Home About Contact |
Icon-UpArrow Civil Rights Glossary


Common Legal Terms that You'll Likely Encounter in your Civil Rights Litigation

IDTermShort Definition
A01Abatementa pause (or a reduction) in a proceeding
A02Abeyancean incomplete state of affairs (compare with abatement)
A03Abrogateto cancel/repeal (usually in the context of legislation)
A04Abuse of Discretionto make arbitrary/unreasonable rulings; reversible on appeal
A05Abuse of Processcommitting a legal act with an ulterior motive (see frivolous)
A06Actiona judicial proceeding
A07Ad HocLat.: for this special purpose (connotes immediacy)
A08Adjudicationthe legal determination of a claim/case/controversy
A09Administrative Agencya governmental/regulatory body that oversees a set of laws
A10A Fortioriwith stronger reason (a second fact is supported by a conclusory fact)
A11Administrative Law Judgethe hearing officer who makes findings of fact regarding executive action
A12Admissible Evidenceinformation that a Court can use in its adjudication
A13Adverse Inferencewhatever you're hiding must be good/incriminating
A14Advocatesomeone who provides legal assistance to a party
A15Affiantthe author of an affidavit
A16Affidavita sworn written statement under oath
A17Affirmationa sworn acknowledgment of truth (subject to penalties of perjury)
A18Agentsomeone who represents another entity (consider with master-servant)
A19Allegationan assertion of fact that the issuing party intends to prove
A20Alt. Dispute Resolutionvarious ways to conclude a suit without trial (eg arbitration, mediation...)
A21Amendalter/update (eg amend a pleading)
A22Ancillary Jurisdictionauthority over an auxiliary claim even if that claim wasn't explicitly stated
A23Answerthe defendant's response to the plaintiff's complaint
A24Apparent Authoritypresumed authority (consider with principal)
A25Appeala request to a higher court to review the decision of a lower court
A26Appearanceshowing up in court to prosecute/defend an action
A27Appellantthe person who filed the appeal
A28Appellatea court that handles appeals
A29Appelleethe appellant's opponent
A30Arbiterthe person who conducts the arbitration hearing; needs court's confirmation
A31Arbitrationa method of alternative dispute resolution which does not require trial
A32Arbitratorthe person who conducts the arbitration hearing; decision is final
A33Attorney-Client Privilegeconfidentiality applied when someone consults with a lawyer (see privilege)
A34Attorney Generalthe top cop
A35Authoritythe power to govern over someone/something
A36Awardthe relief/remedy granted by an arbiter
IDTermShort Definition
B01Bad Faithunderhanded/dishonest/defiant conduct (see misconduct, perjury, sanction)
B02Barprohibit; preclude
B03Bequesta gift/grant/payment/reward
B04Benchsynonym for Judge (cf. the physical location where the judge sits [in a courtroom])]
B05Bindingobligatory (usually set by an appellate court opinion)
B06Bona Fide Occupational Qualification(BFOQ); characteristic of a job that requires discrimination
B07Briberygiving a public official money/gifts in order to influence an official act
B08Briefa legal pleading (usually in an appellate case)
B09Burden of Proofan aspect of adjudication that requires a party to produce evidence
IDTermShort Definition
C01Calumnyvilification/slander (usually found inside settlement agreements)
C02Casean action/cause/lawsuit
C03Cause of Actiona legal claim stemming from a specific event
C04Certiorari (Writ)a writ that a higher court uses to retrieve info from a lower one
C05Cfcompare (latin) (often used in appellate opinions)
C06Challengeto question/object
C07Chanceryequity (old english term)
C08Circuit Courta judicial court that is comprised of many smaller courts
C09Circumstantial Evidenceindirect information that can be used to infer the material facts
C10Claimfacts that give rise to a court's adjudication
C11Class Actiona lawsuit that consolidates many similarly-situated plaintiffs as one plaintiff
C12Clerkthe person who handles many of the court's clerical duties
C13Coercionforcing someone to do something against their free will
C14Cogentcompelling (usually in the context of a legal argument)
C15Cognizablewithin a court's jurisdiction
C16Collateral Attacka legal action that assails the final judgment of a prior case (eg, habeas corpus)
C17Collateral Estoppelissue preclusion; previously litigated matters cannot be re-litigated
C18Color of Lawofficial capacity or even proxy-official capacity
C19Comitydeferring to another jurisdiction
C20Commerce Clauseclause in Art I. §8 US granting Congress power to regulate interstate commerce
C21Common Lawadjudication based on precedent
C22Competent Substantial Evidenceevidence that is fact-based; open for cross examination; and satisfactory to a reasonable mind.
