Homicide: Any killing of a human being by another human being. Homicide does not necessarily constitute a crime; to be a crime, homicide must be an unlawful killing (i.e., murder).
Injunction: A judge's order that a person do, or more commonly, refrain from doing, a certain act. The court's power to issue an injunction is based on equity.
Instruction: Directions by a judge to the jury, informing them of the law that they are to apply to the facts of the case in order to reach a verdict.
Judgment: The final decision of the court in a case, resolving the dispute and determining the rights and obligations of the parties involved.
Jurisdiction: The power of a court to make legally binding decisions over certain persons or property; the geographical area in which a court's decisions or legislature's enactments are binding.
Liability: The condition of being responsible for damages resulting from an injurious act, for discharging an obligation or debt, or for paying a penalty for wrongdoing.
Misdemeanor: Class of criminal offenses less serious than felonies & punished with less severity.
Misfeasance: The doing of a wrongful or injurious act.
Motion: A formal request made to a judge pertaining to any issue arising during a lawsuit.
Murder: The unlawful killing of a human being. Modern law distinguishes between several degrees of murder. First degree murder is a deliberate and premeditated homicide; second degree murder is a homicide committed with malice but without premeditation.
Negligence: The failure to exercise due care for the safety and welfare of others; failure to exercise that degree of care which, under the circumstances, a reasonable person would take.
Nonfeasance: The non-performance of an act that one has a duty to perform; also the neglect of a duty; or, simply, the failure to act so as to prevent harm.
Opinion: A statement of reasons why a certain decision or judgment was reached in a case. A majority opinion is usually written by one judge and represents the principles of law that a majority of the court regard as central to the holding in the case. A concurring opinion agrees with the ultimate judgment of the majority but disagrees with the reasons leading to the majority's conclusion. A plurality opinion is agreed to by less than a majority so far as the reasoning of their opinion is concerned but is agreed to by a majority as stating the correct result.
Overrule: To overturn or invalidate the holding of a prior case. A decision can be overruled only by the same court or by a higher court within the same jurisdiction.
Petition: Formal, written application to a court requesting judicial action on a particular matter.
Plaintiff: The person who brings a lawsuit or cause of action against another.
Plea: In the law of procedure, an answer or response to a complaint or allegation of fact; in criminal procedure, the response of the defendant in answer to the charges made against him or her.
Precedent: The doctrine of Anglo-American law whereby once a court has formulated a principle of law as applied to a given set of facts, it will follow that principle and apply it in future cases where the facts are substantially similar.
Prima Facie Case: A case that, at first glance or (literally) "on its face," is supported by enough evidence to entitle a party to have the case go to a jury.
Probation: A procedure whereby a defendant found guilty of a crime is released into society subject to conditions laid down by the court and under supervision of a probation officer.
Prepared: February 4, 2003 - 5:02:29 PM
Edited and Updated, February 5, 2003
Philosphy of Law