GLOSSARY OF LEGAL TERMS
AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE: In a pleading, matter asserted by defendant which, assuming the complaint to be true, constitutes a defense to it. A response to a plaintiff's claim which attacks the plaintiff's legal right to bring an action, as opposed to attacking the truth of the claim.(i.e. accord and satisfaction, assumption of risk, contributory negligence, duress, statute of limitations, estoppel, etc.)
ANSWER: The response of a defendant to the plaintiff's
complaint, denying in part or in whole the allegations made by the plaintiff.
APPEAL: Resort to a higher (i.e. appellate) court to review the decision of a lower (i.e. trial) court or administrative agency.
ARBITRATION: A process of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (arbitrator) renders a decision after a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.
COMPLAINT: The original or initial pleading by which an action is commenced under codes or Rules of Civil Procedure. (i.e. original claim, counterclaim, cross-claim, or third-party claim).
DEFAULT: By its derivation, a failure. An omission of that which ought to be done.
DEFAULT-JUDGMENT: Judgment entered against a party who has failed to defend against a claim that has been brought by another party. Under Rules of Civil Procedure, when a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead (i.e. answer) or otherwise defend, he is in default and a judgment by default may be entered by either the clerk or the court.
DEMAND: The assertion of a legal right; a legal obligation asserted in the courts.
DE NOVO TRIAL: Trying a matter anew: the same as if it has not been heard before and as if no decision had been previously rendered.
DEPOSITION: The testimony of a witness taken upon oral question or written interrogatories, not in open court, but in pursuance of a commission to take testimony issued by a court, or under a general law or court rule on the subject, and reduced to writing and duly authenticated, and intended to be used in preparation and upon the trial of a civil action or criminal prosecution.
DISCOVERY: The pre-trial devices that can be used by one party to obtain facts and information about the case from the other party in order to assist the party's preparation for trial.
ENFORCEMENT OF JUDGMENTS: The execution or carrying out of a judgment.
INTERROGATORIES: A set or series of written questions drawn up for the purpose of being propounded to a party, witness, or other person having information of interest in the case. A pretrial discovery device consisting of written questions about the case submitted by one party to the other party or witness. The answers to the interrogatories are usually given under oath, i.e. the person answering the questions signs a sworn statement that the answers are true.
MEDIATION: Neutral third person who helps disputing parties to reach agreement through the mediation process.
MOTION: An application made to a court or judge for purpose of obtaining a rule or order directing some act to be done in favor of the applicant.
MOTION IN LIMINE: Any motion, whether used before or during trial, by which exclusion is sought of anticipated prejudicial evidence.
ORDER: A mandate; precept; command or direction authoritatively given; rule or regulation.
PLAINTIFF: A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action and is so named on the record.
PLEADINGS: The formal allegations by the parties to a lawsuit of their respective claims and defenses, with the intended purpose being to provide notice of what is to be expected at trial.
RESPONDENT: In equity practice, the party who makes an answer to a bill or other proceeding in equity. In appellate practice, the party who contends against an appeal.
RESPONSIVE PLEADINGS: A pleading which joins issue and replies to a prior pleading of an opponent in contrast to a dilatory plea or motion which seeks to dismiss on some ground other than the merits of the action.
SERVICE: The exhibition or delivery of a writ, summons, and complaint, notice order etc., by an authorized person to a person who is thereby officially notified of some action or proceeding in which he is concerned, and is thereby advised or warned of some action or step which he is commanded to take or forbear.
SUMMONS: Instrument used to commence a civil action or special proceeding and is a means of acquiring jurisdiction over a party.