haircut

But Actually: to put something off until another time. A person can ask the court to defer making a decision until something else happens or is complete; or a judge can defer a decision until he is ready for pretty much any reason

deliberation

NOT: a ‘just kidding’ to a people who were recently liberated

But Actually: when the jury goes to another room to decide the outcome of the case

demand letter

NOT: a ransom note

But Actually: a letter sent by someone in a dispute to their opponent which describes the sender's legal position and instructs that the opponent take action (such as paying compensation) to avoid being sued

deponent

NOT: an opponent who’s a demon

But Actually: person who, under oath, give out-of-court testimony in a deposition

depose

NOT: overthrow a tyrant ruler

But Actually: take the deposition of someone

deposition subpoena

NOT: an unholy alliance of two boring legal terms

But Actually: written demand forcing someone to show up close to home or work possibly with documents, and give truthful answers under oath to questions asked at a deposition

dictum

NOT: the nickname of an ancient Roman guy named Richardtum

But Actually: short for "obiter dictum" (Latin for "something said in passing"), a comment in an opinion that is not necessary for the decision, and therefore, cannot be considered the "holding" or binding precedent (plural: dicta)

discovery

NOT: stumbling across the New World on the way to India

But Actually: the process of getting information from your opponent

dismissal without prejudice

NOT: someone being asked to leave in a non-racist way.

But Actually: a dismissal that does not reach the merits of the controversy, such that the plaintiff is free to bring the lawsuit again

disposition

NOT: to move something out of its position

But Actually: the final decision of the case

docket

NOT: what a salty sea captain tells you to do with a boat

But Actually: 1. a list maintained by the clerk of everything that has been filed or everything that has happened in a case, also called a “progress docket”; 2. when the clerk makes an entry in the docket; 3. a list of cases going to trial on a certain day

docket sounding

NOT: measuring the depth of the mooring area

But Actually: a meeting with the judge and everyone whose case is set for trial during the same trial period to determine the order that the cases will be tried

documentary evidence subpoena

NOT: an incisive film about evidence and subpoenas

But Actually: written demand forcing someone to hand over certain documents

domicile

NOT: a calm, obedient animal

But Actually: your permanent home, the home you always intend to return to. Ex: A dorm is not your permanent home if you plan to go back to living at your parent’s house.

duces tecum

NOT: made-up value of the two card given by a drunk dealer at a poker game

But Actually: Latin for "bring with you;" when used in the phrase "subpoena duces tecum," it is an order requiring the person receiving the subpoena to bring certain documents with them

E

e-filing

NOT: a way of trimming your fingernails through the web

But Actually: electronic filing, how to send the court documents using the internet

e-service

NOT: what GrubHub specializes in

But Actually: sending electronic copies (e-mails) of documents you file with the court to the other parties in the case

eminent domain

NOT: a name of a supervillain’s lair

But Actually: the state’s right to take someone’s personal property for public use by giving them a fair payment

endorse

NOT: what a star athlete does with a pair of sneakers...or a soft drink...or a heating pad

But Actually: accepting or transferring the contents of something by signing your name on it (Ex. When you sign a check to put the money in the bank)

escheat

NOT: what your conniving cousin tries to do in Scrabble

But Actually: the state’s right to take property that no one has inherited

estoppel

NOT: a rustic German stew

But Actually: when you are stopped from making a claim that contradicts a previous claim you made

ex parte

NOT: a celebration hosted by your former significant other

But Actually: a legal action or proceeding involving only one party to a lawsuit without the participation of the other party

exhibit

NOT: that giant woolly mammoth fossil in the museum

But Actually: 1. at trial, a document, record or object that has been offered as evidence; 2. a document attached to a motion or pleading

F

fee waiver

NOT: a spoonerism for a "wee favor"

But Actually: when people with low income are allowed not to pay court fees.

felony

NOT: that famous jazz pianist with the last name Monk

But Actually: a crime that is punishable with a year or more in prison

foreclosure

NOT: that big scary word that was thrown around a lot in 2008

But Actually: when a mortgage lender forces the sale of the property to repay the debt

foreign judgment

NOT: when someone French criticizes your fashion sense

But Actually: a judgment that was entered by a court in a different state or country

forum

NOT: something funny happened on the way to this word

But Actually: the court or judicial tribunal or the "place" where a lawsuit is taking place

franchise

NOT: a professional sports team

But Actually: a right that a government gives to an individual or company to be involved in a certain business—usually related to utilities like electricity or cable

