Legal terminology

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  • 1. Legal Terminology DefinitionsLatin Terms:a fortiori - With stronger reasona priori - From the cause to the effectab initio - From the beginningactiones in perso nam - Personal act ionsad curiam - Before a court; to courtad damnum clause - To the damage, clause in a complaint stating monetary lossad faciendum - To doad hoc - For this purpose or occasionad litem - For this suit or litigationad rem - To the thing at handad valorem - According to the valueadversus - Againstaggregatio menium - Contractual meeting of the mindsalias dictus - An assumed namealibi - In another place, elsewherealiunde - From another place, from without (as in evidence outside the document)alter ego - The other selfamicus curiae - “friend of the court” briefanimo - With intention, disposition, design or willanimus - Mind or intentionante litem motam - before the suit or before litigation is filedarguendo - In the course of an argumentassumpsit - He undertook or promisedbona fide - Good faithcapias - Take, arrestcaptia - Persons, or headscausa mortis - By reason of deathcaveat - Beware, a warningcaveat emptor - “Let the buyer beware”certiorari - “send the pleadings up”, indicating a discretionary review processCestui - BeneficiariesCestui que trust - Beneficiaries of a trustcirca - In the area of, about or concerningcompos mentis - Of sound mindconsortium - The conjugal fellowship of husband and wifecontra - Againstcoram nobis - Before us ourselvescorpus - Bodycorpus delicti - Body of the offensecum testamento annexo - “With the will annexed”datum - Information or the thing given
  • 2. de facto - In fact, in deed or actuallyde jure - Of right, lawfulde novo - Anew or afreshde son tort - Of his own wro ngdies non - Not a dayduces tecum - bring with youdum bene se gesserit - While he shall conduct himself, during good behaviore converso - Conversely or on the other handen banc - All judges present on the bench to hear a caseeo instanti - Upon the instanterratum - Erroret alii - And otherset sequentia - And as followset ux - And wifeet vir - And husbandex delicto - Arising from a tortex gratia - As a matter of favorex officio - From office, by virtue of his officeex parte - By or for one party onlyex post facto - After the factfacto - In fact, in or by the lawfelonice - Feloniouslyfiat - Let it be done, a short order that a thing be donefieri - To be made up, to becomefieri facias - Writ directing a sheriff to reduce a judgment debtor’s property to moneyflagrante delicto - In the very act of committing the crimeforum non conveniens - Power to decline jurisdiction over a case and have it tried elsewheregravis - Serious, of importancehabeas corpus - Writ commanded to the custodian of a person to produce the body nowhabendum clause - The part of a deed beginning “to have and t o hold” and defining ownershiphonorarium - Fee, gift or compensation from gratitudeidem - The same as above (id.)idem sonans - To have the same sound, as in names sounding alike but spelled differentlyin curia - In courtin esse - In being, existencein forma pauperis - Permission given to a poor person to sue without liability for court costsinfra - Beneath; belowin limine - At the beginning; At the thresholdin loco parentis - In place of the parentin pari delicto - In equal faultin personam - Personally, or against the personin praesenti - At once; nowin re - In the matterin rem - A proceeding against a thingin specie - In the same or in similar form
  • 3. instanter - Immediatelyinter alia, inter alios - Among other things or between other personsinter se - Among themselvesinter vivos - Between the living; or from one person to anotherin toto - In the whole; completelyin transitu - In transitintra - Within; insideipse dixit - He himself said (it), as an assertion made but not provedipso facto - By the fact itselfita est - so it isjura personarum - Right of a person, rights of personsjura rerum - Rights of thingsjure divino - By divine rightsjure uxoris - In his wife’s rightjus - Law o r rightjus ad rem - A right to a thingjus commune - The common law or common rightjus gentium - The law of nations or international lawjust habendi - The right to have a thing and retain the profitsjus tertii - The right of a third partylevari facias - Cause to be levied, a writ of executionlex - Lawlex loci - The law of the place where the cause of action aroselis pendens - Litigation pendinglocus delicti - The place of the crimelocus sigilli - The place for the sealmala - Badmala fides - Bad faithmala in se - An act that is morally wrongmala praxis - Malpracticemala prohibita - An act declared as criminal by statutemala animo - Acting with evil intentmandamus - A writ used to compel an official to perform a required actmanu forti - Forcible entrymens rea - Guilty mindnihil dicit - He says nothingnil - Nothingnil debet - He owes nothingnisi prius - Distinguishing the trial court from the appellate courtnolle prosequi - Unwilling to prosecutenolo contendere - “I will not contest it”; a criminal pleanon - Notnon assumpsit - Plea in defense; that he did not promisenon compos mentis - “Not of sound mind”non est factum - “It is not his deed”