C23Complainantthe person who initiated legal action (context ≈ administrative agency)
C24Concealmenthiding/destroying material evidence (see spoilation)
C25Conciliationa method of alternative dispute resolution that doesn't require trial
C26Conditiona prerequisite needed to spark a subsequent legal action
C27Confrontation Clausea right for the accused to confront his/her accuser (see 6th Amendment)
C28Consentagreement; often a key element in legal cases
C29Consent Judgmentan agreement between two parties on final judgment (compare settlement)
C30Consolidated Appealjoining/litigating multiple related cases together (in one case)
C31Constitutionfundamental principles of law created by a government
C32Constructionthe way to interpret ambigious statutes
C33Constructive Knowledgea substitute for actual knowledge
C34Contemptdisrepecting or disobeying court orders
C35Contracta legal agreement
C36Contractora party to an agreement (compare independent contractor with servant)
C37Contumacycontemptuous; disrepecting or disobeying court orders
C38Counterclaima defendant's charges against a plaintiff
C39Courtpractical expression of the judicial branch of government
C40Counselattorney/lawyer; or - in a different context - to advocate
C41Court of Equitya court that deals with fairness
C42Court of Lawa court that deals with law
C43Court Reporterthe person who transcribes testimony
C44Cross-Claima defendant's charges against another defendant
C45Cross Examinationasking a witness questions [on the stand] after he/she testified
C46Curtilagethe immediate area surrounding a building
IDTermShort Definition
D01Damagesthe relief sought as a remedy to the alleged wrongdoing
D02Declaratory Judgmenta court order stating the rights a person has in a particular situation
D03Decreea judgment/determination in a court of equity (eg, divorce decree)
D04De Factobased on fact/practice/tradition (compare with de jure)
D05Defaultfailure to perform a duty
D06Default Judgmentjudgment against a Defendant for that Defendant's failure to answer the complaint
D07Defensedenial/answer/plea disputing the validity of the plaintiff's case
D08DeJurebased on law/rule (compare with de facto)
D09De Minimistrifling/small; not worthy of legal attention
D10Demurrebut a complaint by saying that it is legally insufficient
D11Demurrerformal demur
D12De Novoanew (start a subsequent proceeding as if the first one never happened)
D13Depositiona judicial interrogation of a witness (taken under oath)
D14Dictumadditional, non-binding reasoning in an opinion
D15Direct Evidenceinformation that is not open to interpretation of the material facts
D16Discoverythe process of recovering evidence pertinent to a case
D17Discretionfreedom to choose
D18Discriminationunequal treatment
D19Dismissalterminating a case; usually without adjudicating the merits of it
D20Dispositionclosing a case
D21Disqualificationremoval from a case due to impropriety (also see recusal)
D22District Courta federal court that has territorial jurisdiction
D23Diversity (Citizenship)the rule that says people of different states can litigate in federal court
D24Docketthe record of documents that are before the court
D25Documentinformation submitted to the court (writings/recordings/etc.)