frivolous

NOT: something a giddy schoolgirl might be

But Actually: a lawsuit without legal merit

G

garnish

NOT: that mysterious green leafy thing next to your pork chop entree

But Actually: compelling a third party who owes money to a debtor to pay the debtor’s creditor

good faith

NOT: how one would describe their own religion

But Actually: an honest belief or faithful observance of one's duty or reasonable commercial practices; absence of bad faith such as an intent to defraud

guardian

NOT: the space raccoon or talking tree that protects our galaxy

But Actually: a person appointed by the court to take care of another person

H

habeas corpus

NOT: an extra gross substance found inside blisters

But Actually: latin phrase that translates to “you shall have the body.” A habeas corpus action is initiated by a someone who is seeking relief from being unlawfully imprisoned

hearing

NOT: what starts to go as you get older

But Actually: a meeting with the judge where each side gets to present the reasons why the judge should rule their way

holding

NOT: that call the referee makes against your team to nullify a touchdown, sending you into a rage

But Actually: the part of the court's opinion in which it expresses the legal rationale for its decision

I

impleader

NOT: a leader of imps

But Actually: the process by which a third person is added to a case, especially when a defendant brings in another party that the defendant says is liable to the plaintiff

in camera

NOT: what you say after capturing your friend's embarrassing fail on video

But Actually: Latin for "in chamber," this term refers to a judicial proceeding in the judge's private chambers; see in camera inspection

in camera inspection

NOT: when the police confiscate damning photographs

But Actually: a judge's review of evidence outside the presence of the parties; see in camera

incompetency

NOT: what a lazy worker gets fired for

But Actually: lack of mental ability to participate in a legal proceeding

indigent

NOT: a LegalYou independent litigant ("Indy") who is particularly well-mannered

But Actually: a fancy word for "poor;" often refers to a person determined to be unable to afford filing fees and court costs

instrument

NOT: that old clarinet collecting dust in the attic

But Actually: a formal written document that evidences a duty, obligation or right, such as a deed, lease, contract, or will

interested party

NOT: a celebration that’s intrigued by another celebration next door

But Actually: a person outside of the lawsuit who stands to gain or be harmed by the courts decisions

interlocutory

NOT: a move that makes a UFC fighter tap out

But Actually: 1. (orders) temporary order or an order that is not the final order in the case; 2. (appeals) the appeal of such an order

interrogatories

NOT: getting the “good cop/bad cop” routine in a precinct

But Actually: a set of written questions one side sends the other side during discovery

intervenor

NOT: the counselor who runs an intervention

But Actually: an additional person who elbows into an established lawsuit filed by someone else

J

jurat

NOT: what a folksy judge might say when a juror doesn't show up for trial: "where's that jur' at?"

But Actually: Latin for to swear to something. In regards to an affidavit, it is the clause at the end of the document of the person swearing or subscribing to the document.

jurisdiction

NOT: how well a jury can speak

But Actually: the official power of a court to make legal decisions and judgments or the territory it can exercise that power

K

kangaroo court

NOT: an outback poacher's worst nightmare

But Actually: an irresponsible court or fake legal proceeding that disregards, perverts, or makes a mockery of principals of law, fairness, and due process

knowingly

NOT: the look you should try to project whenever you have no idea what is going on in the courtroom

But Actually: deliberately, consciously, intentionally

L

laches

NOT: what you use to lock the doors and windows when you hear a strange noise outside

But Actually: unreasonable delay in making a claim, such that the claim may be denied because of the delay alone

leave

NOT: when you make like a tree

But Actually: a judge's permission to do something; for example, Defendant’s Motion for Leave to Amend Answer = Defendant’s Motion for Permission to Fix/Change Answer

legalese

NOT: a court case that goes ridiculous smoothly

But Actually: the confusing jargon used in court and legal documents that often unnecessarily creates a barrier between the courts and the general public

lessee

NOT: what a Scotsman calls a young girl

But Actually: a person who rents property, also called a tenant

lessor

NOT: someone who’s not as beat up as the guy next to him

But Actually: a person that allows someone else to use their property temporarily in exchange for rent, also called a landlord

lien

NOT: the type of meat veal cutlet is

But Actually: a claim on property until the debt is paid

lis pendens

NOT: a new name for pinterest

But Actually: Latin for "pending litigation," it is a notification filed in the public records when an action involves a claim for the right to property

litigants

NOT: the nickname of a law firm’s softball team

But Actually: all the parties of the case

litigate

NOT: Gordon Liddy's part of Watergate

But Actually: take (a claim or a dispute) to a court of law

local rules

NOT: what someone shouts in support of their hometown

But Actually: rules specific to an individual courthouse or county which supplement the general rules

low bono

NOT: a very depressed U2 frontman

But Actually: a modification of the term "pro bono" because it also refers to work performed by an attorney for the public good (in other words, for someone who cannot afford the typical fees for such work), but it is performed at a discounted rate rather than for free

