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135 Cards in this Set

  • Front
  • Back
A political system in which government powers are divided between a central government and regional and/or state governments.
constitutional court
A type of federal court created by Congress under its power under Article III of the Constitution to create courts inferior to the Supreme Court.
Legislative courts
A type of federal court created by Congress under one of its legislative powers; for example, military and territorial courts.
The power and authority of courts to render a binding decision in a case.
diversity of citizenship suits
A specific type of federal lawsuit between citizens of two different states in which the amount in controversy exceeds $75,000.
A group of appellate judges, less than the full membership of the court, assigned to review a case on appeal.
en banc
A situation in which all of the members of an appellate court participate in the disposition of a case.
small claims courts
A lower-level state court whose jurisdiction is limited to a specified dollar amount' for example, the damages may not exceed $1,500.
courts of record
A court in which a record of the proceeding is kept, usually in the form of transcript made by a court reporter.
court of general jurisdiction
Trial court responsible for major criminal and civil cases.
appellate court
A court that hears appeals on points of law from trial courts.
court of last resort
At the state level, the highest court with jurisdiciton over a particular case. At the national leve, the U.S. Supreme Court.
senatorial courtesy
The custom in the U.S. Sentate that requires the president to clear judicial appointments with the senators of the state wherein the appointment occurs when the senators are of the president's party.
Missouri Plan
The name given to a method of judicial selection that combines merit selection and popular control in retention elections.
legislative address
A method of judicial removal used in some states that allows the state legislature to remove a state judge, usually by a two-thirds vote.
A method used in some states to remove judges from office. .......... elections allow the voters directly to remove judges from the bench.
judicial conduct board / commission
An official body whose function is to investigate allegations of misconduct made against judges.
A motion by the defendant asking for dismissal of a case on the grounds that the plaintiff has insufficient grounds to proceed.
The process whereby a neutral third person intervenes in a controversy to assist the parties in achieving a resolution.
The submission of an argument to a neutral party for resolution under an agreement by the parties to be bound by the decision or under a court order.
trial de novo
Literally, a trial "from the beginning." Cases appealed from courts that have no transcript and reheard in their entirety "from the beginning."
The person or party who initiates a lawsuit.
The person against whom a lawsuit is brought.
contingency fee
The normal fee arrangement in a civil suit in which the attorney receives a percentage of any award won by the plantiff.
In civil law, a legal document in which the plantiff makes certain allegations of injury and liability against the defendant. In criminal law, the written accusation of a criminal act against a defendant.
general damages
Damages, such as payment of medical bills, awarded to the plaintiff the monetary damages sought, less than what was sought, or more than what was sought.
punative damages
Money beyond actual damages awarded agaisnt a defendant whose conduct was so wanton, reckless, or reprehensible as to justify additional punishment.
The process of formally delivering the complaint or a subponea to the defendant or a witness in a lawsuit.
A court order directing the defendant to appear in court at a specified time and place, either in person or by filling a written answer the plaintiff's complaint.
The defendant's response to allegations made by the plantiff in the latter's complaint.
default judgment
A judgement awarded to the plaintiff because the defendant has failed to answer the compaint.
A pretrial procedure in which parties to a lawsuit ask for and recieve information such as testimony, records, or other evidence from each other.
A form of discovery that involves taking the sworn testimony of a witness outside open court.
A person called to the stand to give testimony in a trial.
One of the principals, either the plaintiff or the defendant, in a lawsuit.
A form of discovery in which written questions about a lawsuit are submitted to one party by the other party
subponea ducestecum
An order from a court directing a person to appear before the court with sepcified documents that the court deems relevant in a matter pending before it.
summary judgment
Decision by a judge to rule in favor of one party because the opposing party failed to meet a standard of proof. For example, if a plantiff fails to present a prima facie case, the judge may enter favor of the defendant.
prima facie case
The plaintiff's version of the facts, which if taken at first glance or "first face," seems to substantiate the plaintiff's allegations against the defendant.
bench trial
A trial conducted without a jury in which the judge serves as the trier of fact.
trier of fact responsible for hearing and viewing the evidence at trial and evaluating the veractiy of it. .......... may either be the judge or a jury.
A group of citizens from which members of the jury are chosen.
A person called for jury duty
challenge for cause
A method of striking a potential juror because of specified reasons such as bias or prejudgment.
peremptory challenge
A method used to strike a potential juror from the jury without damage to it.
voir dire
Literally, "to speak truth." The process by which prospective jurors are questioned by attorneys to ascertain if there is cause to strike them from jury.