D26Double Jeopardyprosecution/punishment twice for the same offense (also see res judicata)
D27Due Processlegal fairness (characterized by notice and an opportunity to be heard)
IDTermShort Definition
E01En Bancall of the judges (ie, entire bank of judges) - primarily for appellate decisions
E02Enjoinstop/prevent (see injunction)
E03Equal ProtectionFourteenth Amendment clause prohibiting discrimination in the legal system
E05Equitable Estoppelpreventing the harm caused when an authority misleads an individual
E07Erroneousmistakes/misgivings that were committed within one's authority
E08Establishment ClauseFirst Amendment language prohibiting religious legislation
E10Evidenceinformation pertinent to a case
E11Exceptionlegal objection to a ruling
E12Executive Branchthe branch of government that executes/enforces the law
E13Exhibitsinformation submitted as evidence
E14Exigent Circumstancessevere calamity that makes standard procedures more malleable
E15Ex Officioautomatic appointment to a committee/board due to the person's public office
E16Ex Parteone-sided communication with the Court/Judge
E17Expert Witnesssomeone who testifies about a matter he/she has skill/knowledge of
E18Expressformally disclosed in written/oral format
E19Expressio Unius...Lat.: if it's not expressly written in the statute then it was meant to be excluded
E20Ex Rel.lawsuit initiated by a private individual, but between the government and another individual
E21Extrinsic Fraudfake junk that will infringe upon due process rights to a fair trial
IDTermShort Definition
F01Fact Finderthe person who makes determinations of fact
F02Federal Courtthe court system that handles federal matters of law
F03Fed. Quest. Jurisdictionwhether the legal controversy is based on a federal law
F04Fed. Tort. Claims Acta legislated waiver of sovereign immunity (see 28 USC §1346)
F05Federalismtiered government; with lower tiers being more protective (cf. Supremacy Clause)
F06Filingsubmitting documents to the court
F07Findinga determination (usually part of a jury verdict)
F08First Impressiona case/controversy that no court has encountered until now
F09Fiscala consistent, self-defined 12-month period (used by legal entities for accounting)
F10Forma Pauperispoor person status; access to Court without prepayment of costs/fees
F11Forumthe area for which conduct occurs
F12Forum Non Conveniensa court that is not convenient for the witnesses and/or parties
F13Fraudfake/underhanded junk that is harmful
F14Free Exercise ClauseFirst Amendment language prohibiting government infringment on the right to worship
F15Frivolousa weak claim that cannot be litigated
F16Fundamental Rightcore tenet needed to secure liberty & justice
IDTermShort Definition
G01Good Causerational
G02Good Faithvirtuous, pure, (devoid of frivolity)
G03Grantapprove/allow (typically - in this civil rights context - an Order Granting a Motion)
G04Gravamenthe main point
IDTermShort Definition
H01Harminjury/loss that must be remedied
H02Harmless Erroran error that [probably] didn't impact the outcome of the case
H03Hearinga less formal trial
H04Hearsaythird-party utterances; admissible in DOAH but not in Court
H05HIPAAthe federal law that protects medical information from disclosure
H06Holdingbinding, authoritative part of a decision/opinion
IDTermShort Definition
I01Ida continuation of the cited text (abbreviation for latin word "idem")
I03Immunitya preclusion on liability
I04Impliedinferred from facts/circumstances (compare express)
I05Imputevicarious assignment (compare vicarious liability)
I06Indigentpoor person status; access to Court without prepayment of costs/fees
I07Inferencea preliminary conclusion based on facts/allegations (also see presumption)
I08Inferior Courtthe court whose decisions can be reviewed by an appellate court
I09Infralatin word for below; (antonym to supra)
I10Infringementbreach; obstruction; impairment; hampering (typically used when referring to violations of fundamental rights)
I11Injunctionpreventative remedy
I12In Haec Verbain these verbs (construction)
I13Injuryharm/loss that must be remedied
I14In Limineat the threshold/beginning (see motion in limine)
I15In Pari Materiasimilar stuff should be read together (latin for "on like subject matter")
I16In Rea legal action with only one party (latin for "in the matter of")