M

malpractice

NOT: the thing a bad doctor insists is not a big deal

But Actually: when a professional acts negligently, illegally or improperly

mandamus

NOT: a newly discovered planet considered Uranus's "sister" but much more favorable to human life

But Actually: Latin word (for "we command"), a type of appellate court writ (order) to compel a lower court or government officer to do something

mediation

NOT: turning someone or something into a media sensation

But Actually: when the sides come to an agreement with the help of a neutral person (a mediator)

mediator

NOT: that kid in the schoolyard always trying to break up the fight

But Actually: a neutral person who helps the sides come to an agreement who doesn't act as judge

misjoinder

NOT: the daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Joinder

But Actually: when a person has been named a party to a lawsuit but that person should not have been added because they do not have an interest in the lawsuit

mortgage

NOT: when a guy named Mort tries to get a feel for a situation

But Actually: an agreement between a lender and a property owner that allows the lender to take the property if the loan isn’t repaid

motion

NOT: one of your awesome dance moves

But Actually: a written request or proposal to the court to obtain an asked-for order, ruling, or direction; there are a variety of motions, and it has become standard practice to file certain kinds of motions with the court based on the type of case

motion to dismiss

NOT: a king’s hand gesture that sends an unamusing court jester away

But Actually: a written request asking for the case to be thrown out

motions

NOT: Your mesmerizing dance floor gyrations.

But Actually: asking the court to do something

motions in limine

NOT: The gesture one makes while holding a citrus fruit

But Actually: ask the court to limit or prevent certain evidence from being presented by the other side at the trial

N

naught

NOT: what a boy scout gets a badge for tying well

But Actually: zero, nothing; often unnecessarily adorning the end of affidavits in the musty phrase "further the affiant sayeth naught" by attorneys who should know better; do not use this word or this phrase

negligence

NOT: the name of the store where wives buy romantic nightwear

But Actually: failing to do something a reasonable person would do in the same situation

nonjoinder

NOT: a nun who has just enlisted at a convent

But Actually: the omission of a person who should have been included as a plaintiff or defendant

note

NOT: what you passed to the cute guy/girl behind you in class

But Actually: a written agreement to pay a specific amount of money within the specified amount of time

notice of inadvertent disclosure

NOT: a poster for the band ‘Inadvertent Disclosure’

But Actually: written statement explaining that private, confidential info has been mistakenly given out

nunc pro tunc

NOT: cross between a nun and a monk who, like Friar Tuck, is very much in favor of giving someone a good thump

But Actually: Latin phrase (because dead foreign languages are a great way to obfuscate) meaning “now for then.” Judges typically use this word when they want to correct a mistake made by the court (yes, judges make mistakes too!) and want their correction to date back to when they made the mistake

O

objection

NOT: an injection by an obstetrician

But Actually: a formal statement that asks for a judge's ruling on something that has happened or about to happen, particularly in the context of challenging evidence during trial or opposing a discovery request

officer

NOT: the guy that broke up last night’s kegger in the park

But Actually: 1. process server; 2. high ranking person at a company; 3. state official; 4. person authorized to take an oath

opposing counsel

NOT: a group of wizards, elves and dwarfs who DON'T want to go find the One Ring

But Actually: attorney for the other side

oral examination

NOT: a visit to the dentist to check on your pearly whites

But Actually: a deposition given in response to oral questioning by an opponent or their lawyer

ore tenus

NOT:

But Actually: oral, usually used when making a verbal (unwritten) motion to the court; for example, spoken to the judge during a hearing: “I would like to make an ore tenus motion to dismiss this case.”

overrule

NOT: what a king does with his subjects

But Actually: to undo a decision

P

particularity

NOT: a picky person’s preference

But Actually: detailed statements to describe the specifics of who, what, when, where, and how

party

NOT: the reason your morning is rough

But Actually: a person or company suing or being sued

per curiam

NOT: a cat owned by an ancient Roman senator

But Actually: Latin for “decision by the court.” Is used in appellate court decisions when no judge on the panel claims authorship of the opinion

per diem

NOT: a new type of cough medicine you have to show ID for at the pharmacy

But Actually: Latin for "per day" often used in the context of an interest calculation to mean now much interest is to be added to a judgment or debt each day

perjury

NOT: a jury made up of cats

But Actually: a lie told while under oath

petition

NOT: the clipboards annoying college students try to get you to sign on the street

