Glossary of Terms



ABSTRACT - A synopsis or summary of facts. Abbreviated, accurate, and authentic history of a proceeding

ACQUIT- To find a defendant not guilty in a criminal trial.

ACQUITTAL - A judicial finding of a person's innocence; a deliverance or setting free of a person from a charge of guilty.

ACQUITTED - Released; absolved; purged of an accusation; judicially discharged from accusation; released from debt, etc. Includes both civil and criminal prosecutions.

AD HOC - For this, for this special purpose. An attorney ad hoc, or a guardian or curator ad hoc, is one appointed for a special purpose, generally to represent the client or infant in the particular action in which the appointment is made.

ADJOURN - To postpone action of a convened court or body until another time. This time can be specified ("to a date certain") or indefinite.

AD PROSEQUENDAM - To prosecute.

AD TESTIFICANDUM -To testify. Type of writ of habeas corpus used to bring prisoner to court to testify

ADJUDICATION - A judgment or decree.

AFFIANT - A person who signs an affidavit; usually used to refer to the victim in a criminal case.

AFFIDAVIT - A written or printed declaration or statement under oath.

AFFIRM - The ruling of an appellate court that the judgment of a lower is correct and should stand.

ALIAS (AKA) - An indication that a person has been called by one or the other of two or more names;
"a/k/a," an abbreviation for the phrase "also known as," i.e., John Jones, a/k/a Joe Brown. John Jones, also known as Joe Brown.

APPEAL - Review of a case by a higher court.

APPEARANCE BOND - Bond required to insure presence of defendant in criminal case

APPELLANT - Party appealing a decision or judgment to a higher court.

APPELLEE - The party against whom an appeal is filed.

ARBITRATION - The hearing and settlement of a dispute between opposing parties by a third party whose decision the parties have agreed to accept.

ARRAIGNMENT - A court hearing in a criminal case where a defendant is advised of the charges and asked to plead guilty or not guilty. Most arraignments in Tennessee are held in General Sessions Court.

AT LARGE - A term used when a criminal warrant is outstanding on an individual and he or she has not yet been served. EXAMPLE: When a defendant has been indicted but is not yet in custody, he is said to be still "at large".



BAIL BOND- An agreement by a third party to pay a certain sum of money if the defendant fails to appear in court.

BENCH TRIAL- Trial held before judge sitting without a jury; jury waived trial.

BENCH WARRANT- Process issued by the court or "from the bench" for the attachment or arrest of a person.

BINDING OVER (bind over) - the act by which a court or magistrate requires a person to enter into a recognizance or furnish bail to appeal for trial, to keep the peace, to attend as a witness, etc. Also describes act of lower court in transferring case to higher court or to grand jury after a finding of probable cause to believe that defendant committed crime.

BOND - Usually refers to a signed instrument whereby the signer promises to pay a certain amount of money if he does, or fails to do, some particular act. EXAMPLE: See APPEARANCE BOND.

BONDSMAN - A surety; one who has entered into a bond as surety; e.g. bail bondsman.

BRIEF - A legal document, prepared by an attorney, which presents the law and facts supporting his or her client.



CALENDAR - A list of cases instituted in a court and now ready for trial. It is sometimes called the "docket" or "trial list."

CAPIAS - A writ or order by the court directing an officer to take into custody the person named in the writ or order.

CAPITAL PUNISHMENT - Punish by death.

CASELOAD - The number of cases a judge handles.

CERTIFIED COPY - A copy of a document or legal paper on which the person who holds the original has signed and stated that this copy is true, correct, and exact.

CERTIORARI - A procedure for removing a case from a lower court to a higher court for review.

CHANGE OF VENUE - Moving a case from one court, or location, to another.

CIVIL LAW - All law that is not criminal law.

CLASS - There are five classifications of felonies and three classification f misdemeanors. With the exception of murder in the first degree, all felonies in the Revised Criminal Code, in the old Title 39 and in titles other than Title 39 are classified. Each felony has an A, B, C, D, or E classification. "A" is the most serious and "E" is the least serious. Each misdemeanor has either an A, B, or C classification with "A" being most serious and "C" being least serious. Murder in the first degree carries three possible penalties: life (with the possibility of parole), life without parole, and death.

