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LEGAL TERMS

A Quo - A Latin phrases which signifies from which;


Acquittal
- The legal and formal certification of the
innocence of a person who has been charged with a
crime; a verdict of not guilty.
Act of State- an act done by the sovereign power of a
country, or by its delegate, within the limits of the
power vested in him. It cannot be questioned or made
the subject of legal proceedings in a court of law. It is
not subject to judicial review.
Action In Personam - A proceeding in personam is a
proceeding to enforce personal rights and obligations
brought against a person and is based on the jurisdiction
of the person, although it may involve his right to, or
the exercise of ownership of, specific property, or seek
to compel him to control or dispose of it in accordance
with the mandate of the court.
- action against a person on the basis of his
personal liability.
Action In Rem - an action against the thing itself,
instead of against the person.
Actionable- Giving sufficient legal grounds for a
lawsuit; giving rise to a Cause of Action.
An act, event, or occurrence is said to be actionable
when there are legal grounds for basing a lawsuit on it.
For example, an assault is an actionable TORT.
Actual Case or Controversy- Actual controversy
means a true legal dispute which leads to a genuine
lawsuit not merely a hypothetical, theoretical, or
speculative legal issue.
Ad Litem -[Latin, For the suit; for the purposes of the
suit; pending the suit.]
Adjudicate- verb adjudge, arbitrate, award,
award judgment, conclude, decide, decree,
deem, deliver judgment, determine, determine
finally, exercise judicial authority, find, give
judgment, hear, hear the case, hold court,
judge, make a decision, mediate, order, pass
judgment, pass sentence, pronounce, referee,
render judgment, rule, rule upon, settle, sit in
judgment, try, try the cause
Admission-A voluntary Acknowledgment made by
a party to a lawsuit or in a criminal prosecution that
certain facts that are inconsistent with the party's
claims in the controversy are true.
Adverse party -N. the opposite side in a lawsuit.
Sometimes when there are numerous parties and crosscomplaints, parties may be adverse to each other on
some issues and in agreement on other matters. Two
beneficiaries of a person who has died may join
together to claim a will was valid, but fight each other
over the assets of the dead person's estate if the court
rules the will was legal.

Affidavit- A written statement of facts voluntarily made


by an affiant under an oath or affirmation administered
by a person authorized to do so by law.
Affidavit of Desistance- An affidavit of desistance is
executed by a complainant when he no longer wishes to
pursue a case against an accused or a defendant in a
court case.
Affirmative Defense - when it alleges new matters
which, while hypothetically admitting the allegations of
the pleading of the claimant, would nevertheless
prevent or bar recovery by the claiming party.
Alias Writ- A second writ, or court order, issued in the
same case after an earlier writ of that kind has been
issued but has not been effective.
Allegata And Probata- The allegations made by a
party to a suit, and the proof adduced in their support. It
is a general rule of evidence that the allegata and
probata must correspond; that is, the proof must at least
be sufficiently extensive to cover all the allegations of
the party.
Alternative Dispute Resolution-refers to any process
or procedure used to resolve a dispute or controversy,
other than by adjudication of a presiding judge of a
court or an officer of a government agency.
- a neutral third party participates to assist in the
resolution of issued, which includes arbitration,
mediation, conciliation, early neutral evaluation, minitrial, or any combination thereof.
Amicus Curiae- Literally, friend of the court;
Experienced and impartial attorneys
Answer - a pleading in which a defending party sets
forth his defenses.
Appeal - remedy to obtain reversal or modification of
judgment on the merits.
Appellant - A person who initiates an appeal
Appellee - the person against whom the appeal is
brought
Appeal by Certiorari - or petition for review on
certiorari. An appeal from a judgment or final order of a
lower court where only questions of law are raised or
are involved.
Appearance- A coming into court by a party to a suit,
either in person or through an attorney, whether as
plaintiff or defendant. The formal proceeding by which
a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court. The
voluntary submission to a court's jurisdiction.
Arraignment- A criminal proceeding at which the
defendant is officially called before a court of
competent jurisdiction, informed of the offense charged
in the complaint, information, indictment, or other
charging document, and asked to enter a plea of guilty,
not guilty, or as otherwise permitted by law. Depending
on the jurisdiction, arraignment may also be the
proceeding at which the court determines whether to set
bail for the defendant or release the defendant on his or
her own recognizance.

