Content on this page requires a newer version of Adobe Flash Player.

Get Adobe Flash player


Jury
Case Information
Forms
Attorneys & Press
Representing Yourself
Fee Schedules
Pay Traffic Fines Online
Tentative Rulings
Alternative Dispute Resolution
Civil
Criminal
Family
Juvenile
Probate
Small Claims
Traffic
Archives
Contact
General Information
Court Reporter Information
Courthouses
Rules
Childcare
Employment
Court Holidays
Useful Links
Procurement
Browsing in General Information > Glossary

Glossary of Terms


A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z #

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


- A -

abrogate
To destroy or annul a former law by legislative act or constitutional authority.
abstract
A summarized record of the actions taken by a court or other governmental agency.
Abstract of Judgment
A summary of the final decision of a court. May be filed with the county recorder to act as a lien.
Accomplice
A person who knowingly and willingly assists the principal offender in the commission of a crime.
Accused
A person or persons against whom a criminal proceeding is initiated. (see Defendant)
Acknowledgment
The act of declaring, testifying, or certifying that something is genuine. This can be done orally or in writing.
Acquittal
The legal finding by a judge or jury that the accused is not guilty.
Action
A court proceeding when one party prosecutes another for the protection or enforcement of a right, the prevention or correction of a wrong, or the punishment of an offense.
Active Status
The status of a case when it is within a court's control for purposes of disposition. (see Pending)
Ad Hoc Vice
An attorney not licensed in California who is allowed to practice for only a single case.
Adjournment
The act of postponing a court session to another time or place.
Adjudicate
To exercise judicial authority in settling a legal dispute.
Adjudication
The judgment or decision of the court or jury regarding a case or cause.
Ad Litem
From the Latin: "For the suit"; for the purpose of the suit.
Admission
The voluntary acknowledgment that certain facts do exist or are true, which are, of themselves, insufficient to be considered confessions of guilt. (compare Confession)
Admonish
To warn, advise, or scold.
Admonition to Jury
A statement given by a judge to a panel of jurors advising them of (1) their duty and expected conduct as jurors, (2) the admissibility or non-admissibility of evidence, and (3) the purpose for which admitted evidence may be considered.
Adoption
The judicial act creating the legal parental relationship when no genetic linkage exists.
Adverse Witness
A person called to testify by the other side of the litigation.
Affidavit
A written statement of facts, sworn to under oath, in the presence of someone legally authorized to administer it: e.g., judge, notary public.
Affirm
To make a solemn declaration; an oath used when a person does not want to swear to the truth of something.
Affirmation
A finding by an appellate court that the judgment of a lower court is correct and should stand.
Alimony
Spousal financial support ordered by the court.
Allegation
A statement or assertion made without proof.
Allege
To state, assert, or charge that something is fact, although it has not yet been proven so.
Amend
To add to or alter a charge that has been filed.
Amicus Curiae
From the Latin: "Friend of the court"; a person invited to advise a court on a matter of law in a case to which he or she is not a party.
Answer
A written pleading filed by the responding party in a civil case addressing the facts alleged in the complaint.
Appeal
A request to a higher court for review of a lower court ruling. Generally, municipal court matters are appealed to a superior court, superior court matters are appealed to the Courts of Appeal, and Court of Appeal matters are appealed to the State Supreme Court.
Appearance
The formal act of presenting oneself physically to the jurisdiction of a court; a document identifying representing counsel.
Appellant
A person who appeals a judgment of a court.
Appellate Court
A court having jurisdiction to review the law as applied to a prior determination of the same case.
Arbitration
Action in which conflicting parties agree to submit issues to an impartial third party.
Arraignment
The initial hearing after an arrest which marks the beginning of the judicial process. The accused is given a copy of the complaint, informed of the charges filed, and advised of constitutional rights. Bail is set at this hearing. The accused can, but does not have to, enter a plea at this time.
Arrest
The legal apprehension of a person charged with a crime.
Assault
A threat or attempt to do bodily harm which falls short of actual Battery, may or may not include physical violence.
Assignment
The act of selecting for a duty or purpose. Generally used in one of the following contexts: (of Cases) Refers to a court's use of a calendar system to assign cases to judges. (of Counsel) Refers to the appointment of attorneys for juveniles, conservatees, and indigent criminal defendants. (of Judges) The function performed by the Administrative Office of the Courts in assigning judges to the various courts to handle vacancies caused by disqualification, vacations, illness, etc., or to help reduce the number of cases pending in a court.
At-issue Memorandum
A document filed by one or more parties in a civil case indicating the case's readiness to be set for trial. (see Memorandum to Set)
Attachment
A document filed by one or more parties in a civil case indicating the case's readiness to be set for trial. (see Memorandum to Set)
Attorney of Record
An attorney in the permanent case record who represents a party in an action.
Audit
An official examination of records or accounts to check their accuracy and completeness.

Back to Top Back to Top


- B -

Backlog
A total inventory of cases that have not reached disposition within mandated timeframes.
Bail
A sum of money or other form of security demanded by the court; (1) in exchange for the release of the accused from custody, and (2) to guarantee his/her later appearance in court.
Bail Bond
A document purchased from a bondsman which is given to the court instead of money for bail. Once signed by the defendant, he/she is released from custody on the condition that the amount will be forfeited should the defendant not appear in court at the required time.
Bail Exoneration
The refund of a bail deposit to the depositor or release of liability to a surety company.
Bail Forfeiture
The retention by court order of a bail deposit for failure to appear in court at an appointed time.
Bail Notice
A document produced by the court stating that unless a defendant appears in court or posts bail, a warrant for arrest will be issued.
Bail Receipt
A written statement given to a defendant by the court proving that a bail deposit has been received.
Bail Record Journal
A record of every surety bond deposited in the bails and fines office. (see Surety Bond)
Bail Schedule
A listing of the recommended amount of bail for specific charges. For misdemeanors, the bail generally refers to traffic fines that are standardized statewide. In criminal cases, the bail generally refers to the amount set at the discretion of the court to secure release from custody.
Bailiff
A court attendant assigned by a sheriff, marshal, or constable to provide security to the court.
Bankruptcy
A federal court proceeding started by a person who cannot pay his or her debts and whose remaining property is administered for his or her creditors or distributed among them.
Bar
The whole body of lawyers qualified to practice law within any geographical area.
Battery
Any unlawful beating or other wrongful physical violence or constraint inflicted on a person without his consent. (compare Assault)
Bench
1) The actual physical desk where a judge sits in court. 2) The body of judges referred to as a whole or individually.
Bench Warrant
A written order issued by the Court from the judge or bench commanding a person's arrest. (see Warrant, Writ)
Bind
To create a legal obligation upon oneself or upon another.
Bind Over
In felony cases, the transfer of a case to superior court for trial after an initial hearing to determine if the case does in fact involve a felony.
Blood Test
A chemical analysis of a blood sample from a person to determine the percentage of a foreign substance in the bloodstream.
Bona Fide
From the Latin: "For/in or with good faith."
Bond
A deed or instrument that binds, restrains, or obligates a person. In the courts, a bond is a written statement which obligates one person to pay a specified amount of money to another person.
Book (Booking)
A process done by police at the time of arrest which involves fingerprinting, photographing, and writing down personal data.
Breath Test
A chemical analysis of one's breath to determine the percentage of alcohol fumes.
Brief
A written argument submitted to the court by counsel setting forth facts and/or law supporting his or her client's case.