CODE - A collection of laws promulgated by legislative authority.

COMMON LAW - A system of jurisprudence based on precedent rather than statutory laws.

COMMUTATION - Change of punishment from a greater to a lesser degree or ending a sentence that has been partially served.

CONVICTION - The results of a criminal proceeding which is a judgment of the judge or jury that the accused
is guilty of an offense. Often used to differentiate between one convicted of an offense or where one enters a
plea of guilty on an offense charged.

CORPUS DELICTI - The body or material substance upon which crime has been committed; e.g., the corpse of a murdered person or the charred remains of a burned house.

CORAM NOBIS - In our presence; before us. The office of "writ of coram nobis" is to bring attention of court to, and obtain relief from errors of fact, such as a valid defense existing in facts of case, but which, without negligence on defendant's part, was not made, either through duress or fraud or excusable mistake, where facts did not appear on face of record, and were such as, if known in season, would have prevented rendition of the judgment questioned. The essence of coram nobis is that it is addressed to the very court which renders the judgment in which injustice is alleged to have been done, in contrast to appeals or review
directed to another court; the words "coram nobis", meaning "our court," as compared to the common-law writ of coram vobis," meaning "your court," clearly point this up.

CRIMINAL - That which pertains to or is connected with the laws of crimes, the administration of penal justice, or which relates to or has the character of crime. One who has committed a criminal offense and has been found guilty and legally convicted of a crime.

CUSTODY - The care or keeping of anything or person. The detaining of an individual against his or her will by lawful means and under authority of law.



DE NOVO - "Anew." A trial de novo is a completely new trial.

DECLARATORY JUDGMENT - A judgment declaring the rights of the parties on a question of law.

DECREE - Decision or order of the court. A final decree completes the suit; an interlocutory decree is provisional or preliminary.

DEFAULT JUDGMENT - 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 either by the clerk or the court.

DEFENDANT - A person charged with a crime or a person against whom a civil action is brought.

DEPENDENT AND NEGLECTED CHILD - A child (1) who is without proper guardianship; (2) whose parent, guardian, or person with whom the child lives, by reason of cruelty, mental incapacity, immorality, or
depravity is unfit to properly care for such child; (3) who is under unlawful or improper care, supervision, custody, or restraint by any person, corporation, agency, association, institution, society, or other organization or who is unlawfully kept out of school; (4) whose parent, guardian, or custodian neglects, or
refuses to provide necessary medical, surgical, institutional, or hospital care for such child; (5) who because of lack of proper supervision, is found in any place the existence of which is in violation of law; (6) who is in such condition of want or suffering or is under such improper guardianship or control as to injure or
endanger the morals, or health of himself or others; or (7) who is suffering from or has sustained a wound, injury, disability, or physical or mental condition caused by brutality, abuse, or neglect.

DEPOSITION - Sworn testimony taken outside the courtroom according to the rules of the court.

DISCOVERY - A pretrial proceeding where a party to an action may be informed of the facts known by other parties or witnesses.

DISMISS - Termination of a case. The court may enter an order dismissing a case for cause or the prosecuting attorney for the state may dismiss the matter for reasons such as lack of evidence, death of a witness, or because the matter is to be refiled due to the original indictment being defective, etc.

DISPOSITION - The act or the power of settling a matter finally; to bring something to its conclusion.

DOCKET - Book containing entries of all proceedings in a court.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY - Prohibition against more than one prosecution for the same crime.

DUE PROCESS - Constitutional guarantee that an accused person receives a fair and impartial trial.

DUI - Driving under the influence of intoxication. Any person found operating a motor vehicle with ten hundredth of one percent (.10) alcohol content in his or her blood.



EN BANC - "On the bench." All judges of a court sitting together to hear a case.

ET AL - "and others".