I18Interrogatorydiscovery tool that asks an entity questions under oath (usually in writing)
I19Interventionallowing an affected person/organization to enter a lawsuit
I20Intrinsic Fraudfake/underhanded junk that was used in an important ruling
I21Invidiousnasty/vile strain of discrimination
I22Irreparable Harmimminent injury that cannot be remedied with money (eg, wife will kill me)
I23Issuea disputed point/fact
IDTermShort Definition
J01Joinderuniting several causes of action or parties
J02Judgmentfinal decision on the facts and law of a case
J03Judicialpertaining to the application of law
J04Judicial Economyconservation of judicial resources/effort
J05Judicial Estoppelprevention of self-induced contradictions
J06Judicial Immunityprotection against liability for discretionary/jurisdictional acts performed on duty
J07Judicial Noticethe court's recognition of indisputable fact derived from irrefutable sources
J08Judicial Reviewappellate proceeding
J09Jurisdictionpower to adjudicate
J10Jurisdictional Amountthe monetary threshold to invoke jurisdiction
J11Jurisprudencethe science of law
J12Justiciablean issue that a court can remedy, because it meets certain criteria
IDTermShort Definition
K01Kangaroo Courta tribunal that is biased and flimsy with the law
IDTermShort Definition
L01Lachesa defense against stale claims (see tolling and statutes of limitation)
L02Law of the Casethe doctrine which holds that previously decided issues cannot be reopened
L03Lay Witnesssomeone who testifies about stuff he/she has observed
L05Legislationpertaining to the creation of law
L06Liquidated Damagesdamages that can be determined with certainty (synonym for sum certain)
L07Litigationthe practice of suing
IDTermShort Definition
M01Magistratea judge who supports another judge during the proceeding
M02Malfeasancemisconduct that breaches the public trust
M03Maliceharmful/tortious intent
M04Mandamuswrit directing a public official to complete his/her ministerial duty
M05Mandatea command
M06Manifest Injusticeplain error that infringes someone's rights and impairs a fair proceeding
M07Marshalpublic officer who performs federal court duties (similar to a state Sheriff)
M08Master-and-Servantthe relationship type between an employer and an employee (compare with agent)
M09Materialnecessary, meaningful, pertinent to the adjudication of a matter
M10Mediationa method of alternative dispute resolution which does not result in a decision
M11Memorandumless formal brief
M12Meritthe facts & elements for a cause
M13Mesnemiddle; as in mesne process (see Rule 1.160 Fla. R. Civ. P.)
M14Ministerial Actmandatory act that a public official must complete
M15Minutesa written/recorded summary of a meeting (see 28-102.002 FAC)
M16Miscarriage of Justicea court's error that impugns a fair proceeding
M17Misconductcorrupt behavior by a public officer
M18Mistrialcrucial error that requires a new trial
M19Mootan issue/claim that is no longer active
M20Motionrequest to the court
M21Motion in Liminerequest to exclude prejudicial evidence
IDTermShort Definition
N01Negative Pregnantslick talk that doesn't address the overarching fact
N02Notary Publica person who verifies a person's oath/attestation
N03Noticelegal affirmation of knowledge of an important legal matter
IDTermShort Definition
O01Oatha sworn statement taken under the penalty of perjury
O02Obiter Dictaadditional, non-binding statements made in a court opinion
O03Objectionthe primary form of legal opposition
O04Officera person who has authority in a public domain
O05Omissionto fail to do something (for which you have a duty to complete)
O06Opinionthe Court's explanation of its final decision
O07Ordera court ruling
O08Original Jurisdictionauthority to consider and decide a case in the first instance
O09Overruleto deny an objection; to void a previous judgment
IDTermShort Definition
P01Panela group conferring on a decision (eg, panel of commissioners, jury panel, etc.)
P02Partyindividuals/organizations directly involved in a legal dispute
P03Paupera poor person (see indigent)
P04Pecuniarytangible (refers to losses/damages)
P05Pendent Jurisdictionfederal court's authority to adjudicate state law claims on a federal case
P06Per Curiamby the court (typically connotes an automatic appellate decision) (see IOP 5.4 (1DCA))
P07Per Diemper day (usually for calculating witness expenses, etc.)