Back to Top Back to Top


- C -

Calendar
An alphabetical, categorized list of each case to be heard in each courtroom every day. To calendar something means to assign a day, time, and courtroom to a case.
CALJIC
California Jury Instructions, Criminal.
Capital Case
A criminal case in which death may be the punishment.
Case
A lawsuit or term used to describe any complaint filed in the criminal, traffic, or civil division in a court.
Case File
The folder that contains the official court documents for a specific case.
Caseflow Management
The process of effectively managing cases from initial filing through final disposition.
Caseload
The number of cases a judge handles in a specific time period.
Cause of Action
The charges or counts that make the basis for a case or lawsuit.
Caveat Emptor
From the Latin: "Let the buyer beware (or take case)".
Certification
A written order by a judge which transfers a criminal case to another court in a different jurisdiction.
Certified Copy
An official copy of a particular document from a case file that is notated as a true, complete, and authentic representation of the original document.
Challenge
The right of a party to object to or dispute something.
Challenge for Cause
Reasons given by an attorney to support a request that a potential juror or judge be removed from service on a particular case. (compare Peremptory Challenge)
Change of Venue
The transfer of a civil or criminal case from one judicial district to another. (see Venue)
Charge
In criminal law, the formal statement of each accusation against a defendant. (see Count)
Chattel
An article of personal property.
Citation
An order or summons notifying a defendant/respondent of the charges being made; and commanding the defendant to appear in court and/or post bail.
Cited
A condition in which a defendant is not in custody but has signed a citation agreeing to appear in court on a specified day.
Citing Authority or Agency
A court-related agency, such as city police or the California Highway Patrol, that has the power to arrest persons for violations of the law.
Civil Case
An action brought by a person or party to recover property, to force someone to honor a contract, or to protect one's civil rights.
Civil Jurisdiction
The authority, capacity, power, or right of a court to hear noncriminal matters. The municipal courts have original trial jurisdiction in actions in which the amount involved is $25,000 or less. The superior courts have original trial jurisdiction in civil matters involving over $25,000 and in all civil matters involving family law, probate, mental health, and property taxes.
Civil Process
Documents that either notify the parties involved that a civil case is in progress or try to force a judgment of the issues involved.
Code of Law
A publication that contains the laws regarding general legal topics; e.g., the Code of Civil Procedure, the Civil Code, the Vehicle Code, the Penal Code, the Health and Safety Code.
Codicil
A supplement or amendment to a will.
Commissioner
A person appointed by the court who is given the power to hear and make decisions concerning certain limited legal matters: e.g., jury commissioner, traffic commissioner, small claims commissioner.
Commit
To do or perform something "to commit a crime". To turn a party over to a sheriff's custody. To send a person to jail by means of court order or other lawful authority.
Commitment Order
A court order directing that a person be kept in custody, usually in a penal or mental institution.
Common Barratry (also Barretry)
The offense of equally exciting and stirring up quarrels and suits; initiating groundless judicial proceedings.
Compensatory Damages
The amount of money to be paid by one person to another which covers only the actual cost or equivalent cost of the wrong or injury caused.
Competence Order
An order from a superior court finding a defendant mentally competent to stand trial and directing the municipal or justice court to proceed with criminal case processing.
Complainant
A person who instigates legal proceedings in court against another. (see Plaintiff)
Complaint
A document submitted by the plaintiff or the district attorney that lists and describes alleged wrongs committed by the defendant. In civil proceedings, the complaint is the first written document filed with the court on the part of the plaintiff. In criminal proceedings, the complaint is the formal charge filed at the municipal court alleging that a specified person has committed a crime.
Concurrent Sentences
Sentences served at the same time: e.g., concurrent sentences of 10 years and 5 years equal a total of 10 years served. (compare Consecutive Sentences)
Confession
A statement by a person, either oral or written, admitting that he or she committed a certain offense. (compare Admission)
Confidential Record
Any information introduced into a court proceeding that is not available to the general public. (see Public Record)
Conform Copies
To receive or endorse file copies of an original document.
Consecutive Sentences
Two or more sentences served continuously, one right after another: e.g., consecutive sentences of 10 years and 5 years equal a total of 15 years served. (compare Concurrent Sentences)
Conservatee
A person who is unable to care for himself or herself and who has a court-appointed caretaker.
Conservator
A person appointed by the court to take care of a conservatee and/or property of one who is unable to care for himself or herself.
Consolidation of Actions
The grouping of multiple cases involving the same parties. (compare Coordination of Cases)
Constable
A peace officer assigned as the bailiff to a court.
Contempt
An act or omission that obstructs the orderly administration of justice or impairs the dignity, respect, or authority of the court. May be demonstrated in behavior which shows intentional disregard of or disobedience of a court order both of which may be punishable by fine or imprisonment.
Contested
A kind of case in which evidence is introduced by both parties.
Continuance
The adjournment or postponement of an action pending in a court to a future date. (see Adjournment; compare Recess)
Continued
Postponed.
Contract
An agreement between two or more persons that creates, changes, or eliminates a legal relationship.
Convey
To transfer title to property; to make known or communicate.
Conviction
The determination of guilt based on a plea, a jury verdict, or a finding of a judicial officer.
Coordination of Cases
The assignment of multiple cases with same/like charges or issues to a single jurisdiction within the state to ensure consistent disposition. (compare Consolidation of Actions)
Coram Nobis
From the Latin: "Before us, in our presence"; refers to a writ to bring errors of fact to the attention of the court for the purpose of having the judgment set aside.
Costs
An award of money for expenses in a civil suit.
Counsel
A person qualified to represent clients in a court of law and to advise them in legal matters. (see Attorney, Lawyer)
Count
Each distinct statement of cause of action. (see Charge)
Counterclaim
An independent cause of action by one party (either a plaintiff or a defendant) that opposes or offsets a previous claim made by the other party. (compare Cross-claim)
Court
A judge or body of judges whose task is to hear cases and administer justice. (see Bench) General Jurisdiction-A court that has original trial jurisdiction over all subject matter or persons within its geographical limits except those that may be assigned by law to a limited jurisdiction court, such as a municipal court. (see Superior Court) Limited Jurisdiction-A court that has jurisdiction over only specific subject matter or persons (as opposed to all subject matter or persons) assigned by law or statute to that court. (see Municipal Court) Of Record-A court whose proceedings are permanently recorded. All California courts are courts of record.
Court Liaison Officer
A representative from a court-related agency (public defender, probation officer) who brings information and papers to the court.
Court Recorder
A person who records the activities of a court using an electronic recording device.
Court Reporter
A certified stenographer who transcribes a verbatim record of certain court proceedings and who must provide a written record of same upon demand.
Court Stamp
An embossed seal press or stamp which will print or emboss a seal that will reproduce legibly under photographic methods and may include the name of the judicial district or consolidate city and county upon it.
Court Trial
A trial in which there is no jury and in which a judicial officer determines both the issues of fact and the law in a case.
Courtesy Notice
A computer-generated notice, generally sent for traffic violations, to advise a defendant of a court appearance, date, bail information, etc.
Crime
An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it and to which is annexed upon conviction either or a combination of the following punishments: 1) Death; 2) Imprisonment; 3) Fine; 4) Removal from office; 5) Disqualification to hold and enjoy any office of honor, trust or profit. (see Public Offense)
Criminal
One who has been convicted of a felony or a misdemeanor.
Criminal Case
A case which arises out of a crime.
Cross-complaint/Cross-claim
A claim litigated by codefendant(s) or coplaintiff(s) against each other. (compare Counterclaim)
Cross-defendant
The person named in a cross-claim as the defendant.
Cross-examination
The examination and question of testimony given by a witness that represents the other side of a controversy at a trial, hearing, or deposition.
Custody
To put under the restraint and physical control of the court to insure appearance in court or to imprison an accused after a criminal conviction.
Custody List
A daily list provided by the county jail through the marshal's office giving the court the names of people in custody in various detention facilities who have to appear for hearings during the day. May also be called "transportation list".

