Coming to terms with legal terms
Several months ago, I wrote a blog entry about legal terms. It’s an important topic because lawyers often use words unfamiliar to the general public, and we sometimes use common words in an uncommon way.
Whenever you deal with lawyers and the legal system, good communication is essential. That’s why I have prepared this list of legal terms often used in court cases.
This is a continuation of the list I started in July, and I will add more later. Remember – if your lawyer ever says something you don’t understand, you should immediately ask him or her to define the exact meaning of words and terms.
Damages: The monetary award which is given to a party by a court when he or she has suffered a legal wrong.
Deposition: The testimony of a witness in response to questions asked by the opposing lawyer, taken outside of trial but still under oath. This sworn testimony is taken down by a court reporter who then transcribes it and provides it to the lawyers for a fee.
Discovery: One party’s legal request in a case for information or facts known by the other party or a witness.
Dismissal: A judge’s order ending the case.
Dismissal Without Prejudice: A judge’s order ending the case without prohibiting the plaintiff from bringing the case again.
Eviction: A procedure in which a tenant is forced out of rental property.
Ex Parte: Action or discussion which is taken without notice to, or the presence of, one of the parties to a case.
Guardian Ad Litem: A lawyer appointed to represent the best interests of a minor child or an incompetent adult.
Hearsay: Out of court statements made by someone and testified to by a witness. Hearsay is generally not permitted in a trial.
Indigent: A person who cannot afford to pay court fees that are required by law.
Interrogatory: Written questions submitted by a party to a case in an effort to obtain information from another party.
Jurisdiction: The authority of a court to hear a case and enter a judgment.
Litigant: A party to a legal case.