EVIDENCE - Any species of proof, or probative matter, legally presented at the trial of an issue, by the act of the parties and through the medium of witnesses, records, documents, exhibits, concrete objects, etc. for the purpose of inducing belief in the minds of the court or jury as to their contention. Testimony, writings,
material objects, or other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact.

EXCULPATORY - Clearing or tending to clear from alleged fault or guilty; excusing.

EXHIBIT - An item of physical/tangible evidence which is to be or has been offered to the court of inspection.

EX OFFICIO JUSTICES - Judges who serve in a particular capacity by reason of their office as a judge who serves on a commission or board because the law requires a particular judge to serve thereon and not because he is selected for such post. May also refer to one who exercises judicial functions by reason of his office.

EXONERATION - The removal of a burden, charge, responsibility, or duty.

EX PARTE - A proceeding brought for the benefit of one party only without notice to or challenge by an adverse party.

EX PARTE HEARING - Hearings in which the court or tribunal hears only one side of the controversy.

EXPUNGEMENT OF THE RECORD - Process by which record of criminal cases is destroyed or sealed after expiration of time.

ERROR CORAM NOBIS - Error committed in the proceedings "before us"; i.e., error assigned as a ground for reviewing, modifying, or vacating a judgment in the same court in which it was rendered. A writ to bring before the court that pronounced judgment errors in matters of fact which had not been put in issue or passed on and were material to validity and regularity of legal proceeding itself.



FACIAS - Latin for "that you cause". Generally used with Latin words directing an officer of the court to "cause" or make something happen.

FELONY - A serious criminal offense for which the minimum sentence is one year.

FIDELITY AND GUARANTY INSURANCE - A contract of fidelity or guaranty insurance is one whereby the insurer, for a valuable consideration, agrees, subject to certain conditions, to indemnify the insured against loss consequent upon the dishonesty or default of a designated person. Guaranty insurance, used in its broad sense, also includes credit insurance, and the title insurance, as well as the numerous forms of surety bonds.

FIERI FACIAS - Lat. Means that you "cause (it) to be done." A writ of execution commanding the sheriff to levy and make the amount of a judgment from the goods and chattels of the judgment debtor.

FINDING OF FACT - Determinations from the evidence of a case, either by court or an administrative agency, concerning facts averred by one party and denied by another. A determination of a fact by the court, and founded on evidence in case.

FINE - A pecuniary punishment imposed by lawful tribunal upon person convicted of crime or misdemeanor. A monetary penalty. It may include a forfeiture or penalty recoverable in a civil action, and in criminal convictions, may be in addition to imprisonment.

FISCAL - In general, having to do with financial matters; i.e. money taxes, public or private revenues, etc. Belonging to the fisc, or public treasury. Relating to accounts or the management of revenue. Of or pertaining to the public finances of a government or private finances of business.

FOREMAN or FOREPERSON - The presiding member of a grand or petit jury, who speaks or answers for the jury.

FORENSIC - Belonging to courts of justice.

FORENSIC MEDICINE - That science which teaches the application of every branch of medical knowledge to the purposes of the law; hence its limits are, on the one hand, the requirements of the law, and, on the other, the whole range of medicine. Anatomy, physiology, medicine, surgery, chemistry, physics, and botany lend their aid as necessity arises; and in some cases all these branches of science are required to enable a court of law to arrive at a proper conclusion on a contested question affecting life or property.

FORFEITURE OF BOND - A failure to perform the condition upon which obligor was to be excused from the penalty in the bond. With respect to a bail bond, occurs when the accused fails to appear for trial.



GENERAL SESSIONS COURT - Tennessee courts designed to exercise jurisdiction formerly held by justices of the peace. Generally speaking, they are limited jurisdiction courts that try misdemeanor criminal cases, and civil actions where a small amount of money is in controversy.

GO HENCE - To depart from the court; with the further implication that a suitor who is directed to "go hence" is dismissed from further attendance upon the court in respect to the suit or proceeding which brought him there.

GRAND JURY - A panel of citizens sworn to inquire into crime and if appropriate bring accusations, or indictments, against the suspects.