Back to Top Back to Top


- D -

Damages
An award of money paid by the guilty party to the injured party to compensate for losses or injuries incurred. Compensatory-Money ordered to be paid as compensation for injury or loss. Punitive/Exemplary-Compensation in excess of actual damages to serve as punishment for willful or malicious acts by the defendant as and against the aggrieved party or parties in the lawsuit.
Decedent
In criminal law, refers to the victim of a homicide; in probate matters, refers to a dead person.
Decision
A judgment or decree issued by the court which settles a controversy.
Declaration
In the law of evidence, an unsworn statement evidencing, supporting, establishing in writing made by a person and which is certified or declared under penalty of perjury to be true and correct. All declarations must be dated and signed by the declarant and must show the place of execution and name the state wherein the document was executed or otherwise, that the declaration is made under the laws of the state of California.
Decree
(Interlocutory) Preliminary finding before final disposition. (Final) Final judgment in which all issues of a case are settled.
Deem
To consider or be of an opinion: e.g., to deem it necessary.
Defamation
The offense of injuring a person's character, fame, or reputation by false and malicious statements.
Default
A term meaning the failure to appear, to defend, or to follow proper procedure in a lawsuit. Court Default: Results from a failure to appear for trial after a memo to set has been served on a party. Request for Entry of Default: Must be initiated by written application to the court after filing the original summons and proof of service of each of the named defendants who are in default.
Default Judgment
Disposition entered when a person fails to appear in or respond to a plaintiff's action.
Defendant
The accused person or party; the person named as the wrong-doer in a civil or criminal action.
Defense Attorney
In criminal proceedings, refers to the attorney representing the accused.
Deferred Fine
Payment of a fine postponed until a later date. This term is sometimes referred to as a fine stay.
Delay Reduction
Court management of cases to reduce unacceptable periods of time without action in case processing.
Delete
To omit, leave out, or remove.
Deliberate
To consider all of the evidence and arguments presented in regard to a particular matter.
Delinquent
A minor who has committed an act that would be a crime if it were committed by an adult.
Demurrer
The pleading of a defendant stating that, although the facts presented by a plaintiff may be true, as set forth they are insufficient to prove legal responsibility or obligation of the defendant.
De Novo
From the Latin: "About the new"; trying a matter again as if it had not been heard before.
Dependent
In family law, refers to a person who is financially supported by another person, usually the parent. In juvenile law, refers to a minor who is in the custody of the court because he or she has been abused, neglected, or molested or is physically dangerous to the public due to a mental or physical disorder.
Deposition
Testimony, either written or oral, given under oath before an authorized third party. A deposition is given outside the court for the purpose of perpetuating testimony, obtaining testimony from a witness living at a distance, and to aid in the preparation of pleadings.
Detention
Temporary custody of a person while the court forms a final decision or opinion.
Determination
A judgment or decision by the court ending a lawsuit or controversy.
Deuce
Colloquial term for driving under the influence of an intoxicating drug or liquor.
Dictum
A cited case that is relative but not necessary to the case determination.
Direct Examination
Questioning of a witness by the party on whose behalf the witness was called to testify. (compare Cross-examination)
Disbursement
Distribution of money the court receives through fines or bail to the persons who should receive the money, as dictated by government codes.
Discovery
The gathering of information (facts, documents, or testimony)before a case goes to trial. Discovery may be formal in the form of depositions, interrogatories, or requests for admissions, or discovery can take place more informally through independent investigation or conversations with opposing counsel.
Dismissal
The disposition that occurs when a court orders discharge without further court hearing. With prejudice-Bars the right to ever bring a charge or a lawsuit on the same claim or cause. Without prejudice-Disposes of the particular charge or lawsuit before the court but permits a new charge or lawsuit to be brought based on the same claim or cause.
Disposition
The final settlement by the court in a controversy.
Disqualification
Refers to the disqualification (usually voluntary) of a judge from hearing a case, generally based on any interest that may impair the ability of the judge to decide the case in a fair and impartial manner.
Dissolution
The act of terminating a marriage; divorce. (Compare Nullity)
Diversion
An alternative sentence (rather than jail) in which a defendant is supervised by a probation officer while attending a rehabilitation program so that upon successful completion the charges are dismissed without adjudication. (compare Electronic Surveillance, Home Detention)
Docket
The permanent, cumulative record of all proceedings of a case as required by law; a list of cases on a court's calendar.
Due Process
The regular course of administration of law through the courts. A constitutional guarantee of due process requires that every person have the protection of a day in court, representation by an attorney, and the benefit of procedures that are speedy, fair, and impartial.