  • 4. non obstante - Notwithstandingnon sequitur - “It does not follow”nota bene - Note well; take noticenudum pactum - A bare agreement lacking considerationnul tort - “No wrong done”nulla bona - “No good”nunc pro tunc - “Now for then”obiter dictum - A remark made by a court that is not central to a main issue in the case.onus probandi - Burden of Proofopus - Work or laborore tenus - By word of mouthpari delicto - In equal faultpari passu - By equal progresspater familias - Father of the familypeculium - Private propertypendens - “Pending”pendente lite - Pending the suit, during litigationper annum - Annual, by the yearper capita - By the head, equally sharedper contra - “In opposition”per curiam - “By the court”per diem - By the dayper se - Taken aloneper stirpes - By the roots or stock (for purposes of inheritance)post - After, laterpost-factum - After the factpost-obit - Taking effect after deathpraecipe - A Writ commanding a person to do some act or show cause t o be excused fro m actingprima facie - At first sight, on the face of itpro bono - “For the good” Describes services performed free of chargepro forma - “As a matter of form” Describing statements or conclusions based on assumed factspro hac vice - “For this occasion”pro rata - A distribution according to the rate or proportionpro se - Appearing for oneself; personallypro tanto - For so much, to that extentpro tempore - For the time being, temporarilyprochein ami - “Next friend”publici juris - Of public rightpur autre vie - For or during the life of anotherquaere - A question or queryquaerens - The plaintiffquantum - How much, the amountquare - “Wherefore”quasi - As if, as if it were truequid pro quo - “Something for something”
  • 5. quo warranto - “By what right or authority”res - the thing, object or subject matterres gestae - Things done; an excited utteranceres ipsa loquitur - “The t hing speaks for itself”res judicita - “A thing or matter adjudged”respondeat superior - “Let the master answer”scienter - Knowledgescilicet - “To wit; or namely”scintilla - A sparkscire facias - Give noticesecundum - According tose defendendo - “In self defense”semper - Alwaysseriatim - Severally, separatelysic - Used to indicate an error in original quoted materialsigillum - A sealsine - “Without”sine die - “Without a day assigned for a future meeting”sine qua non - An indispensable condition or partstare decisisstatus quo - “Present state”sua sponte - Voluntarilysub nomine - Under the name ofsub silentio - Without notice being takensui generis - Of its own kind or classsui juris - Of his own rightsupersedeas - Supersedingsupra - Above, cited prior in the documenttenere - To hold, to keeptermininus a quo - The starting pointultra - Beyondultra vires - Without powervenire facias - “That you cause to come”versus - Againstvidelicet - “It is easy to see”vi et armis - “By force and arms”vis-a-vis - One who is face to face with anothervivos - Livingvoir dire - “To speak t he truth”Legal Terms:abatement - Reduction, terminationabrogation - Annulment of a former law by a legislative body, constitutional authority or usageacceptance - Consent to abide by the terms of an offer
  • 6. accession - That which increases the size or value of propertyaccommodation - Arrangement made as a favor to another, not for considerationacknowledgment - Admission, affirmation, or declarationacquittal - Release or discharge of an obligationademption - Satisfaction of a legacy by gift prior to testator’s deathadhesion contract - Standard contract form which a party with little bargaining power must acceptadjudication - Judgment or decision of a courtadministrative law - Body of law promulgated by an administrative agencyadverse possession - Acquiring title to real estate by hostile possessionaffiant - One who makes or swears to the truth of an affidavitaffidavit - Sworn written statementaffirmative defense - an allegation of a responsive pleading negating the allegations in a complaintagent - A person authorized to act for another with the other’s businessagreement - A meeting of the mindsallegation - Assertion made but not provedamortization - The gradual extinction of a monetary obligation by periodic paymentsamnesty - Sovereign forgetfulness of past acts, usually available for a limited timeancillary - Auxiliary, supplemental, subordinateannotation - A remark, note or commentary int ended to illustrate or explainannul - Cancel, make void or destroyanswer - Written pleading by which a defendant responds to plaintiff’s complaintantitrust laws - Federal and state laws to prevent restraint of trade or price fixingappeal - Review by a higher courtappellant - Party who brings / files an appealappellee - Party who defends an appealappraisal - Valuation or estimate of property valuearbitration - the investigation and determination of a dispute by a neutral decision-makerarraignment - Criminal hearing where the accused is formally charged and pleasassault - Threat of imminent bodily harmasset - Property owned by an estateassignment - Transfer any right, title or interest to anotherattestation - The act of witnessing the signing of a documentassumption of the risk - Bar to recovery where a party voluntarily exposes themselves to a riskattachment - Pre-judgment seizure of property based upon court orderattest - Certify or affirm to be true or genuineattorney-in-fact - One appointed to act in specific matters described in a power of attorneyaver - Assert, allege or claimbailment - Delivery of personal property to another to be held for a particular personbeneficiary - One who benefits from the act of anotherbequest - Gift of personal property by willbreach - The unexcused failure to perform when performance is duebrief - A written argument of counselcapacity - Having legal authority or mental abilitycaption - Part of a pleading stating the name of the court, parties, case number, and pleading titlecause of action - Fact s giving rise to a legal remedy, or the legal remedy itself
  • 7. chattel - Personal propertychoate - Perfected or completechose in action - A personal right not yet reduced to a judgmentcivil code - A collection of laws or statutes relating to private rights or remediescivil law - Laws regulating private rights and remedies as opposed to criminal lawCLA - Certified Legal AssistantCode Civil - The law of the State of Louisianacode - Collection of laws or statutes by subject mattercodicil - An addition or change in a willcommon law - The law based upon custom, usage and judicial decisioncommunity property - Property owned in common by a husband and a wifecommutation - Substitution of a lesser punishment for a greater onecondemnation - The process of t aking private property for public use under eminent domainconsideration - Lawful price, motive, or cause impelling influence or inducement for a contractcontract - An agreement between competent parties to do or refrain from doing a lawful actconversion - Wrongful taking of personal property with the permanent intent to deprive its ownercopyright - A right to reap the financial benefits of literary propertycovenant - An agreement or promise, often restricting the use of real estatecreditor - One to whom a debt or obligation is ownedcriminal law - Laws controlling standards of conduct and prescribing punishment for disobediencedebenture - Bond given as evidence of corporate debtdecree - The final order of an equity courtdefamation - That which injures one’s reputation or holds one up to contemptdeponent - One who gives a depositiondeposition - Sworn testimony given in an oral question & answer setting, transcribed by a reporterdevise - Gift of real property by a willdischarge - To release, annul or dismissduress - Unlawful constraint forcing another to perform an actenjoin - To prevent or forbid by injunctionequity - Justice administered by principles of fairnessescheat - The reversion of property to the state where no heirs exist to inherit the sameestop - To stop, bar, preventestoppel - Doctrine preventing legal relief because of a failure to acteviction - To recover real estate by forced removal from the propertyevidentiary - Constituting evidence or proofexemption - An immunity from a general burden, tax, or chargefelony - A crime punishable by imprisonment for one year or morefraud - Any artifice used to deceive anothergeneral denial - Pleading denying allegations without making affirmative defensesgrantee - The buyer of real propertygrantor - The seller of real propertyguarantor - One who agrees to undertake a financial obligation of anotherguaranty - An agreement to undertake the financial obligation of anotherguardian - One responsible to manage personal matters of another who is incompetentguardian ad litem - Person appointed by a court to look after the interest of a child in litigation
  • 8. inchoate - Unfinished, incompleteindemnify - To restore a loss by repayment or repairindictment - A grand jury’s accusation against a defendantindorsement - Writing your name on the back of a commercial instrument to assign it to anotherinfant - One who has not reached the age of majorityinformation - A prosecutor’s written accusation against a defendantinjunction - An court order requiring a person to do or refrain from doing somethinginsolvent - A condition where total liabilities exceed total assetsinterlocutory - Not final, interim, provisionalinterrogatories - A series of formal written questions requiring written answers in discoveryintestate - One who dies without a willjudgment - Final order of a court of lawjurat - Clause of a notary public or authorized attesting witnessjurisdiction - Power conferred on a courtjurisprudence - The science of lawlaches - Doctrine by which equitable relief is denied to one who has waited too long to seek relieflegal assistant - Assists an attorney in the practice of lawlessee - One who possesses or uses the property of another; tenantlessor - The title