GUARDIAN - A person legally charged with the power and duty of managing the estate and affairs of a person who because of some condition cannot manage his or her affairs.

GUILTY PLEA - Formal admission in court as to guilty which defendant may make if he or she does so intelligently and voluntarily; i.e. accused can only make such plea after he or she has been fully advised of rights and court has determined that accused understands such rights and is making plea voluntarily.



HABEAS CORPUS - "You have the body." A writ of habeas corpus requires that a person be brought before a judge. It is usually used to direct an official to produce a prisoner so the court may determine if liberty has been denied without due process.

HABEAS CORPUS AD PROSEQUENDUM - A writ which issues when it is necessary to remove a prisoner in order to prosecute in the proper jurisdiction wherein the fact was committed.

HABEAS CORPUS AD TESTIFICANDUM - At common law, the writ, meaning "you have the body to testify", used to bring up a prisoner detained in a jail or prison to give evidence before the court.

HABITUAL CRIMINAL - A legal category created by statute in many states by which severe penalties ranging up to life imprisonment can be imposed on criminal s convicted of any crime the third or fourth time. In general, habitual offender statutes impose greater sentences on offender for repeated crimes, with life
imprisonment being imposed upon commission of several felonies.

HALLUCINOGENIC DRUG - Drugs that induce hallucinations, such as mescaline, LSD, and the like.

HASHISH - Drug which is formed of resin scraped from the flowering top of the cannabis plant, as distinguished from marijuana which consists of the chopped leaves and stems of the cannabis plant.

HEARSAY - A statement, other than one made by the declarant while testifying at the trial or hearing offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. "Hearsay evidence" is evidence of a statement that was made other than by a witness while testifying at the hearing and that is offered to prove the truth of the matter stated.

HOMICIDE - The killing of one human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another. The act of a human being in taking away the life of another human being. A person is guilty of criminal homicide if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being. Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.

HOSTILE WITNESS - A witness who manifests so much hostility or prejudice under examination in chief that the party who has called him, or his representative, is allowed to cross-examine him, i.e., to treat him as though he had been called by the opposite party. When a party calls a hostile witness, an adverse party, or a witness identified with an adverse party, interrogation may be by leading questions. Federal Rules of Evidence Rule 611.

HUNG JURY - A jury so irreconcilable divided in opinion that they cannot agree upon any verdict. See dynamite instruction.



INCARCERATED - Imprisoned; confined to a jail or penitentiary.

INDEXED - Information or names placed in a book containing references.

INDICTMENT - Written accusation of a grand jury charging a crime.

INDIGENT - Without available funds; usually used in connection with a person who is unable to pay costs, bond, or an attorney in a legal proceeding, and whose responsible relatives are likewise unable to pay.

INJUNCTION - Court orders prohibiting specific actions from being carried out.

INFAMOUS - Shameful or disgraceful. Possessing notorious reputation. Famous or well known in a derogatory sense.

INSTANTER - Immediately; directly; without delay; at once.

INTERROGATORIES - Written questions which must be answered under oath.

INTOXICATION - Term comprehends situation where, by reason of drinking intoxicants, an individual does not have the normal use of his physical or mental faculties, thus rendering him incapable of acting in the manner in which an ordinarily prudent and cautious man, in full possession of his faculties, using reasonable care, would act under like conditions.



JUDGMENT - Final determination by a court.

JUDGMENT DOCUMENT - Document that explains the sentence an offender receives from a trial court.

JURIS - Lat. Of right; of law.

JURISDICTION- The authority designating the limits and bounds of the legal right by which a judge exercises his authority to make lawful decisions. The power or right to act. Jurisdiction refers both to authority over the subject matter, or type of case; and over the person or thing.

JURISPRUDENCE - The science of law.

JURY - A certain number of men and women selected according to law, and sworn (jurati) to inquire of certain matters of fact, and declare the truth upon evidence to be laid before them. A jury is a body of persons temporarily selected from the citizens of a particular district, and invested with power to present or indict a person for a public offense, or to try a question of fact.