Back to Top Back to Top


- E -

Early Neutral Evaluation
A process in which a neutral attorney, or a panel of attorneys, facilitates early settlement of a case through a nonbinding case evaluation. The evaluation involves a confidential, frank assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the parties' positions and of the overall value of the case. (Compare Arbitration, Mediation)
Electronic Surveillance
Use of an electronic device to monitor the whereabouts and restrict the activities of a sentenced party in lieu of having the party serve time in jail. (see Home Detention)
Eminent Domain
The right of the state to take private property for public use and provide fair compensation to the owner.
En Banc
Literally, "in a group." Defendants are advised of their constitutional rights at the time of arraignment in a large group, rather than individually.
Endorse
To sign one's name on a document to authorize its content or transfer.
Enjoin
To command or require; to order that something be stopped.
Equitable
To deal fairly and equally with all concerned. This term implies not only a fair or just determination on legal grounds, but also a judgment as would be guided by common sense notions of fairness and justice.
Equity
A system supplemental to the law.
Estoppel
An act or statement that precludes a person from later making claims to the contrary.
Et Al
The Latin phrase for "and others."
Et Ux
The Latin phrase for "and wife."
Evidence
Documents, testimony of parties or witnesses, or other objects of proof presented to the court.
Execute
To carry out all terms of a contract. To kill.
Exhibit
Any physical object introduced and identified in court and received by the judge as evidence in a case.
Exonerate
To clear from blame or to relieve from responsibility.
Exonerate Bail
Money or property returned by the court to the defendant or the bondsman.
Ex Parte
The Latin phrase for "from one side only": e.g., ex parte hearings at which only one side in a lawsuit appears and argues the case.
Expunge
To strike out or erase.
Extradition
The formal process of delivering a person apprehended in one state to the authorities of the state in which that person has been accused or convicted of a crime.

Back to Top Back to Top


- F -

Family Law
That type of court that generally hears matters related to dissolution of marriage, legal separation of the parties, nullity of marriage, child custody, and support matters, and domestic violence petitions.
Fee
A fixed monetary charge for service rendered.
Felony
A major criminal offense punishable by death or by imprisonment for more than one year in a state prison. (compare Infraction, Misdemeanor)
Fiduciary
A person who acts as a trustee or primarily for another person's benefit. As a descriptive word rather than a noun, fiduciary means something based on a trust or confidence.
File
To accept a document as an official record for preservation within the case file.
Filing Fees
Amount of money paid to the court to start a civil case.
Finding
A determination of fact by a judicial officer or jury.
Fine
A sum of money a person must pay as punishment because of an illegal act or omission.
Fix-it-Ticket
Colloquial term for a traffic citation issued due to a mechanical malfunction on a vehicle. The citation requires that the owner correct the fault and have the ticket signed by a law enforcement officer.
Forfeiture
The loss of money or property resulting from failure to meet a legal obligation.
Fraud
An intentional deception that financially injures another person(s) in any way.
Fugitive
A person who runs away or tries to escape.

Back to Top Back to Top


- G -

Garnishment
A notice warning a defendant that a third party has been instructed to apply the defendant's property or money to a debt owed to the plaintiff.
Guardian Ad Litem
A court-appointed adult who represents a minor, child, or incompetent person. (see Ad Litem)
Guilty
Found beyond a reasonable doubt to have committed a crime.
Guilty Plea
A formal admission to an offense charged in a criminal complaint, information, or indictment.

Back to Top Back to Top


- H -

Habeas Corpus
From the Latin: "You have the body"; the name of a writ used to bring a person before a court or a judge so that the court or judge may determine whether that person is being unlawfully denied his or her freedom.
Hearing
A formal court proceeding with all parties in a case present, but without a jury.
Hearsay
Testimony intended to be proof of the truth of a statement, arising not from personal knowledge or experience of the witness but from repetition of what the witness has heard others say; such testimony is generally not admitted into evidence.
Heir(ess)
A person who inherits or receives property from someone who has died.
Held to Answer
A finding at a preliminary examination in a municipal court that sufficient evidence exists on the charges made against the defendant to require a trial in superior court. (see Bind Over)
Holding Cell
A cell within a courthouse where prisoners are held in custody before and after their court appearance.
Home Detention
Use of an electronic device to monitor the whereabouts and restrict the activities of a sentenced party in lieu of having the party serve time in jail. (see Electronic Surveillance)
Homicide
The killing of one human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another (not necessarily a crime; see below). Excusable-Death resulting from a lawful act, when no hurt is intended; death resulting from an act of self defense. Felonious-Death resulting from any wrongful act, without any excuse or justification in law. (see Manslaughter, Murder) Justifiable-Death resulting from an intentional, but lawful act: e.g., the execution of a death sentence by an agent of the law (can also apply to self defense).
Honor Camp
A rehabilitation program, run under the direction of the probation department, that accepts people who are low risk or who are nonhabitual offenders.

Back to Top Back to Top


- I -

Illegal Parking
Violation of any parking regulation established by state statute or local ordinance.
Immunity
A right of exception from duty or penalty (generally from criminal prosecution) to encourage answers or evidence that might not otherwise be forthcoming. (see Privilege)
Impound
To seize and hold in the custody of the law; generally used in reference to objects or animals rather than people.
Inactive Case
A pending case that has been filed, but for some reason cannot be processed by the court.
In Camera
From the Latin: "In chamber"; a hearing held in judge's chambers or in a court with all spectators excluded.
Incarcerate
To confine to a jail.
Incriminate
To hold another or oneself responsible for criminal misconduct.
Indemnity
An obligation to provide compensation for a loss, hurt, or damage.
Indictment
A formal accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime. (compare Information)
Indigent
Generally, this term defines a person who is poor, needy, and who has no one to look to for support.
In Forma Pauperis
From the Latin: "In the way of a pauper"; the official waiver of court costs incurred due to the insolvency of a filer.
Information
A written accusation (document) charging a person with a crime that is presented by a prosecuting officer under oath of office, rather than one produced by a grand jury.
Infraction
A minor violation of the law, contract, or right that is not a misdemeanor or a felony and that cannot be punished by imprisonment. (compare Felony, Misdemeanor)
Injunction
A court order prohibiting a person from doing or continuing to do a specific act. (compare Enjoin, Restraining Order)
Innocent
Found to be not guilty of criminal charges; acquitted.
In Propria Persona
From the Latin: "In one's own proper person." A case heard in which a party represents himself or herself without benefit of an attorney; same as "in pro per".
Inquest
A legal inquiry, before a court of law and other officers legally empowered to hold inquiries, usually to determine the cause and circumstances of a death.
Instructions
The explanation of constitutional rights given by a judge to a defendant.
Instructions to Jury
Instructions given by a judge to a jury immediately before they decide a case, telling the jury what laws apply to that particular case. (see Admonition to Jury)
Interpleader
When two or more persons claim the same thing on a third party. The third party may compel them to go to trial with each other to arrive at a settlement.
Interpreter
A person who has been certified as having the ability to orally or in writing translate spoken or sign language to the common language of the court.
Interrogatories
A pretrial discovery tool in which a series of written questions are served on a party or a witness and require a written response. (see Discovery)
Intestate
To die without making a will or leaving instructions for disposal of property after death. (see Testate)
Inventory
Number of cases in various stages of the court process.
Issue
The matter in dispute between two or more persons.

