Legal Jargons

Jargon Booth

Affidavit : a document containing information the person swears to be true. Usually sworn to in the presence of a Notary Public
Appeal : when a party to a court case asks a higher court to review a judge s decision from a lower court.
Appellant : the person who appeals the decision of a court.
Appellee : the other party to an appeal who has not requested the review of the court’s decision.
Arbitration : a proceeding where parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party and agree to abide by his/her decision. Similar to court case since each party can present evidence, but not as formal, and heard by an arbitrator and not a judge
Bail : Also called Bond. Money or property given to the court for the temporary release of a defendant, to ensure that the defendant will return to court
Bench : term used to refer to judges or the court – example: “Please approach the bench” refers to approaching the judge.
Civil Case : any case that does not involve criminal charges
Complaint : the first document filed by the Plaintiff that begins a court case.
Contempt of Court : A finding that someone disobeyed a court order. Can also mean disrupting court, for example, by being loud or disrespectful in court
Conviction : To be found guilty of committing a crime
Custody : the possession of an item or child. Legal custody means that the possession has been granted by the courts; physical custody refers to the actual physical location of the item or child.
Decision : the determination of a case by the judge of the court.
– an order entered by the court that sets forth the judge’s decision.
Defendant : the person being sued or the person the case is against.
Domicile : The permanent home of a person. A person may have several residences, but only one domicile.
Estoppel : An impediment that prevents a person from asserting or doing something contrary to his own previous assertion or act
Execute : To complete; to sign; to carry out according to its terms
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.
Ex Parte Proceeding : Actions taken by or orders made by a court upon the application or petition of one party without notice or hearing to other interested parties.
Grounds : reasons for bringing a case into the judicial system.
Hearing : a time scheduled when the judge gives the parties an opportunity to present evidence and testimony in support of their claims.
Injunction : A court order to stop doing or to start doing a specific act.
Motion : the request made by either side to the court requesting the court to rule or take action on their behalf.
Order : the decision of the judge that is put in writing and filed in the court case. The order often requires action and if not complied with, can result in contempt charges.
Plaintiff : the person who begins a case in court.
Petition : A formal written request to a court, which starts a special proceeding. In juvenile court, the legal document which specifies the complaint against the juvenile and/or family; it includes the name, age and address of the minor and his/her guardian, as well as the statutory grounds and facts upon which the request for the court intervention is based.
Party : a person or company involved in a lawsuit – can be either side of a case.
Res Judicata : an issue that has been decided by the court; an adjudicated claim
Rule or Ruling : the decision made by a judge