Assignment of Errors- A statement by the appellant of


the errors alleged to have been committed in the lower
court is an assignment of errors, a type of appellate
Pleading used to point out to the appellate court the
grounds for review. It controls the scope of an appeal
because if a ground for review is not contained in it, it
will not ordinarily be considered by the court. The
assignment of errors is usually part of the notice of
appeal, the bill of exceptions, the transcript of the
record, or the brief, although in some jurisdictions, it is
a separate document.
Attachment- The legal process of seizing property to
ensure satisfaction of a judgment.
Best Evidence Rule - That highest available degree of
proof must be produced; that which the law regard as
affording greatest certainty of the fact in question.
Burden Of Evidence - The burden on a party seeking
to support a claim or defense at trial to produce
sufficient evidence at trial to have the issue merit
consideration by the fact-finder.
Burden Of Proof - burden of proof is the duty of a
party to present evidence on the facts in issue necessary
to establish his claim or defense by the amount of
evidence required by law.
Capacity To Act- the power to do acts with legal effect.
It can be acquired and lost only through death.
Case At Bar- the case now before the court and under
its consideration; the case being tried or argued.
Case At Bench- A case under the immediate
consideration of the court. Also termed case at bar;
instant case; present case.
Chose In Action - personal right not reduced into
possession, but recoverable by a suit at law; The right
to bring an action to recover a debt, money. or thing;
Personal property that one person owns but another
person possesses, the owner being able to regain
possession through a lawsuit; is a known legal
expression used to describe all personal rights of
property which can only be claimed or enforced by
action, and not by taking physical possession.
Circumstantial Evidence - Evidence based on
inference and not on personal knowledge or
observation. - Also termed indirect evidence; oblique
evidence; All evidence that is not given by eyewitness
testimony.
Civil Action- One by which a party sues another for the
enforcement or protection of a right, or the prevention
or redress of a wrong.
Civil Contempt- The failure to obey a court order that
was issued for another party's benefit; A civil contempt
is not an offense against the dignity of the court, but
against the party in whose behalf the mandate of the
court was issued, and a fine is imposed for his
indemnity; A civil-contempt proceeding is coercive or
remedial in nature. The usual sanction is to confine the
contemnor until he or she complies with the court order.

Civil Liability- the amenability to civil action as


distinguished from amenability to criminal prosecution.
Civil Obligation- One which binds in law and may be
enforced in a court of justice.
Class Suit- when the subject matter of the controversy
is one of common or general interest to many person so
numerous that it is impracticable to join all as parties, a
number of them which the court finds to be sufficiently
numerous and representative as to fully protect the
interests of all concerned may sue or defend for the
benefit of all.
Clean Hands Doctrine- Equitable relief may be denied
on ground of deceit or impurity of motive.
Complaint- the pleading alleging the plaintiffs cause
or cause of action. The names and residences of the
plaintiff and defendant must be stated in the complaint.
- a sworn written statement charging a person with an
offense, subscribed by the offended party, any peace
officer, or other public officer charged with the
enforcement of the law violated.
Conclusive Presumption- a presumption of law that
cannot be rebutted by evidence and must be taken to be
the case whatever the evidence to the contrary.
- whenever a party has, by his own declaration, act, or
omission, intentionally and deliberately led another to
believe a particular thing is true, and to act upon such
belief, he cannot, in any litigation arising out such
declaration, act or omission, be permitted to falsify it.
- the tenant is not permitted to deny the title of his
landlord at the time of the commencement of the
relation of landlord and tenant between them.
Confession And Avoidance- the plea admitting that
facts alleged in a declaration are true, but showing new
facts by which it is hoped to destroy the effect of the
allegations admitted; A plea, or answer, to a complaint
in a civil case, in which the defendant admits the
allegations in the lawsuit but alleges other facts that, if
found to be true by the trier of fact, will negate the
negative effect of the plaintiff's claims.
Consent Judgment- a judgment issued by a judge
based on an agreement between the parties to a lawsuit
to settle the matter, aimed at ending the litigation with
a judgment that is enforceable; It is similar to and
sometimes referred to as an antitrust decree, stipulated
judgment, settlement agreements or consent decree.
Thus, it is judgment settled and agreed to by the parties
to the action.
Contempt Of Court- often referred to simply as
"contempt" the offense of being disobedient to or
disrespectful towards a court of law and its officers in
the form of behavior that opposes or defies authority,
justice, and dignity of the court; Behavior that opposes
or defies the authority, justice, and dignity of the court;
Contempt charges may be brought against parties to
proceedings; lawyers or other court officers or
personnel; jurors; witnesses; or people who insert