Back to Top Back to Top


- J -

Jeopardy
Danger to the defendant of possible conviction and punishment. In a criminal proceeding, the defendant is usually said to be in "jeopardy" after the jury has been sworn in and the preliminary hearing has taken place.
Joinder
Generally, a coupling or joining together; e.g., plaintiffs joining in a suit or a joining of actions or defense.
Judge
An elected or appointed individual empowered by law to hear and determine disposition of a legal issue.
Judgment
The final decision of the judge stating which party has prevailed and the terms of the decision. (compare Disposition, Verdict) N.O.V.-The abbreviation for "notwithstanding the verdict." A ruling in favor of one party despite the fact that there had been a verdict for the other party. (compare Verdict) Summary-The court's decision prior to a trial directing that the action has no disputed facts and that one party is entitled to judgement as a matter of law. (compare Verdict)
Judgment Debtor
The person who has been ordered by the court to make a money payment as a result of a civil suit.
Judicial
Belonging to or appropriate to the office of a judge; relates to the administration of justice.
Judicial Council
The Judicial Council is made up of attorneys, judges, and legislators whose responsibility is the administration of the state's judicial system. The state judicial system was established to standardize court administration, practice, and procedure by adopting and enforcing rules.
Judicial District
The state is divided into precincts or districts which define the geographical area of a court's authority.
Judicial Positions
The judgeships, referees, and commissioners authorized for a particular jurisdiction.
Jurisdiction
The territory, subject matter, or persons over which lawful authority may be exercised by a court, as determined by constitution or statute.
Jury
A group of citizens selected according to law and impaneled to determine the issues of fact in a case. Grand-A body of citizens whose duties consist of determining whether probable cause exists that a crime has been committed and whether an indictment should be returned. (compare Petit Jury) Hung-A jury that is unable to agree on a verdict after a suitable period of deliberation. Petit-An ordinary jury for the trial of a criminal or civil action. (compare Grand Jury) Special-A jury ordered by the court, on the motion of either party, in cases of unusual importance or intricacy.
Jury Commissioner
The local official responsible for providing lists of qualified prospective jurors to the court.
Jury Roster
A list of all the potential jurors asked to appear before the court for selection; the list of jurors impaneled for a case.
Justice Court
A trial court of limited jurisdiction in a judicial district whose population is less than 40,000. Justice courts have original trial jurisdiction in criminal misdemeanor and infraction cases and preside over preliminary hearings in felony cases; they exercise small claims jurisdiction in cases involving no more than $5,000 and jurisdiction in civil cases involving $25,000 or less.
Juvenile
A person under the age of 18 years. (see Minor)
Juvenile Court
That part of the superior court that has jurisdiction over cases involving delinquency and dependency matters for minors.

Back to Top Back to Top


- K -

Keeper
An officer appointed by the court to negotiate custody of money or property legally seized in connection with a pending case.

Back to Top Back to Top


- L -

Lawsuit
A legal dispute brought to a court for a resolution. (see Action, Case)
Lawyer
A person qualified to represent clients in a court of law and to advise them on legal matters. (see Attorney, Counsel)
Letter of Instruction
A form that states the property to be seized.
Levy
To raise, collect, or seize by legal process.
Libel
False and malicious written, printed, or published material that is defamatory and injures the reputation of an individual. (compare Slander)
License Hold
The action taken to prevent a driver's license renewal pending settlement of a legal matter.
Lien
A claim by a party on the property of another for payment of a debt or obligation. It is not a right to the property itself, but rather stops the owner from doing anything with it. The lien may be enforced or collected by levying on the property. (see Levy)
Lis Pendens
From the Latin: "A pending suit"; jurisdiction of a court over property until final disposition.
Litigants
The parties involved in a lawsuit.
Litigate
To conduct or engage in a lawsuit.
Litigation
A lawsuit.

Back to Top Back to Top


- M -

Magistrate
A judicial officer having the power to issue arrest warrants. (compare Commissioner, Judge, Referee)
Maim
To cripple or mutilate in any way, to inflict upon a person any injury which deprives him of the use of any limb or member of his body; to seriously wound, disfigure, or disable. (see Mayhem)
Malfeasance
Performance of an act that should not have been done at all. (compare Misfeasance, Nonfeasance)
Mandatory
Required, ordered.
Manslaughter
The unlawful killing of a person without any deliberation. (compare Murder; see Homicide) Voluntary-The unlawful taking of human life under circumstances falling short of premeditated intent to kill. Involuntary-The unintentional taking of human life as a result of performing an unlawful act or in negligently performing a lawful act.
Marshal
A peace officer who has the power to arrest, to serve civil processes and subpoenas, and to act as bailiff in the courtroom.
Mayhem
Unlawfully and violently depriving a person of a member of his body, or disabling, disfiguring, or rendering it useless (includes injury to eyes, tongue, nose, ears, etc.)
Mediation
A process in which a neutral third party assists disputing parties in reaching a mutually acceptable settlement. The neutral third party attempts to clarify the dispute for the parties and provides suggestions for resolution. (Compare Arbitration, Early Neutral Evaluation)
Memorandum to Set
A document filed by one or more parties in a municipal court case indicating readiness for trial. (see At-issue Memorandum)
Minor
A person under the age of 18 years. (See Juvenile)
Minute Entry
An entry made by a clerk to record a procedure or ruling in the courtroom. Also, an entry to record documents in the clerk's office.
Minutes
The official (permanent) record of a court proceeding; e.g., what witnesses appeared, what motions were made, and what findings were reached. (see Transcripts)
Miranda Warning
Refers to a United States Supreme Court decision requiring that at the time of arrest and before questioning a person be advised of certain rights against self-incrimination.
Misdemeanor
A crime, other than a felony or an infraction, punishable by payment of a fine or by imprisonment not to exceed one year in the county jail. (see Felony, Infraction) Misdemeanors are generally categorized as follows: Group A-Includes nontraffic misdemeanor violations of the Penal Code and other state statutes, but excludes Fish and Game Code violations and intoxication complaints. Group B-Includes nontraffic misdemeanor violations of local city and county ordinances, Fish and Game Code violations, and intoxication complaints. Group C-Includes violations of Vehicle Code sections 20002 (hit and run, property damage), 23104 (reckless driving, causing injury), and 23152 (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs). Group D-Includes all traffic misdemeanor violations that are not included in the Group C misdemeanor group.
Misfeasance
Improper performance of an act that might have been lawfully done. (compare Malfeasance, Nonfeasance)
Mistrial
A trial that has been terminated and declared void due to prejudicial error in the proceedings or other extraordinary circumstances.
Modification
A change or alteration: e.g., modification of sentence (the terms of punishment for a defendant are changed) or modified probation order (a second probation order is issued changing the terms of the original order).
Money Judgment
A specific amount of money awarded to a person as payment for damages done.
Moot
A point or question open to debate, usually having no practical significance or relevance. A moot point is one not capable of being resolved by a judge; not disputed by either party, or one resolved out of court.
Motion
An oral or written request made by a party to the court for a ruling or an order on a particular point. A motion to reduce bail is a request to decrease the amount of bail needed to guarantee that the defendant will appear in court when required. A motion to release on own recognizance is the request to release a defendant, without bail, dependent upon agreement to appear when the court so orders. A motion to set is an application made to the judge to set a date for a future trial. A motion to quash is a request to make something null or ineffective, such as to quash a subpoena.
Municipal Court
This court is found in judicial districts having more than 40,000 people and is part of the lower court system. The following types of cases are heard in municipal courts: (1) civil suits for damages less than $25,000; (2) all nonjuvenile criminal misdemeanors carrying penalties of not more than one year in county jail or a fine of $2,500; and (3)preliminary hearings in felony cases. When a court decides there is sufficient evidence to hold a defendant, the accused is "bound over" to the superior court for further proceedings.
Murder
The unlawful killing of a human being by another with malice aforethought, either expressed or implied. (see Homicide; compare Manslaughter)