After jurors are sworn in , the jury is said to be ......and the defendant is placed in "jeopardy."
opening statement
Address made by attorneys for both parties at the beginning of a trial in which they outline for the jury what they intend to prove in their case.
preponderance of the evidence
In civil law, the standard of proof required to prevail at trial. To win, a plaintiff must show that the greater weight, or preponderance of the evidence, supports his or her version of the facts.
direct examination
At trial, the questions asked of a witness by the attorney who called the witness to the stand.
At trial, the questions of one attorney put to a witness called by the opposing attorney.
redirect (examination)
The follow-up questions asked of his or her own witness by the attorney who originally called the witness to the stand.
the questions asked of a witness after direct examination, cross-examination, and direct examination. essentially, a second series of questions asked of a witness called by the opposing attorney.
leading questions
A question by which an attorney attempts to put words into the mouth of a witness, that is, a question that states the information to which the attorney wishes the witness to testify.
contributory negligence
A legal theory that totally bars the plaintiff who contributed, even slightly, to his or her own injury from recovering damages.
comparative negligence
A theory that allocates negligence between the plaintiff and the defendantand that allows the plaintiff to recover even if he or she contributed to his or her own injury.
closing statements
The address made by an attorney at the end of the presentation of evidence in which the attorney summarizes the case for the jury.
directed verdict
An order from a judge to the jury ordering the latter to decide the case in favor of one of the parties for failure of the other party to prove its case.
charge to the jury
The instructions given to the jury by the jduge in which the judge outlines what the jury must find in order to rule for the plaintiff and what they must find to rule for the defendant.
general verdict
A verdict in which the jury finds the defendant liable and awards the plaintiff the monetary damages sought, less than what was sought, or more than what was sought.
special issues verdict
A verdict in which the jury answers a series of questions rather than merely entering a general finding.
reversible error
An error made at trial serious enough to warrant a new trial.
harmless error
An error made during a trial that an appellate court feels is insufficient grounds for reversing a judgement.
The process by which a jury verdict of money damages is reduced because the amount is excessive.
The party, usually the losing one, that seeks to overturn the decision of a trial court by appealing to a higher court.
The party, usually the winning one, against whom a case is appealed.
The process of formally delivering the complaint or a subpoena to the defendant or a witness in a lawsuit.
personal service
A notice to a party of pending litigation, or providing a copy of a subpoena to a witness, that is personally delivered.
A legal document in which an attorney outlines the facts, alleged errors, and precedents in a case appealed to a higher court.
principal brief
A brief filed by appellant that includes the issues and legal arugments to be appealed.
reply brief
The brief filed by the appellee that attempts to rebut the appellant's grounds for the appeal.
oral argument
The part of the appellate court decision-making process in which lawyers for both parties plead their cases in person before the court.
writ of certiorari
An order from a higher court to a lower court in which the former orders the latter to send up the record of case for review by the higher court.
rule of four
The requirement that four Supreme Court justices must agree to hear a case before the Court will grant a writ of certiorari
A method of appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court by which the lower court formally identifies questions of law for decision.
majority opinion
The opinion of a majority of appellate court judges in which the decision of the court and its reasons for that decision are given.
dissenting opinion
A written opinion of an appellate court judge in which the judge states his or her reasons for disagreeing with the decision of the majority.
concurring opinion
An opinion by an appellate court judge in which the judge agrees with the decision of the majority, but not for the same reasons given in the majority opinion.
plurality opinion
A written opinion that reflects the views of the justices who heard the case as to the outcome but not to the ratio decidendi.
writ of execution
A court order allowing a law enforcement official to seize the property or assets of a defendant against whom a civil judgment has been rendered.
Process whereby money owed to one person as a result of a court judgment may be withheld from the wages of another person known as the garnishee.
complaining witness
In criminal law, the person, often the victim, who swears out a complaint against another, leading to an arrest warrant being issued aigainst the latter.
arrest warrant
A court order that allows the police to take a person accused of a crime into custody.
initial appearance
During the.........., the accused is informed of the charges against him or her, given his or her constitutional rights, informed of the amount of bail, and given a date for a preliminary hearing.
preliminary hearing
Either a pretrial hearing at which motions are considered or, in criminal law, a pretrial hearing to determine if there is probable cause to hold the accused for an indictment.
Something of value, either money or property, posted by a criminal defendant to ensure the defendant's appearance in court.
A term used to describe the releasing of an accused person from custody without requiring a property or money bond.
probable cause
Standard used to determine if a crime has been committed and if there is sufficient evidence to believe a specific individual committed it.
bound over
If, at the preliminary hearing, the judge believes that sufficient probable cause exists to hold a criminal defendant, the accused is said to be..........for trial.
A formal accusation of a criminal offense made against a person handed down by a grand jury.
grand jury
A group of citizens who decide if persons accused of crimes should be indicted (true billed ) or not (no billed)
true bill
A bill of indictment by a grand jury.
no bill
A term used to describe the decision of a grand jury not to indict a person for a crime.