themselves in a case, such as protesters outside a


courtroom.
Costs Of Suits- the party that finally prevails is entitled
to the costs of suit as a matter of course, unless the
court for special reasons adjudged otherwise.
Court-Annexed Mediation- any mediation process
conducted under the auspices of the court, after such
court has acquired jurisdiction of the dispute.
Court-Referred Mediation- mediation ordered by a
court to be conducted in accordance with the
Agreement of the Parties when as action is prematurely
commenced in violation of such agreement.
Criminal Action - one by which the State prosecutes a
person for an act or omission punishable by law.
Criminal Contempt- a crime which consists in the
obstruction of judicial duty generally resulting in an act
done in the presence of the court
Criminal Liability- the liability that arises out of
breaking a law or committing a criminal act
responsibility for any illegal behavior that causes harm
or damage to someone or something.
Culpa Aquilana - refers to acts or omission causes
damage to another, there is being fault or negligence, is
obliged to pay for the damages done. Such fault or
negligence shall have no pre-existing contractual
relation between the Parties.
Culpa Contractual - refers to those who in the
performance of their obligations are guilty of fraud,
negligence or delay.
Custodia Legis - in the custody of law.
Decision - commonly synonymous to judgment; the
final ruling by a court of competent jurisdiction
regarding the rights or other matters submitted to it in
an action or proceeding; official and final consideration
and determination of the respective rights and
obligations of the parties.
Declaratory Relief - a judge's determination (called a
"declaratory judgment") of the parties' rights under a
contract or a statute often requested (prayed) for
information in a lawsuit over a contract. The theory is
that an early resolution of legal rights will resolve some
or all of the other issues in the matter.
- any person in interested under a deed, will, contract or
other written instrument, whose rights are affected by a
statute, executive order or regulation, ordinance, or any
other governmental regulation may before breach or
violation thereof, bring an action in the appropriate
Regional Trial Court to determine any question of
construction or validity arising, and for a declaration of
his right or duties, thereunder.
Default - if the defending party fails to answer within
the time allowed therefor, the court shall, upon motion
of the claiming party with notice to the defending party,
and proof of such failure, declare the defending party in
default. Thereupon, the court shall proceed to render