JURY CHARGE - The instruction of the jury by the judge on matters of law, their duties and their obligation under law.

JURY COMMISSIONER -An officer charged with the duty of selecting the names to be put into the jury wheel, or of drawing the panel of jurors for a particular term of court. Local official responsible for collecting lists of qualified prospective jurors for submission to court.

JURY INSTRUCTIONS - A direction given by the judge to the jury concerning the law of the case; a statement made by the judge to the jury informing them of the law applicable to the case in general or some aspect of it; an exposition or the rules or principles of law applicable to the case or some branch or phase of it, which the jury are bound to accept and apply.



LIMITED JURISDICTION - Courts limited in the types of criminal and civil cases they may hear.

LITIGANT - Person or group engaged in a lawsuit.



MALICIOUS - Characterized by, or involving, malice; having, or done with, wicked or mischievous intentions or motives; wrongful and done intentionally without just cause or excuse.

MAGISTRATE - A public officer invested with certain limited legal functions; generally the right to issue arrest and search warrants, take oaths and hear misdemeanor cases.

MANDAMUS - Lat. We command. this is the name of a writ which issues from a court of superior jurisdiction, and is directed to a private or municipal corporation, or any of its officers, or to an executive, administrative or judicial officer, or to an inferior court, commanding the performance of a particular act therein specified, and belonging to his or their public, official, or ministerial duty, or directing the
restoration of the complainant to rights or privileges of which he has been illegally deprived

MANDATE - A command, order, or direction, written or oral, which court is authorized to give and person is bound to obey.

MEMORANDUM OF UNDERSTANDING- A written agreement between a district attorney and a defendant's attorney to admit the defendant to pretrial diversion, contingent upon the defendant's compliance with the memorandum's conditions.

MINUTE BOOK - An official book or equivalent file kept by the clerk for the purpose of recording the actions and decisions of the court (i.e., the minutes of the court). The court speaks only through its signed (by the trial judge) minutes and no orders, judgment, or decree is effective for any purpose until it is spread upon the minutes. The minutes must include proper captions to establish the jurisdiction of the court, and must be signed by the trial judge.

MINUTES - Memoranda or notes of a transaction or proceeding. A memorandum of what takes place in the court, made by the attorney of the court.

MISDEMEANOR - Criminal offense that is less than a felony and punishable by less than a year in jail.

MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES - Do not justify or excuse an offense, but may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.

MITTIMUS - Lat. "we send." The name of a precept in writing, issuing from a court or magistrate, directed to the sheriff or other officer, commanding him to convey to the prison the person named therein, and to the jailer, commanding him to receive and safely keep such person until he shall be delivered by due course of

MOTION - Oral or written request 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.

MOOT - Unsettled or undecided.



NEGLIGENCE - The absence of ordinary care.

NOLLE PROSEQUI - Lat. A formal entry upon the record by the prosecuting officer in a criminal action, by which he declares that he "will no further prosecute" the case, either as to some of the defendants, or altogether. Commonly called "nol Pros".

NOLO CONTENDERE - Latin phrase meaning "I will not contest it"; a plea in a criminal case which has a similar legal effect as pleading guilty. A defendant may plead nolo contendere only with the consent of the court.

NOTICE OF APPEAL - A document giving notice of an intention to appeal filed with the appellate court and served on the opposing party.

NOT TRUE BILL - Upon presentation of a case to the grand jury and the requisite number of votes are not received, then there is no indictment and the grand jury returns a "not true bill".

NULLA BONA - Lat. No goods. The name of the return made by the sheriff to a writ of execution, when he has not found any goods of the defendant within his jurisdiction on which he could levy.

NUNC PRO TUNC - Lat. Now for then. A phrase applied to acts allowed to be done after the time when they should be done, with a retroactive effect, i.e., with the same effect as if regularly done. Nunc pro tunc entry is an entry made now of something actually previously done to have effect of former date.



OFFENSE - A breach or breaking of a criminal law, either felony or misdemeanor.