Back to Top Back to Top


- N -

Negligence
The failure of a person to use that degree of care in a given situation which by law one is obligated to use in order to protect the rights and property of others.
Nolo Contendere
Also known as simply "nolo". The Latin phrase meaning "I do not wish to contend". Synonymous with guilty. However, this plea of guilty holds true only for a criminal action and cannot be used as an admission of guilt in a civil suit for the same offense. Consent of the district attorney and approval of the court are required to plead nolo contendere.
Nonfeasance
Failure to perform an act for which one is legally responsible. (compare Malfeasance, Misfeasance)
Nonservice
Status in which a summons or warrant is issued but not served.
Notary Public
A person authorized under civil law to administer oaths, to attest and certify that certain documents are authentic, and to take depositions.
Notice
A written announcement or warning: (of Condition-Settlement) Notice to a court that removes a case from its control pending occurrence of the terms upon which settlement or dismissal of the case are conditioned. (of Motion) Notice to an opposing party that on a certain date a motion will be made in court. (of Noncompliance) Notice to a court that the terms of a conditional settlement have not been completed. Filing of this notice acts to restore the case to active status and to control of the court.
Nullity
The legal invalidation of a marriage; annulment. (Compare Dissolution)
Nunc Pro Tunc
From the Latin: "Now for then"; used when an order is issued on one date but is effective retroactively.

Back to Top Back to Top


- O -

Objection
A formal protest made by a party during testimony to record claimed inadmissibility of evidence or impropriety of a question being asked.
Offense
An act that violates the law. (see Crime, Public Offense)
Order
A directive of the court, on a matter relating to the main proceedings, that decides a preliminary point or directs some steps in the proceedings. Generally used in the following contexts: (Invalidating Prior Conviction) An order issued by the court following a hearing in which a prior conviction is found invalid because certain legal standards were not met during the time of trial and conviction. (Setting Fee) An order that directs a defendant to reimburse the county for costs incurred for a court-appointed attorney. (to Show Cause) An order to appear in court to give reasons why an action cannot, should not have been, or has not been carried out. (Suspension) An order that suspends a person's driving privilege, either at the request of the DMV or by order of a court.
Ordinance
A regulation established by a local government to enforce, control, or limit certain activities.
Own Recognizance
A condition under which an individual is released from custody upon his or her promise to answer to a criminal charge and is not required to post bail. Failure to return to court when required is a misdemeanor.

Back to Top Back to Top


- P -

Panel
The list of persons who have been summoned for jury duty and from whom a jury may be chosen.
Pardon
An act of grace by the chief executive of a state or county that releases a convicted person from punishment imposed by a previous court sentence.
Parole
A conditional release from imprisonment that entitles the person receiving it to serve the remainder of the sentence outside of the prison as long as all conditions of release are met.
Party
A person or group taking one side of a dispute: e.g., the plaintiff/prosecution and the defendant/defense.
Paternity Suit
A suit initiated to establish the paternity of a child born out of wedlock.
Penalty
Punishment for violating a law.
Penalty Assessment
A sum of money added to a fine to offset the costs of some mandated public programs.
Pendente Lite
From the Latin: "During the suit"; orders made during the actual progress of the lawsuit prior to final disposition.
Pending
The status of a case that has not yet been disposed of by the court. (See Active Status)
Peremptory Challenge
A challenge requiring no stated reason by either the defense attorney or the prosecuting attorney toward a potential juror that usually results in that person's disqualification from jury service. The number of peremptory challenges is prescribed by statute. (compare Challenge for Cause)
Personal Injury
A kind of civil case that includes actions for damages for physical injury to persons and property, and actions for wrongful death.
Petition
A formal written request presented to the court requesting specific judicial action. (compare Motion)
Petitioner
One who presents a petition to the court.
Plaintiff
A person or entity who initiates a civil action.
Plea
A formal statement of a defendant in response to a criminal accusation.
Plea Bargain
Negotiation between the prosecutor and the accused to exchange a guilty plea for conviction of a lesser charge, subject to approval by the court.
Pleading
A written statement in which one party responds to another's allegations to narrow the dispute to one or more specific points of difference.
Points and Authorities
Also referred to as "P's and A's". Points and authorities refers to the written legal argument given to support a request for a motion. It includes references to past cases, statutes, and other statements of law to give added emphasis to the legality of the motion being requested.
Polling of Jury
A practice in which jurors are asked individually whether they concur with the verdict as rendered.
Post
A Latin prefix meaning "after", as in "post-trial" matters. To "post" something is to bring it to the attention of the public, as in "to post a notice of sale".
Pre
A Latin prefix meaning "in front of" or before, as in pretrial hearing.
Preliminary
Introductory, preparatory, preceding, or leading up to the main matter of business: e.g., a preliminary injunction is one that precedes the issuance of a permanent injunction.
Preliminary Examination/Hearing
A proceeding before a judicial officer in which evidence is presented so that the court can determine whether there is sufficient cause to hold the accused for trial on a felony charge.
Pre-sentence Report
A report prepared by the probation department for the judge's reference when sentencing defendant. Describes defendant's background: financial; job and family status; community ties; criminal history; and facts of the instant offense. A pre-sentence report is required in felony cases, but may or may not be requested in misdemeanor cases.
Presiding Judge/Justice
In a court with multiple judicial positions, the judge who performs the basic administrative functions of managing the court's business.
Pretrial Conference/Hearing
Any appearance of both parties before the court at any time before trial; usually, a proceeding in which the defense and prosecuting attorneys appear to discuss the possibility of a pretrial settlement.
Prima Facie
From the Latin: "From first view"; not requiring further support to establish existence, credibility, or validity. (Case) A case sufficient on its face, being supported by the necessary minimum evidence and free from obvious defects. (Evidence) Evidence sufficient to support a certain conclusion unless contradictory evidence is given.
Prior
A term generally used to refer to a previous conviction.
Privilege
An advantage not enjoyed by all; a special exemption against prosecution or other lawsuits. (see Immunity)
Probable Cause
A reasonable basis for assuming that a charge or fact is well founded.
Probate
The judicial process in which an instrument purporting to be the will of a deceased person is proven to be genuine or not; lawful distribution of the decedent's estate.
Probation
The sentence given to a defendant when it is felt there is a good chance for rehabilitation without incarceration. In all felony cases, and at the judge's discretion in misdemeanor cases, a pre-sentence report is used by the judge to decide whether or not to impose probation. Court probation means probation without supervision. Formal probation may involve supervision of the defendant by a probation officer. Summary probation (misdemeanor cases only) - the process in which a judge sentences a defendant to probation without using a pre-sentence report, the defendant being responsible directly to the court.
Probation Report
(See Pre-sentence Report.)
Proceedings
Generally, the process of conducting judicial business before a court or other judicial officer. A proceeding refers to any one of the separate steps in that process: e.g., a motion.
Process
A course of proceedings in a lawsuit. A process is also a legal document which compels a defendant to answer a complaint field or accept a default judgment.
Process Server
A person employed to deliver a summons, subpoena, or complaint.
Promissory Note
A written document by which one person promises to pay money to another.
Pronouncement of Judgment
The formal issuance by the judge of a judgment in a case.
Proof
Quantity of evidence that tends to establish the existence of a fact at issue.
Proof of Service
The form filed with the court that proves the date on which documents were formally served on a party in a court action.
Pro Per
An abbreviated form of "in propria persona" (see in Propria Persona).
Prosecuting Attorney
A public officer whose duty is the prosecution of criminal proceedings on behalf of the citizenry; sometimes referred to as "district attorney".
Prosecution
Agency responsible for initiating proceedings in a criminal case by making affidavit charging a named person with the commission of a criminal offense. Takes charge of the case and performs function of trial lawyer for the People.
Pro Tempore
From the Latin: "For the time being" or "temporarily"; referee/commissioner sitting temporarily and provisionally for a judge; same as pro tem.
Proximate Cause
That which in natural and continuous sequence, unbroken by any independent cause, produces an event without which an injury would not have occurred.
Public Defender
Counsel employed by the public, primarily to defend indigent defendants.
Public Offense
A crime. Criminal proceedings can be instituted against a person whose conduct is sufficiently offensive to public safety, rights, or morals. Private or civil wrongs are acts that violate "private laws", e.g., a contract between two parties. The distinction between civil and criminal wrongs is that the law of public offenses focuses on the offender (and the resulting punishment) while the law of civil wrongs focuses on the injured person (and the resulting compensation). (see Crime)
Public Record
A court record available for inspection by the general public. (compare Confidential Record, Sealed Record)
Purge
To eliminate inactive records from court files.