holder of property who contracts for its possession or use by another; landlordliable - Legally responsiblelibel - Written defamationlien - A charge, security or encumbrance on propertyliquidated - Property or claim that has been converted into cashlitigation - Contest in a court of lawmagistrate- Court officer with limited judicial authoritymalfeasance - Evil doing or performance of an act with bad intentmalpractice - Professional negligencemediation - An attempt at settlement through a neutral partymemorandum of law - A brief of law submitted to a court or written answer to a legal questionmemorandum opinion - A very short opinion of a courtmerger - Absorption of one thing or right into anothermetes and bounds - Method to describe / measure real propertyminor - A person who is not an adultmisdemeanor - A criminal offense punishable by a fine or incarceration for less than one (1) yearmisfeasance - The improper performance of an otherwise lawful actmitigation - Duty to minimize damagesmortgage - A security interest in real estatemortgagee - One who receives a mortgagemortgagor - One who gives a mortgagemotion - An application to receive an interim ruling or ordermotion in limine - Application requesting a court to rule to suppress evidence in advance to trialnegligence - Failure to use the care which a reasonable and prudent person wouldnotary public - Public officer who administers oaths and acknowledges documentsnovation - Substitution of a new contract for an existing onenuncupative - Oral; not in writing
  • 9. oath - A solemn pledge attesting to the truth of a statementoffer - A promise to do or not t o do somethingofferee - One to whom an offer is madeofferor - One who makes an offeroption - Right to purchase supported by considerationorder - A mandate or commandordinance - A legislative enactment by a local governmentparol evidence - Oral proof of contract termsparole - Release from imprisonment upon specified conditionspatent - an inventor’s right to protect an invention for 17 yearspaternity - The father/child relationshippayee - One to whom payment is madepayor - One who makes paymentpecuniary - Monetary or relating to moneyperjury - False testimony given under oathpleading - (In federal court) - a complaint, an answer and a replypower of attorney - Instrument authorizing another to act as an attorney in factprecedent - A holding of a case which guides future decisions in similar circumstancesprivileged communications - Statements made by persons within protected relationshipsprobable cause - Justification to believe that a crime was committedprobation - A sentence releasing a person into the community conditionallypromissory estoppel - Doctrine preventing a party from denying consideration for a contractpromissory note - A written promise to pay a specific sum of money at a future timeproximate cause - Legal act; last act leading to an injuryproxy - An instrument authorizing one to cast votes of another at a corporat e meetingpunitive damages - Damages to punish the wrongdoerquash - Suppressquiet title action - Action to determine clear title to real propertyquitclaim deed - A deed that does not contain any warrantiesrecidivist - A repeat offenderrelease - The discharge of an obligationreplevin - An action to recover person propertyrescission - An equitable remedy invalidating a contract because of fraud or mistakerestitution - Restoration damagesservice of process - Delivery of a writ and summons to a named personsettlor - One who creates a trustslander - Oral or spoken defamationspecific performance - An equitable remedy requiring performance of contract termsstatute - A legislative enactmentstatute of limitations - A statute limiting the time that a cause of action may be filedstipulation - An agreement between partiessubpoena - A writ commanding one’s appearancesubpoena duces tecum - A writ commanding the named person to appear and bring documentssummons - Notice that a suit has been filed with a direction to respondsurvey - A process to measure a tract of land
  • 10. temporary restraining order - An emergency injunctive remedytestimonium clause - “In witness whereof”tickler system - Reminder systemtort - a civil wrongtrust account - The account for client fundsunco nscionable - Grossly unfairusury - The excess over the lawful interest ratevendee - The purchaser or buyer of propertyvendor - The seller of propertyvenue - The location where an action is triedverdict - The finding of fact by a jury or a judgeverification - Confirmation of accuracyvoid - Having no legal force or effectvoidable - Tat which is capable of being declared invalidwarranty - A promise to defend the truthwarranty deed - A deed conveying land guaranteeing that the title is free of certain defectswith prejudice - A declaration ending the right to further reliefwithout prejudice - A declaration preserving rights or privilegeswitness - One with personal knowledge about facts related to a casewrit of execution - A post-judgment order to seize property in order to satisfy the judgment