OPINION, PER CURIUM- Phrase used to distinguish an opinion of the whole court from an opinion written by only one judge.

OPUS - Lat. Work; labor; the product of work or labor.

ORDER - A mandate; precept; command or direction authoritatively given; rule or regulation.



PAROLE - The conditional and revocable release of an inmate by the Board of Paroles to parole supervision.

PAUPER'S OATH (In Forma Pauperis) - An oath by a person stating that he or she is without money to pay the necessary costs of litigation. It is used to proceed In Forma Pauperis.

PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE - The right to challenge a juror without assigning a reason for the challenge. In most jurisdictions each party of an action, both civil and criminal, has a specified number of such challenges.

PERJURY - In criminal law, the willful assertion as to a matter of fact, opinion, belief, or knowledge, made by a witness in a judicial proceeding as part of his evidence, either upon or in any form allowed by law to be substituted for an oath, or in a affidavit, or otherwise, such assertion being material to the issue or point of
inquiry and known to such witness to be false.

PER SE - Lat. By himself or itself; in itself; taken alone; inherently; in isolation; unconnected with other matters.

PETIT - Fr. Small; minor; inconsiderable. Used in several compounds, and sometimes written "petty."

PETITION - An application made to a court requesting the court to take some type of action. It is usually in writing and states the facts and circumstances of the request.

PLAINTIFF - A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action and is so named on the record. A person who seeks remedial relief for an injury to rights; it designates a complainant.

PLEA - A pleading, the first pleading on the part of the defendant to the indictment as to his guilt or innocence.

POST-CONVICTION REMEDIES - Almost every state has one or more post-conviction procedures that permit prisoners to challenge at least some constitutional violations.

POSTHUMOUS - That which is done after the death of a person.

POST CONVICTION - An act after the conviction of a person. Generally used to denote a procedure where a defendant found guilty and arrested of a criminal act has another chance to have a court review his conviction on constitutional questions.

POST-MORTEM - After death; pertaining to matters occurring after death. A term generally applied to an autopsy or examination of a dead body, to ascertain the cause of death, or to the inquisition for that purpose by the coroner.

POWER OF ATTORNEY - Document authorizing another to act as one's agent or attorney in fact (not an attorney at law).

PRESUMPTION - A presumption is a rule of law, statutory or juridical, by which finding of a basic fact gives rise to existence of presumed fact, until presumption is rebutted.

PRE-TRIAL DIVERSION - A system of recent origin by which certain defendants in criminal cases are referred to community agencies prior to trial while their criminal complaints or indictments are held in abeyance. The defendant may be given job training, counseling, and education. If he responds successfully
within a specified period, the charges against him are commonly dismissed.

PRIMA FACIE - Lat. At first sight; on the first appearance; on the face of it; so far as can be judged from the first disclosure; presumably; a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary.

PROBABLE CAUSE - Reasonable cause; having more evidence for than against.

PROBATE - The legal process of establishing the validity of a will and settling an estate.

PROBATION - A sentence of confinement which is suspended upon a term of probation supervision. It may include community service or restitution or both. Probation must automatically be considered if the defendant is eligible.

PRO BONO - Legal services provided without attorney fees.

PRO SE - Legal representation of oneself.

PROSECUTOR - One who prosecutes another for a crime in the name of the government or people. The prosecutor may be the Attorney General, District Attorney General, State Attorney, County Attorney, or City Attorney.

PRO TEM - "Temporary."



QUASH - To overthrow; to abate; to vacate; to annul; to make void; e.g. to quash an indictment.

QUORUM - A majority of the entire body. The number of members who must be present in a deliberative body before business may be transacted.



RECOGNIZANCE - An obligation entered into before a court or magistrate duly authorized for that purpose whereby the recognizor acknowledges that he will do some act required by law which is specified therein.

REMAND - To send back.

RESCIND - To abrogate, annul, avoid, or cancel a contract.



SENTENCE - A judgment formally pronounced in open court by the judge upon the defendant after his conviction in a criminal prosecution, stating the punishment to be inflicted.