Back to Top Back to Top


- Q -

Quash
To make void; to vacate: to annul; to set aside.
Quiet Title
An action in which the ownership of certain land is in dispute and submitted to the court for determination. To quiet title is to declare that a certain person is the rightful owner of the real property in dispute.

Back to Top Back to Top


- R -

Rap Sheet
A summary of a person's criminal history.
Rebuttal
Evidence presented at trial by one party intended to overcome evidence introduced by another party.
Recess
A brief adjournment ordered by the judge. (see Adjournment; compare Continuance)
Recidivist
Habitual criminal.
Record
The account maintained by the official court reporter of all proceedings at the trial.
Record on Appeal
A copy of the pleadings, exhibits, orders, or decrees filed in a case in a trial court, and a transcript of the testimony taken in the case.
Record Sealing
A request for an order by the court to "seal" the record of a misdemeanor conviction. In order to be eligible, the offense must have been committed before the defendant's eighteenth birthday and a release of penalties order must have been previously granted. The sealing order involves closing all conviction, charge, and arrest records or any other records related to the matter in question. Once the order is made to seal the record, the misdemeanor is deemed to have never happened in the eyes of the law.
Records Retention and Disposal Schedule
A system or plan covering all records kept by a court, which states what may be disposed of and when.
Recuse
To excuse (oneself) or be excused from a criminal or civil proceeding because of conflict of interest. For example: A Pro Tem judge may recuse himself from a small claims case because of personal or professional involvement with the party(ies).
Referee
A person appointed by the court to hear and make decisions on certain limited legal matters: e.g., juvenile or traffic.
Referral
Generally refers to an alternate disposition program: e.g., Children's Protection Services, Drug/Alcohol Rehabilitation.
Register of Actions
The official permanent court record of actions of civil cases, including small claims. May be kept electronically and/or in ledger form.
Reinstated Bail
Bail previously forfeited, exonerated, or reduced that is now reestablished in its original amount.
Remand
To return a prisoner to custody until proceedings are resumed or the matter is set for further action.
Remanding Order
An order to sheriff directing him to hold defendant in custody to date of next appearance in court pending posting of a set amount of bail.
Remittitur (of Record)
The transfer of the records of a case from a Court of Appeal to the original trial court for further action or other disposition as ordered by the appellate court.
Report and Sentence
The proceeding in a criminal case following conviction in which the judge reviews the probation report and imposes sentence.
Reporter
A court official responsible for recording the proceedings in trials, including the questions addressed to, and answers made by, witnesses.
Request for Admission
A method of discovery in which one party formally and in writing asks the opposing party to admit the truth of certain facts relevant to a case.
Reset
To re-calendar or set again.
Respondent
The person against whom an appeal is made; the responding party in a dissolution, nullity, adoption, or probate matter.
Restitution
The act of restoring or giving the equivalent for an injury, damage, or loss.
Restraining Order
A time-limited order that directs a person to stop doing something until a formal hearing is held to determine outcome. (see Injunction)
Revenue
Income to a public entity to offset the cost of providing service.
Revocation
The act of voiding or canceling something, usually probation or a driver's license.