P09Perjurylying under oath
P10Petitiona civil complaint/request
P11Petitionersynonymous with appellant, but signifies a different kind of action
P12Plain Erroran easy-to-see error that impairs a fair trial
P13Plaintiff in Errorappellant (old-fashioned word)
P14Pleadingsbriefs/documents/motions that form the pillars of a legal dispute
P15Precedentpreviously decided case that acts as authority for disposing of future cases
P17Prep. of Evidencethe standard for adjudication that is loosely based on a 50-50 proposition
P18Presumptiona preliminary conclusion based on facts/allegations (also see inference)
P19Pretrial Conferencea formal meeting to discuss the case
P20Prima Facieat face value; indicating a party's claims merit consideration
P21Principalthe person who acts as the company (also see agent)
P22Privilegea legal sanctuary that prevents disclosure of sacred information
P23Privileged Communicationsthe communications that are most commonly protected by legal forums
P24Privysurrogate; proxy; (useful term in evaluating res judicata)
P25Pro Bonofree legal representation
P26Proceedingthe succession of events in a legal action
P27Process Servicedelivery of writs and orders to notify an entity of legal matters
P28Prolixityextraneous information in a pleading (see Rule 8 Fed. R. Civ. P.)
P29Pro Perone's own self
P30Pro Seself-represented litigant
P31Prosecutionthe act of suing someone/something
P32Protective Ordera request that a party/non-party be shielded from discovery
P33Public Officialan elected/appointed person holding a public office
IDTermShort Definition
Q01Quashthe annullment of a discovery request
Q02Questions of Lawlegal contentions that do not require a findings of fact (see Standard of Review)
Q03Quid Pro Quotransactional/harassing terms & conditions (I scratch your back, you scratch mine)
Q04Qui Tamtaking legal action on behalf of - and alongside (sometimes) - the government
Q05Quoruma panel of decision-makers
Q06Quo Warrantoan extraordinary writ that asks 'with what authority?'
IDTermShort Definition
R01Ratificationconfirmation/establishment (typically of a new legal doctrine/act/law)
R02Rational Basisreasonable grounds for a government rule (compare with strict scrutiny)
R03Rebuttal Evidenceinformation that contradicts an opponent's claim
R04Recordthe docket and all material submitted to the tribunal/court
R05Recusalthe removal of a judge from a case
R06Redressremedy/relief/solution to a legal woe
R07Rehearingto re-try the issues
R08Relation Backa legal operation permitting a recent event to be treated like a past event
R09Relatorthe private individual who initiated the ex rel proceeding
R10Releaseto forfeit a claim/issue (usually within the context of a settlement)
R11Reliefthe solution to the immediate problem (also see remedy)
R12Remandto send back (ie, an appellate court tells a lower court to correct something)
R13Remedythe cure for the alleged wrongdoing
R14Removaltransferring a case from one court to another
R15Renderissuing the final decision/verdict
R16Replya response to a response/answer (usually requires leave of court)
R17Reportsgrouped decisions published for the public's consumption
R18Representativesomeone who acts for another person in a special capacity
R19Requests for Admissiondiscovery tool that asks a party to admit information
R22Res Judicataclaim preclusion; once a cause has been litigated it can't be re-litigated
R23Respondeat Superiorthe parent company/agency (ie, where the buck stops)
R24Respondentthe petitioner's opponent
R25Reviewto reexamine a case/action (usually by an appellate court)
R26Ripenessmaturation of facts that will permit adjudication
R27Ruleguidance on conduct
IDTermShort Definition
S01Sanctionpunish (in other contexts: reward)
S02Scienterguilty conscience
S03Seala stamp that authenticates a legal document
S04Sealing Recordsremoving court records from the public's eye
S05Separate but Equallongheld legal tradition commanding racial segregation
S06Sequestrationquarantine/separate case participants (eg, witnesses, jurors) to prevent tampering