But Actually: can be an alternative pleading that starts a lawsuit; in Florida, you will often see petitions filed in the family or appellate courts

plaintiff

NOT: what you call your friend Tiffany when she wears a boring dress

But Actually: a person who files a lawsuit

pleading

NOT: what a desperate ex does on his hands and knees as you’re walking out the door

But Actually: a document explaining exactly what a person wants the court to do in a lawsuit

pleadings are closed

NOT: what they say when a pleading is under construction

But Actually: when the answer has been filed in response to complaint or counterclaim and the option of replying has either been filed or waived

possession

NOT: your prized indigenous sculpture bought overseas

But Actually: having ownership or control of a place or thing

praecipe (pronounced: pre-sə-pē)

NOT: a cliff overlooking certain death

But Actually: Latin word for “command;” refers to an ancient kind of writ

precedent

NOT: An "As Seen on TV" ground-breaking new denture adhesive.

But Actually: A case with a holding that forms a basis for deciding later cases. Also, judicial rule-making.

prejudice

NOT: Grandpa’s cringe-worthy opinions after too much holiday nog

But Actually: harmful to one’s legal rights or claims

prima facie

NOT: an Italian opera singer

But Actually: Latin for “at first sight”, refers to when one side gives enough evidence that no other information is needed for the judge to rule in their favor

privileged

NOT: a spoiled prep school kid

But Actually: confidential or private information that isn’t for public eyes

pro bono

NOT: someone who is in favor of U2's frontman

But Actually: Latin for “public good” meaning work that an attorney performs for free on behalf of someone who cannot afford legal services

pro se

NOT: the type of writing novelists do

But Actually: Latin for “on one’s own behalf”, refers to when a person doesn’t hire a lawyer and represents him or herself in court

probate

NOT: what professional fishermen use to lure fish

But Actually: the process that controls how the assets of a decedent’s estate are distributed

process server

NOT: some outdated machine at the office

But Actually: a person licensed to deliver court papers to the parties

promissory note

NOT: a bathroom pass from the teacher

But Actually: an unconditional written promise to pay a certain amount of money (an IOU)

protective order

NOT: a religious or spiritual community devoted to the defensive use of martial arts such as the Jedi Knights

But Actually: an order from the court that protects someone from abuse or harassment by a party; see injunction

Q

quash

NOT: a vegetable similar to a zucchini

But Actually: to make void

R

real party in interest

NOT: a bash that has finally “gotten started”

But Actually: person who will directly benefit from a lawsuit or petition

recuse

NOT: to accuse someone all over again

But Actually: when a judge disqualifies himself or herself from a case based on rules and case law, for example, when they are related to a party or if a party justifiably believes that the judge will be unable to make a fair decision

redact

NOT: what you do right after you ‘dact'

But Actually: editing a document to remove confidential information

relief

NOT: the lefty that replaces a starting pitcher

But Actually: the way in which a court enforces a right, imposes a penalty or otherwise imposes its will; for example, money damages or injunctions

replevin

NOT: the eleventh repitition in a weightlifting workout

But Actually: a word so old-fashioned and seldomly used that even lawyers don't know what it means, but you'll know it means a legal process used to recover possession of personal property

request for admissions

NOT: begging security to let you into a sold-out concert

But Actually: a procedure for determining your opponent's position on certain issues and narrowing the issues to be tried; it consists of statements of fact or law that the opponent must admit or deny

request for production

NOT: asking Harvey Weinstein to finance your film

But Actually: a type of discovery in which one party asks their opponent to produce documents or to allow them to enter onto the opponent's land

res ipsa loquitur

NOT: a guided tour of a place called Resipsaloqui

But Actually: Latin for "the thing speaks for itself," a doctrine used in negligence cases. To apply res ispa loquitur, the plaintiff has to prove that the event would not ordinarily have happened without negligence, the injury was caused by something in the defendant’s exclusive control, and aside from the defendant’s action nothing else can explain how the plaintiff’s injury occurred. Once res ispa loquitur is applied, to prove negligence, all the plaintiff then has to prove is harm or damage caused by the event.

res judicata

NOT: an Neapolitan appetizer

But Actually: something that has already been decided by a court and cannot be raised again by the same parties