A formal accusation charging someone with the commission of a crime, signed by a prosecuting attorney, that has the effect of bringing the person to trial.
The stage of the criminal justice process in which the defendant is formally informed of the charges and allowed to enter a plea.
plea bargain
An arrangement whereby the accused agrees to exchange a plea of guilty for a lesser sentence, a reduction of charges, or some other consideration by the court.
nolo contendere
Literally, "I will not contest it." A plea, tantamount to a guilty plea, in which the accused refuses to admit culpability but accepts the punishment of the court.
The point in the criminal justice process where the accused is in danger of criminal liability. Once in.........., the accused must eithere be acquitted or convicted and may not be placed again in..........
hung jury
A jury that is unable to reach a verdict. Especially significant in criminal trials if a unanimous verdict is required.
A jury is..........when its members are isolated from the community until it has reached a final verdict.
habeas corpus
Literally, "you have the body." In criminal law, a judicial writ orderinga law enforcement official to bring a person before the court and show cuase as to why the person is being detained.
direct evidence
Evidence derived from one or more of the five senses.
circumstantial evidence
An indirect method of proving the material facts of the case. Testimony that is not based on the witness's personal observation of the material events.
tangible evidence
Any evidence that the trier of fact may touch or observe in the courtroom
judicial notice
A method of providing trial evidence that allows the court to accept facts that are commonly known or verifiable without formal proof.
oral testimony
A form of evidence that is given by the witness on the stand in open court or in a depositon under oath.
An order from a court directing a person to appear before the court and to give testimony about a cause of action pending before it.
adverse witnesses
Also called a hostile witness, one who provides prejudiical information against the party conducting the examination.
preliminary questions that establish the relevancy and admissibility of evidence. Also known as "laying a predicate."
laying a predicate
Preliminary question that establish the relevancy and admissibility of evidence. Also known as "laying a foundation."
motion in limine
A motion that bars prejudicial questions and statements on specified topics.
An out-of-court assertion or statement, made by someone other than the testifying witness, that is being offered to prove the truth of the matter stated.x
In evidence, a recognized right to keep certain communications confidential or private.
shield laws
A law that allows a newspaper or other reporter to refuse to disclose the source of his or her information in a criminal case.
exclusionary rule
A judicially created rule that holds that evidence obtained through violations of the constutional rights of the criminal dfendant must be excluded from the trial.
judicial gatekeeping
Term used to describe how judges control access to teh judicial system by either opening or closing the judicial "gates" to certain kinds of controversies.
The doctrine requiring that a party bringing suit before a court must have a legal right to do so.
taxpayer's suits
A suit brought by a person who claims standing on the basis of his or her status as a taxpayer.
A term used to describe a case that has become a dead issue becasue the controversy that gave rise to the case was resolved before a final judicial decision could be made.
The doctrine that an appellate court will not review the decision of a lower court until all remedies have been exhausted. Courts will not decide an issue before the need to do so.
political question
The doctrine that courts will not decide cases that involve issues for which a final decision is clearly left to one of the political branches of govenrment by the Constitution.
in rem jurisdiction
Judicial jurisdiction of a court to enter a decree affecting property interests.
in personum jurisdiction
Judicial jurisdiction of a court to enter a personal judgement or decree against the person.
long-arm statutes
A legislative enactment that extends a court's jurisdiction to non-resident parties as long as there are "minimum contacts" between the litigant and the state, which is a requirement of due process.
substituted service
A notice of pending litigation or other legal matters that is not personally delivered to the person; for example, publication of such a notice in the newpaper.
Quasi-in-rem jurisdiction
The power and authority of courts to enter a judgment affecting property interests to satisf the owner's personal obligations even though the owner is not otherwise subject to the court's jurisdiciton.
The geographic location of a trial, which is determined by constitutional or statutory provisions.
forum non conveniens
A legal doctrine that allows a court to refuse to accept jurisdiciton over a case.
statutes of limitation
Statutes that prescribe the time periods in which lawsuits must be filed.
choice-of-law questions
In conflict of laws, determining which state law will be applied when some or all of the operative elements occurred in a jurisdiction other than the forum state.
A legal theory applicable where there is a chocie-of-law question and the forum state adopts the entire law of the sister state.
A person's legal home.
In conflict of laws, a willingness to accept judgements of foreign courts as a matter of courtesy or respect.
obiter dictum
Also known as dicta' statements in a judicial opinion that were not essential to the resolution of the case and are not binding precedent.
ratio decidendi
those statements in a judicial opinion that are essential to the resolution of the case and are binding precedent.