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TK Law Group Blog


Landlords and Pitbulls, Part 3
Maryland court finds pit bulls are 'inherently dangerous' – nbcwashington.com



Landlords and Pitbulls, Part 2
Pit bull ruling outrages rescue groups, owners. – CBS News




TK Law Group News


Michael Kornbluth and J. Michael Genest will be speaking on December 10, 2013
Michael Kornbluth and J. Michael Genest will be speaking on December 10, 2013



Micahel Kornbluth elected to the Labor & Employment Section Council of the North Carolina Bar Association (NCBA)
Michael Kornbluth, Managing Partner of Taibi Kornbluth Law Group, P.A., has been elected to the Labor & Employment ...

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Legal Glossary
 
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A
Action: Case, cause, suit, or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.

Affidavit: A written statement of facts confirmed by the oath of the party making it, before a notary or officer having authority to administer oaths. For example, in criminal cases, affidavits are often used by police officers seeking to convince courts to grant a warrant to make an arrest or a search. In civil cases, affidavits of witnesses are often used to support motions for summary judgment.

Allegation: A statement of the issues in a written document (a pleading) which a person is prepared to prove in court. For example, an indictment contains allegations of crimes against the defendant.

Alternative Dispute Resolution: Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.

Answer: The defendant's response to the plaintiffs allegations as stated in a complaint. An item-by-item, paragraph-by-paragraph response to points made in a complaint; part of the pleadings.

Appeal: A request made after a trial, asking another court (usually the court of appeals) to decide whether the trial was conducted properly. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the appellant.

Arbitration: A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party and agree to abide by his or her decision. In arbitration there is a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard
B
Bench Trial: Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts.

Brief: A written statement prepared by one side in a lawsuit to explain to the court its view of the facts of a case and the applicable law.

Burden of Proof: In the law of evidence, the necessity or duty of affirmatively proving a fact or facts in dispute on an issue raised between the parties in a lawsuit. The responsibility of proving a point (the burden of proof) is not the same as the standard of proof. Burden of proof deals with which side must establish a point or points; standard of proof indicates the degree to which the point must be proven. For example, in a civil case the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, who must establish his or her case by such standards of proof as a preponderance of evidence or clear and convincing evidence.
C
Calendar: List of cases scheduled for hearing in court.

Case Law: Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts, particularly the Supreme Court.

Cause: A lawsuit, litigation, or action. Any question, civil or criminal, litigated or contested before a court of justice.

Cause of action: The facts that give rise to a lawsuit or a legal claim.

Citation: 1. A reference to a source of legal authority. 2. A direction to appear in court, as when a defendant is cited into court, rather than arrested.

Civil Actions: Noncriminal cases in which one private individual or business sues another to protect, enforce, or redress private or civil rights.

Civil Procedure: The rules and process by which a civil case is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.

Class Action: A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.

Closing Argument: The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.

Complaint: 1. The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit. It states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked to take. 2. Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense.

Continuance: Postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.

Contract: A legally enforceable agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in writing.

Contributory Negligence: A legal doctrine that says if the plaintiff in a civil action for negligence also was negligent, he or she cannot recover damages from the defendant for the defendant's negligence. Most jurisdictions have abandoned the doctrine of contributory negligence in favor of comparative negligence.

Corroborating Evidence: Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.

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

Counterclaim: A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.

Court Administrator/Clerk of Court: An officer appointed by the Court or elected to oversee the administrative, non-judicial activities of the court.

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-Claim: A claim by codefendant or co-plaintiffs against each other and not against persons on the opposite side of the lawsuit.

Cross-Examination: The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.
D
Damages: Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful act or negligence of another person.

Defamation: That which tends to injure a persons reputation. Libel is published defamation, whereas slander is spoken.

Default: A failure to respond to a lawsuit within the specified time.

Default Judgment: A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the charges.

Defendant: In a civil case, the person being sued. In a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.

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.

Directed Verdict: Now called Judgment as a matter of Law. An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.

Direct Evidence: Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken.

Direct Examination: The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

Discovery: The pretrial process by which one party discovers the evidence that will be relied upon in the trial by the opposing party.

Dismissal: The termination of a lawsuit. A dismissal without prejudice allows a lawsuit to be brought before the court again at a later time. In contrast, a dismissal with prejudice prevents the lawsuit from being brought before a court in the future.

Docket: A list of cases to be heard by a court or a log containing brief entries of court proceedings.
E
Estoppel: A person's own act, or acceptance of facts, which preclude his or her later making claims to the contrary.

Et al: And others.

Evidence: Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.