SENTENCE, CONCURRENT - Two or more sentences which run at the same time.

SENTENCE, CONSECUTIVE - Two or more sentences which run one after another (running wild).

SENTENCE, DETERMINATE - A sentence that states exactly the time to be served or money to be paid.

SEQUESTER A JURY - To place members of a jury into 24 hour a day seclusion until a verdict is reached (locked up jury).

SETTLEMENT CONFERENCE - A meeting between parties of a lawsuit, their attorneys and a judge to attempt a resolution of the dispute without a trial.

SPECIAL JUDGE - A judge who may be assigned to hear a matter for one of various reasons. Usually the judge will have authority set by order or statute.

STATUTE - A law created by the Legislature.

STAY - Halting a judicial proceeding by order of the court.

SUBPOENA - A written legal notice requiring a person to appear in court and give testimony or produce documentary evidence.

SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM - "Under penalty you shall take it with you." A process by which the court commands a witness to produce specific documents or records in a trial.

SUMMONS - A leading or initial process method of serving notice on a defendant informing him of the lawsuit and requiring him to appear and defend on a certain day, or suffer a default judgment.

SUPPRESSION OF EVIDENCE - An order of the court that certain evidence should be prohibited from being used in a case.

SURETY - The person who promises to pay money in the event the principal (i.e., the person conditioned to perform) fails in the performance of certain duties or acts. EXAMPLE: A is arrested and his bond is $10,000.
B signs the bond, guaranteeing A's appearance in court. If A fails to appear, then B, as surety, must forfeit $10,000 (B has recourse to seek recovery from A).



TANGIBLE EVIDENCE - Evidence which consists of something which can be seen or touched, e.g. gun in homicide trial. In contrast to testimonial evidence, tangible evidence is real evidence

TECHNICAL RECORD - That part of the transcription on appeal which is prepared by the clerk of court and is composed of the petition, answer, other filed papers, and all the minute entries pertaining to the case,
including the indictment. The record on appeal, called the transcript, is comprised of the clerk's technical record plus the court reporter's transcript of the evidence; the trial clerk combines them into the transcript and forwards it to the appellate clerk.

TORT - An injury or wrong committed with or without force to the person or property of another giving rise to a claim for damages.

TOXICOLOGY - The science of poisons; that department of medical science which treats poisons, their effect, their recognition, their antidotes, and generally of the diagnosis and therapeutics of poisoning.

TRUE BILL - The endorsement made by a grand jury upon a bill of indictment, when they find it sustained by the evidence laid before them, and are satisfied of the truth of the accusation. The endorsement made by the grand jury when they find sufficient evidence to warrant a criminal charge. An indictment.



VENIRE (to come) - Most commonly used to refer to a group of jurors summoned to court for duty.

VENIRE FACIAS (to cause to come) - The writ used to summons jurors to appear in court.

VENUE - The specific county, city or geographical area in which a court has jurisdiction.

VERBATIM - Being in or following the exact words: word for word.

VERDICT - A declaration of the truth as to the matter of fact submitted to the jury. The definitive answer given by the jury to the court concerning the matters of fact committed to the jury for their deliberation and determination.

VERSUS - Lat. Against. In the title of a cause, the name of the plaintiff is put first, followed by the word "versus," then the defendant's name. The word is commonly abbreviated "vs." or "v."

VIOLATION - A breach of right, duty or law; an infringement or wrong doing.

VOIR DIRE - (pronounced "vwar-deer") - "To speak the truth." The process of preliminary examination of prospective jurors regarding their qualifications.



WAIVER - The intentional or voluntary relinquishment of a known right. The renunciation, repudiation, abandonment or surrender of some claim, right, privilege, or of the opportunity to take advantage of some right, defect, irregularity, or wrong.

WRIT - A written court order directing a person to perform or refrain from performing a specific act.

WRIT OF MANDAMUS - An order issued by a court of superior jurisdiction commanding performance of a particular act by an inferior court or public official.


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