Back to Top Back to Top


- S -

Sanction
To concur, confirm, or ratify. Also, a penalty or punishment to enforce obedience to the law.
Satisfaction
Payment of amount of judgment by the losing party.
Sealed Record
A record closed by a court to further inspection by anyone unless further ordered by the court. (compare Confidential Record, Public Record)
Self-Surrender
Voluntary surrender of a party to the police or to the court.
Sentence
The formal pronouncement by a court stating the punishment to be imposed on a person convicted of a criminal offense.
Sequester
To separate from, as in to sequester assets or to sequester witnesses during a trial.
Service of Process
The act of delivery of an order or summons to the intended person.
Settlement
An agreement reached among the parties that resolves the case at any time before court findings or a jury verdict.
Severance of Actions
To separate multiple criminal actions, defendants, causes of action, or cross-complaints for separate trials.
Sine Die
From the Latin: "Without a day"; without assigning a specific day for further hearing.
Slander
Oral defamation of a person's character or reputation through false or malicious statements. (compare Libel)
Small Claims Case
A minor civil case for monetary judgment.
Small Claims Court
The division of a municipal court that handles all civil cases claiming monetary awards of $5,000 (effective January 1, 1991) or less and certain unlawful detainer actions. In such cases, there are no attorneys, no rules of evidence, no juries, and no formal findings.
Spousal Support
Financial allowance from one spouse to the other ordered by the court during separation or after dissolution of marriage; alimony. (see Nullity)
Statement of Facts
Any written or oral declaration of facts in a case.
Statute
Any written law passed by a state or federal legislative body. (Limitations) The time limit in which a person/entity may initiate a suit against another on a specific cause of action. (Time Limit) A time frame set by law in which certain actions are required to occur unless waived by the plaintiff.
Stay Order
An order issued by a court halting court proceedings until a further event takes place.
Stipulation
An agreement between parties or their attorneys.
Strike
To delete or remove, as in to strike (a case) from the calendar.
Sua Sponte
From the Latin: "Of its own will." Commonly used when a judge does something without being so requested by either party in a case.
Subpoena
A writ issued by a court that compels a person to appear and give testimony as to a specified time and place. (Duces Tecum) A subpoena that, in addition to compelling the appearance of a witness, commands that specific documents be produced at the time of appearance.
Subrogate
To substitute one person in place of another with reference to a lawful claim.
Summons
A notice to a defendant that an action has been filed and that a judgment will be entered should the defendant fail to answer the complaint within the statutory time limit.
Superior Court
The trial court of general jurisdiction in each county of the State of California. This court hears all adoption, conciliation, family law, juvenile, and probate matters; has trial jurisdiction over all felony cases and all civil matters involving more than $25,000; and acts as an appellate court to review decisions of municipal courts.
Suppress
To stop or put an end to someone's activities. To suppress evidence is to withhold it from disclosure or publication.
Surety Bond
An insurance policy taken out by the defendant with a national insurance company in which the company agrees to pay the county the amount of bail required for the defendant's release should the defendant fail to make court appearances.
Surety Bond Register
A bound, dated volume made available to the public containing information about each surety bond deposited with the court. It is used by surety bond insurance companies and their bail bondsmen to check the status of their outstanding bonds. The company can discover from the register whether or not bonds have been forfeited or exonerated.
Suspend
To postpone, stay, or withhold certain conditions for a temporary period of time.

Back to Top Back to Top


- T -

Tenant
A person who rents property.
Terminal
In terms of computers, the point at which input into the computer is carried out or where the computer output is printed or exhibited on an electronic screen.
Testate
A person who has made a will or who has died leaving a valid will; opposite of intestate.
Testify
To give evidence as a witness under oath.
Third-party Action
Generally, an action taken by anyone who is not a party to a contract, agreement, or other transaction.
Third-party Claim
An interest or share in levied property.
Ticket
A citation.
Time Waiver
To relinquish the right to a specific amount of time in which a certain phase of the legal process would normally take place.
Title
The ownership or evidence of ownership of land or other property.
Tort
A private or civil wrong, independent of contract; failure to perform some duty imposed by law or custom, resulting in injury to another.
Tort-feasor
A person who commits or is guilty of a tort.
Transcript
An official, written, verbatim record of a judicial proceeding. (compare Minutes)
Transfer
A disposition in which a judicial order transfers a case from one court to another before a hearing or trial.
Trial
The hearing and determination of issues of fact and law, in accordance with prescribed legal procedures, in order to reach a disposition. (Bench) A court trial is one heard and decided by a judge. (Jury) A jury trial is one heard and decided by a jury, which usually consists of 12 people.
Trial Courts
Superior and municipal courts.
True Bill
The endorsement made by a grand jury when it finds sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal charge. (See Indictment)
True Finding
The juvenile court equivalent of a guilty verdict.
Trustee
The person who ha custody of or control over funds or items for the benefit of another.
Trust Fund
Money, stocks, bonds, or securities held by or under the control of someone for the use and benefit of another.
Trust Items
The specific things held in trust.

Back to Top Back to Top


- U -

Undertaking
A promise given in the course of legal proceedings by a party or his counsel, generally as a condition to obtaining some concession from the court or the opposite party.
Unlawful Detainer
A person detains or continues to hold some real property when it is no longer rightful. An unlawful detainer is also the title of a summary civil action in which a landlord seeks to evict a tenant who the landlord claims is no longer entitled to live on the premises.
Urine Test
Chemical analysis of a urine specimen to determine content of alcohol or some other drug.

Back to Top Back to Top


- V -

Venire
Latin meaning "to come," to appear before the court. More commonly used to describe the whole group of people called for jury duty from which the jurors are selected.
Venue
The geographical limits of a court's jurisdiction. Generally, the venue of a municipal court is a judicial district; the venue of a superior court is a county. (see Change of Venue)
Verdict
The final decision of a jury. (see Judgment N.O.V.; compare Summary Judgment) (General) A verdict given in a civil case in which the jury finds in favor of the plaintiff or in favor of the defendant. (Special/Directed) In a civil case, a verdict given by the judge after considering the law as it applies to the case and after the jury states its conclusions on specific factual issues.
Verification
An oral or written statement that something is true, usually sworn to under oath.
Violation
A breach of a right, duty, or law.
Voir Dire
From the French: "To speak the truth." (Examination) The questioning of potential jurors to determine whether each juror is competent, impartial and unprejudiced.

Back to Top Back to Top


- W -

Waiver
To give up a legal right voluntarily, intentionally, and with full knowledge of the consequences.
Waiver of Rights Form
A form signed by the defendant and the judge recording which, if any, legal rights are waived by the defendant.
Ward of the Court
A minor who is under the care and control of the court rather than the parent(s).
Warrant
A written order issued and signed by a judicial officer directing a peace officer to take specific action. (Arrest) Commands a peace officer to arrest and bring before the court the person accused of an offense for purpose of commencing legal action. (Bench) A written order issued by the court from the judge or bench commanding a person's arrest because of his or her failure to appear in court. (Recall) A procedure for removing from department of justice and state police computers information concerning canceled warrants in order to avoid mistaken arrests. (Search) An order issued by a judge, based on a finding of probable cause, directing law enforcement officers to conduct a search of specific premises for specific persons or things and to bring them before the court.
Will
The instrument by which a person declares his or her wishes as to the disposition of personal property after death.
Witness
A person who testifies as to what was seen, heard, or otherwise known.
Writ
A written order or directive issued by a court commanding that certain action be taken. (Attachment) Orders that specified property be attached. (Certiorari) Order by the appellate court granting or denying a review of judgment. (Execution) Orders the enforcement of a court judgment. (Habeas Corpus) Orders the release of someone who has been unlawfully imprisoned. (Mandamus) Orders the performance of any act designated by law to be part of a person's duty or status. (Mandate) Orders the performance of any act designated by law to be part of a person's duty to position or status. (Prohibition) The counterpart of writ of mandate, it orders that further proceedings or other official acts be stopped. (Usually from a superior to a lower court.)

Back to Top Back to Top


- X -

(empty)

Back to Top Back to Top


- Y -

(empty)

Back to Top Back to Top


- Z -

(empty)

Back to Top Back to Top


- # -

(empty)

Back to Top Back to Top