Execute: To complete the legal requirements (such as signing before witnesses) that make a will valid. Also, to execute a judgment or decree means to put the final judgment of the court into effect.

Exhibit: A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.
F
Fiduciary: A person having a legal relationship of trust and confidence to another and having a duty to act primarily for the others benefit, e.g., a guardian, trustee, or executor.

Finding: Formal conclusion by a judge or regulatory agency on issues of fact. Also, a conclusion by a jury regarding a fact.

Fraud: Intentional deception to deprive another person of property or to injure that person in some other way.
I
Inadmissible: That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received as evidence.

In Camera: In chambers, or in private. A hearing in camera takes place in the judge's office outside of the presence of the jury and the public.

Injunction: Writ or order by a court prohibiting a specific action from being carried out by a person or group. A preliminary injunction is granted provisionally, until a full hearing can be held to determine if it should be made permanent.

Interrogatories: Written questions asked by one party in a lawsuit for which the opposing party must provide written answers.
J
Joint and Several Liability: A legal doctrine that makes each of the parties who are responsible for an injury, liable for all the damages awarded in a lawsuit if the other parties responsible cannot pay.

Joint Tenancy: A form of legal co-ownership of property (also known as survivorship). At the death of one co-owner, the surviving co-owner becomes sole owner of the property. Tenancy by the entirety is a special form of joint tenancy between a husband and wife.

Judgment: The final disposition of a lawsuit. Default judgment is a judgment rendered because of the defendant's failure to answer or appear. Summary judgment is a judgment given on the basis of pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits presented for the record without any need for a trial. It is used when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law. Consent judgment occurs when the provisions and terms of the judgment are agreed on by the parties and submitted to the court for its sanction and approval.

Jury: Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact. A petit jury is an ordinary or trial jury, composed of six to 12 persons, which hears either civil or criminal cases.
L
Liable: Legally responsible.

Libel: Published words or pictures that falsely and maliciously defame a person. Libel is published defamation; slander is spoken.

Lien: A legal claim against another person's property as security for a debt. A lien does not convey ownership of the property, but gives the lien holder a right to have his or her debt satisfied out of the proceeds of the property if the debt is not otherwise paid.

Litigant: A party to a lawsuit. Litigation refers to a case, controversy, or lawsuit.
M
Mediation: A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.

Memorialized: In writing.

Motion: Oral or written request made by a party to an action before, during, or after a trial, upon which a court issues a ruling or order.
N
Negligence: Failure to exercise the degree of care that a reasonable person would exercise under the same circumstances.

Notice: Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.
 
O
Opinion: A judge's written explanation of a decision of the court or of a majority of judges. A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning and/or the principles of law on which the decision is based. A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the court but offers further comment. A per curiam opinion is an unsigned opinion "of the court."

Oral Argument: An opportunity for lawyers to summarize their position before the court and also to answer the judges' questions.

Order: A written or oral command from a court directing or forbidding an action.
P
Party: A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution or defense of a legal proceeding.

Permanent Injunction: A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.

Personal Property: Tangible physical property (such as cars, clothing, furniture, and jewelry) and intangible personal property. This does not include real property such as land or rights in land.

Petitioner: The person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court. The opposing party is called the respondent.

Plaintiff: The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit. Also called the complainant.

Pleadings: The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.

Power of Attorney: Formal authorization of a person to act in the interests of another person.

Precedent: A previously decided case that guides the decision of future cases.

Preponderance of the Evidence: Greater weight of the evidence, the common standard of proof in civil cases.

Pre-Trial Conference: A meeting between the judge and the lawyers involved in a lawsuit to narrow the issues in the suit, agree on what will be presented at the trial, and make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.

Prima Facie Case: A case that is sufficient and has the minimum amount of evidence necessary to allow it to continue in the judicial process.

Proximate cause: The act that caused an event to occur. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.
Q
Quash: To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.
R
Reasonable Person: A phrase used to denote a hypothetical person who exercises qualities of attention, knowledge, intelligence, and judgment that society requires of its members for the protection of their own interest and the interests of others. Thus, the test of negligence is based on either a failure to do something that a reasonable person, guided by considerations that ordinarily regulate conduct, would do, or on the doing of something that a reasonable and prudent (wise) person would not do.

Rebut: Evidence disproving other evidence previously given or reestablishing the credibility of challenged evidence.

Record: All the documents and evidence plus transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.

Recuse: The process by which a judge is disqualified from hearing a case, on his or her own motion or upon the objection of either party.

Re-Direct Examination: Opportunity to present rebuttal evidence after one's evidence has been subjected to cross-examination.