S

secured debt

NOT: a loan agreement document protected by sensory lasers and ninja bodyguards

But Actually: a debt that is backed by property that can be taken by the lender if the debt is not repaid

separation

NOT: what brassieres are very good at creating

But Actually: when a married couple agree to end the relationship, sometimes by court order

service

NOT: something you complain about when a waiter forgets a side order

But Actually: 1) sending copies of anything you file in the court to the other parties in the case; 2) formal notification to a defendant that they are being sued (service of process)

settlement

NOT: what pilgrims created in America (among other things)

But Actually: a signed written agreement between the parties that solves the issues without a judge or jury

sham pleading

NOT: a pleading that can also clean up any mess (as seen on TV)

But Actually: a pleading in which the facts are indisputably false

small claims case

NOT: a briefcase holding really tiny claims

But Actually: a civil case for $5,000 or less

standing

NOT: the thing you hate doing on the bus

But Actually: the right to participate in a case because you have a legal claim

stare decisis

NOT: a choice made after eyeballing your options long and hard

But Actually: the rule followed in common-law countries of following the holdings of cases previously decided by the same court or a higher court (Latin for "to stand by things decided

statute of frauds

NOT: a sculpture of Bernie Madoff and Lance Armstrong

But Actually: the requirement that certain kinds of contracts be in writing, such as those for the sale of land;The terminology comes from an Act of Parliament of England in 1677, which was intended to help prevent fraud

statute of limitations

NOT: a sculpture of a short man trying to reach a high shelf

But Actually: the time frame in which a case must be filed

stay

NOT: what you prefer to do when your husband wants to go bowling

But Actually: court order temporarily stopping the case

stipulation

NOT: those things you ignore when agreeing to iTunes terms and conditions

But Actually: a formal legal agreement

strike

NOT: the thing that makes Uncle Bob hoot and holler at the bowling alley

But Actually: to erase

sua sponte

NOT: when you bring a lawsuit against a guy named Sponte

But Actually: Latin for “of one’s own accord”, usually referring to when a judge acts without being asked

suit

NOT: what you wear to a funeral, if you care

But Actually: a court case

summary judgment

NOT: a written synopsis of a verdict

But Actually: when the judge makes a decision based on statements given without a trial

summons

NOT: what you need when you've run out of "uns"

But Actually: written notification requesting your appearance either at a hearing, in a case that has been filed against you, or other court proceeding. The person filing a lawsuit against you must be issued a paper called a summons in order for the court to have jurisdiction.

T

testate

NOT: One of the, ahem, features of the male anatomy

But Actually: a person dying with a valid will

testimony

NOT: what a megachurch preacher yells at a service

But Actually: statement under oath

testimony subpoena

NOT: a televangelist’s invitation to court

But Actually: written demand forcing someone to show up and give truthful answers under oath to questions asked in court

time sharing

NOT: joint custody of a clock

But Actually: 1. property (vacation or recreation condominium): owned by several owners to use for a specified period during each year property is owned; 2. custody cases: an agreement that states when the child or children would be spending time with what parent

title

NOT: the name of a book or movie

But Actually: ownership of property

tort

NOT: a quick breakfast treat that pops out of a toaster

But Actually: an act that hurts or damages another in a way that could give rise to a legal action

transfer of interest

NOT: the prequel series to ‘Person of Interest’

But Actually: in the middle of a lawsuit, the right to pursue the claims in the lawsuit is transferred to another party

U

unilateral

NOT: what you have to do to the move the ball in rugby

But Actually: one-sided

uphold

NOT: what you do to a picture on the wall while your wife figures out where to hang it

But Actually: when a higher court agrees with the lower courts

V

vacate

NOT: checking out of a motel room

But Actually: to end an order of the court

venue

NOT: a performing arts center

But Actually: the proper place to file a lawsuit because it has some connection to the facts which the case is based on

void

NOT: something that stares into Nietzche

But Actually: not valid or legally binding

voir dire

NOT: scientific name of the dire wolf

But Actually: from the Old French "to say what is true;" 1. the process of questioning potential jurors and selecting them for trial; 2. preliminary questioning of an opposing witness to determine their qualifications to testify about a subject

W

waive

NOT: what a surfer rides

But Actually: to give up a right to something voluntarily either through an express abandonment of that right or by inaction; for example, you can waive your right to defend your case if you do not respond to a complaint and a judgment is entered against you or you can also waive your right to make a certain defense if you do not bring it to the court’s attention in time

waiver

NOT: someone saying goodbye from a departing ship or train

But Actually: to give up a right or claim

will

NOT: something that supposedly leads to a “way”

But Actually: a paper that explains what a person wants to do with their stuff after their death

writ

NOT: how Jed Clampett describes what he “done” when he put pen to paper

But Actually: a written command of the court; an order.

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