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1. the duty of a party to substantiate an allegation or issue,
either to avoid dismissal of that issue early in the trial or to convince the court of the truth of that
claim and hence to prevail in a civil or criminal suit.
EXAMPLE: Jean files a lawsuit claiming that Don fraudulently induced her to buy a vacuum cleaner. Don replies that he has never met Jean and that he has never sold vacuum cleaners in Jean's section of town. Jean has a burden of proof to show facts that Don sold her a vacuum cleaner and did so by fraudulent means.
2. the duty of a plaintiff, at the beginning of a trial, to make a prima facie showing of each fact necessary to establish the existence of a cause of action; referred to as the DUTY OF PRODUCING EVIDENCE (also BURDEN OF EVIDENCE or PRODUCTION BURDEN).
3. the obligation to plead each element of a cause of action or AFFIRMATIVE DEFENSE (see defense) or suffer a dismissal; referred to as the PLEADING BURDEN. Source: Barron's Dictionary of Legal Terms, Steven H. Gifis, 5th Edition; © 2016