Redress: To set right; to remedy; to compensate; to remove the causes of a grievance.

Rejoinder: Opportunity for the side that opened the case to offer limited response to evidence presented during the rebuttal by the opposing side.

Remand: To send a dispute back to the court where it was originally heard. Usually it is an appellate court that remands a case for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the appellate court's ruling.

Remedy: Legal or judicial means by which a right or privilege is enforced or the violation of a right or privilege is prevented, redressed, or compensated.

Remittitur: The reduction by a judge of the damages awarded by a jury.

Removal: The transfer of a state case to federal court for trial; in civil cases, because the parties are from different states; in criminal and some civil cases, because there is a significant possibility that there could not be a fair trial in state court.

Reply: The response by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.

Respondent: The person against whom an appeal is taken. See petitioner.

Rest: A party is said to rest or rest its case when it has presented all the evidence it intends to offer.

Restitution: Act of giving the equivalent for any loss, damage or injury.

Retainer: Act of the client in employing the attorney or counsel, and also denotes the fee which the client pays when he or she retains the attorney to act for them.

Reverse: An action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.

Reversible Error: A procedural error during a trial or hearing sufficiently harmful to justify reversing the judgment of a lower court.

Revoke: To cancel or nullify a legal document.

Rules of Evidence: Standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.
S
Service: The delivery of a legal document, such as a complaint, summons, or subpoena, notifying a person of a lawsuit or other legal action taken against him or her. Service, which constitutes formal legal notice, must be made by an officially authorized person in accordance with the formal requirements of the applicable laws.

Settlement: An agreement between the parties disposing of a lawsuit.

Slander: False and defamatory spoken words tending to harm another's reputation, business, or means of livelihood. Slander is spoken defamation; libel is published.

Small Claims Court: A court that handles civil claims for small amounts of money. People often represent themselves rather than hire an attorney.

Statute of Limitations: The time within which a plaintiff must begin a lawsuit (in civil cases) or a prosecutor must bring charges (in criminal cases). There are different statutes of limitations at both the federal and state levels for different kinds of lawsuits or crimes.

Stay: A court order halting a judicial proceeding.

Stipulation: An agreement by attorneys on both sides of a civil or criminal case about some aspect of the case; e.g., to extend the time to answer, to adjourn the trial date, or to admit certain facts at the trial.

Subpoena: A court order compelling a witness to appear and testify.

Summary Judgment: 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 judgment as a matter of law.

Summons: A notice to a defendant that he or she has been sued or charged with a crime and is required to appear in court. A jury summons requires the person receiving it to report for possible jury duty

Sustain: A court ruling upholding an objection or a motion.
T
Temporary Relief: Any form of action by a court granting one of the parties an order to protect its interest pending further action by the court.

Temporary Restraining Order: A judge's order forbidding certain actions until a full hearing can be held. Usually of short duration. Often referred to as a TRO.

Testimony: The evidence given by a witness under oath. It does not include evidence from documents and other physical evidence.

Third Party: A person, business, or government agency not actively involved in a legal proceeding, agreement, or transaction.

Third-Party Claim: An action by the defendant that brings a third party into a lawsuit.

Title: Legal ownership of property, usually real property or automobiles.

Tort: An injury or wrong committed on the person or property of another. A tort is an infringement on the rights of an individual, but not founded on a contract. The most common tort action is a suit for damages sustained in an automobile accident.

Transcript: A written, word-for-word record of what was said, either in a proceeding such as a trial or during some other conversation, as in a transcript of a hearing or oral deposition.
U
Unsecured: In bankruptcy proceedings, for the purposes of filing a claim, a claim is unsecured if there is no collateral, or to the extent the value of collateral is less than the amount of the debt.
V
Vacate: To set aside. To vacate a judgment is to set aside that judgment.

Venue: The proper geographical area (county, city, or district) in which a court with jurisdiction over the subject matter may hear a case.

Verdict: A conclusion, as to fact or law, that forms the basis for the court's judgment. A general verdict is a jury's finding for or against a plaintiff after determining the facts and weighing them according to the judge's instructions regarding the law.
W
Without Prejudice: A claim or cause dismissed without prejudice may be the subject of a new lawsuit.

With Prejudice: Applied to orders of judgment dismissing a case, meaning that the plaintiff is forever barred from bringing a lawsuit on the same claim or cause.

Witness: A person who testifies to what he or she has seen, heard. or otherwise experienced. Also, a person who observes the signing of a will and is competent to testify that it is the will-maker's intended last will and testament.

Writ: A judicial order directing a person to do something.