judgment granting the claimant such relief as his


pleading may warrant, unless the court in its discretion
requires the claimant to submit evidence.
The Disposition or Dispositive Portion - or fallo. It is
the part of the judgment that actually settles and
declares the rights and obligations of the parties, finally,
definitively, and authoritatively notwithstanding the
existence of inconsistent statements in the body that
may tend to confuse.
Disputable Presumption- A presumption of law, which
may be rebutted or disproved; satisfactory if not
contradicted.
Dissent - An explicit disagreement by one or more
judges with the decision of the majority on a case
before them; A dissent is often accompanied by a
written dissenting opinion, and the terms dissent and
dissenting opinion are used interchangeably
Early Neutral Evaluation- is an alternative dispute
resolution process wherein parties and their lawyers are
brought together early in a pre-trial phase to present
summaries of their cases and receive a nonbinding
assessment by an experienced, neutral person, with
expertise in the subject in the substance of the dispute.
Entry of Judgment - refers to the physical act
performed by the clerk of court in entering the
dispositive portion of the judgment in the book of
entries of judgment after the same has become final and
executory.
Ex
Parte
[Latin, On one side only.] Done by, for, or on t
he application of one party alone.
An ex parte judicial proceeding is conducted f
or the benefit of only one party. Ex parte may
also describe contact with a person represe
ntedby an attorney, outside the presence of t
he attorney. The term ex parte is used in a ca
se name to signify that the suit was brought
by the person whose name follows the term.
Excess Of Jurisdiction- A case in which court has
initially proceeded properly within its jurisdiction but
steps out of jurisdiction in making of some order or in
the doing of some judicial act; Acts which exceed
defined power of court in any instance; A departure by
a court from those recognized and established
requirements of law, however close apparent adherence
to mere form in method of procedure, which has the
effect of depriving one of a constitutional right, is an
"excess of jurisdiction."
Exhaustion Of Administrative Remedies.The
doctrine is that, where an administrative remedy is
provided by statute, relief must be sought from
administrative body and such remedy exhausted before
courts will act.
Fallo. - In Spanish law. The final decree or judgment
given in a controversy at law. Dispositive portion of the

decision. It states whether the complaint or petition is


granted or denied, the specific relief granted and the
costs.
Final Decision. - One which leaves nothing open to
further dispute and which sets at rest cause of action
between parties. Refers to a judgment that disposes of a
case in a manner that leaves nothing more to be done by
the court in a respect thereto. Has the effect of ending
the litigation, and an aggrieved party may then appeal
from the judgment.
Final Judgment - one that finally disposes of a case,
leaving nothing more to be done by the Court.
Forum Shopping - consists of filing multiple suits
involving the same parties for the same parties for the
same cause of action, either simultaneously or
successively, for the purpose of obtaining favorable
judgment.
Hearsay- Hearsay is information gathered by one
person from another person concerning some event,
condition, or thing of which the first person had no
direct experience nor can it be adequately substantiated.
Hierarchy of Courts - an ordained sequence of
recourse to courts vested with concurrent jurisdiction,
beginning from the lowest, on to the next highest, and
ultimately to the highest. A higher court will not
entertain direct resort to it unless the redress cannot be
obtained in the appropriate courts.
Impleaded. - Sued or prosecuted; used particularly in
the titles of causes where there are several defendants;
In Pari Materia. - Upon the same matter or subject.
Statutes in pari materia are to be construed together.
In Re. - In the affair; in the matter of; concerning; re.
This is the usual method of entitling a judicial
proceeding in which there are not adversary parties, but
merely some res concerning which judicial action is to
be taken, such as a bankrupt's estate, an estate in the
probate court,a proposed public highway, etc. It is also
sometimes used as a designation of a proceeding where
one party makes an application on his own behalf, but
such proceedings are more usually entitled "Ex parte ."
Indirect Contempt - it is not committed in the
presence of the court, but done at a distance which
tends to belittle, degrade, obstruct or embarrass the
court and justice.
Intervenor - a person who has legal interest in the
matter in litigation, or in the success of either of the
parties, or an interest again both, or is so situated as to
be adversely affected by a distribution or other
disposition of property in the custody of the court or of
an officer thereof may, with leave of court , be allowed
to intervene in the action.
Ipso Facto. - By the fact itself; by the mere fact. By the
mere effect of an act or a fact.
Ipso Jure. - By the law itself; by the mere operation of
law.35

Joinder Of Actions. The assertion of as many causes of


action as a party may have against another in one
pleading alone; the process of uniting two or more
demands or rights of action in one action
Judgment - final ruling by a court of competent
jurisdiction regarding the rights or other matters
submitted to it an action or proceeding; the courts
official and final consideration and determination of the
respective rights and obligations of the parties.
Judgment on the merits - when it amounts to legal
declaration of the respective rights and duties of the
parties, based upon the disclosed facts.
Judgment on the Pleadings - when an answer is
served and filed but the same fails to tender an issue or
admits the material allegations of the adverse party; an
answer fails to tender an issue when the material
allegations of the other party are admitted or not
specifically denied by the pleader.