S07Servantthe person who takes the employee role (see independent contractor)
S08Set Asideto nullify (to render void)
S09Settlementamicable resolution of matters
S10Shallmandatory; must. The term denotes a ministerial duty
S11Sham Pleadingan answer/complaint that is wholly false
S12Show Causedemonstrate (typically in response to a Court Order)
S13Sovereignthe governing body that has dominion over a case
S14Sovereign Immunitythe government's protection against lawsuits (see 11th Amendment (US))
S15Spoilationhiding/destruction of material evidence (see concealment)
S16Standinga legal/legitimate right to sue/complaint
S17Stare Decisisprecedent
S18Statementan assertion (typically, one which the party intends to prove)
S18Statutea law
S19Statute of Limitationsthe time period in which claims must be made (or be forever barred)
S20Statutory Lawthe statutes created by the legislature
S21Stayto halt proceedings until further notice
S22Strict Constructionusing the literal meanings of statutes and laws
S23Strict Liabilityliability without fault (compare vicarious liability)
S24Strict Scrutinytaking a close look at a rule/statute that will impact fundamental rights
S25Sua Sponteon the court's own volition (a spontaneous act by the court)
S26Subject Matterthe topic for which the claims arise
S27Subpoenawrit commanding someone to appear in court, produce information; or do both.
S28Sui Jurisreaching emancipation/independence
S29Sum Certaindamages that can be calculated accurately (synonym for "liquidated damages")
S30Summary Judgmentfinal decision on the case that precludes the need for a trial/hearing
S31Summonsa writ commanding a defendant to answer to a complaint
S32Suppression of Evidenceblocking information from being used in a litigation
S33Supralatin word for above; (antonym of infra)
S34Supremacy ClauseArt. VI §2 US Constitution (the federal government rules over states)
S35Supreme Courtthe highest court of the land; the court of final review
S36Sustainto approve the request (ie, to approve an objection)
IDTermShort Definition
T01Testimonyoral information submitted under oath
T02Tollextend the time to perform an act (see Statute of Limitations)
T03Torta wrong - in the eyes of society (eg. a judge committing perjury)
T04Tortfeasorone who wrongs another (within the confines of society's expectations)
T05Transcriptwritten record (verbatim) of an official proceeding
T06Traversea pleading that denies the allegations (eg, an answer/response)
T07Trial Courtthe court that adjudicates the facts and laws of a case
T08Tribunalthe governing body that has original jurisdiction
IDTermShort Definition
U01Ultra Viresexcess of authority
U02Unclean Handsactively causing the problem that you took legal action on
U03Unconstitutionalan act that does not conform with the constitution
IDTermShort Definition
V01Vacateto nullify [a prior order]
V02Varianceproofs at trial that are different from charges at indictment
V03Venirethe manner in which a jury is summoned
V04Venuethe place where the issues can be adjudicated
V05Verdictthe final decision handed down by the finder of fact
V06Vexatious Litigationexcessive/frivolous litigation
V07Vicarious Liabilitybeing held accountable for a subordinate's actions (see master-&-servant)
V08Voidinvalid; worthless
V09Voir Direprocess of evaluating prospective jurors
IDTermShort Definition
W01Waiversurrendering a right/requirement
W02Wantonreckless disregard
W03Warrantan order from a judge that permits search/seizure (see 4th Amendment)
W04Weight of the Evidencehow important the information is
W05Willfulintentional; connoted with desire to inflict damage (also see wanton)
W06Witnesssomeone who supplies testimonies and/or affidavits
W07Writa legal order compelling someone to act
W08Writ of Prohibitiona legal order directing an officer/governing body to refrain from acting
Congratulations! You're getting booked up on TBD's Civil Rights Glossary!

Feel free to use it in order to get the justice you deserve.


add a comment
IconQuiz IconLike
Icon-Email-WBIcon-Email-WG Icon-Youtube-WBIcon-Youtube-WG Icon-Share-WBIcon-Share-WG
Pages You Might Also Like