Common Legal Jargon and Legalese

Plaintiff-a person who brings a case against another person or entity in a court of law.


Defendant- a person or entity sued or accused in a court of law.


Deposition- the written record of a witness's out-of-court testimony.


Summary Judgment-Rule of Civil Procedure 56 permits any party to a civil action to move for a summary judgment to a claim, counterclaim, or cross-claim, when he believes that there is no genuine issue of material fact and that he is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. 


Interrogatory- a written question that is formally put to one party in a case by another party and that must be answered in writing and under oath.


Discovery- the compulsory disclosure, by a party to an action, of relevant documents or other information requested by the other party to the proceeding.


Trial- a formal examination of evidence by a judge or jury, in order to decide guilt in a criminal case or obligations in civil proceedings.


Product Liability-Refers to the legal liability of manufacturers and sellers to compensate buyers, users, and even bystanders, for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods purchased. (Click here for more information)


Tort- wrongful act or an infringement of a right (other than under contract) leading to legal liability.


Court of Appeal- a court that reviews the rulings of a trial (district) court.


District Court- a state or federal trial court.


Jury- a body of people sworn to give a verdict in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted to them in court


Expert- a person who has a comprehensive and authoritative knowledge of or skill in a particular area.


Succession- the action or process of inheriting a title, office, property, etc. after a person’s death.


Heir-a person legally entitled to the property or rank of another on that person's death


Legatee- a person who receives a legacy from a will.


Probate- the official proving of a will in court.


Forced Heirship- those persons whom the testator or donor cannot deprive of the portion of his estate reserved for them by law, except in cases where he has a just cause to disinherit them. 


Will-a legal document containing instructions as to what should be done with one's money and property after one's death.


Codicil-an addition or supplement that explains, modifies, or revokes a will or part of one.


Executor (Executrix)- a person or institution appointed by a testator to carry out the terms of their will.


Administrator (Adminstratrix)- a person legally appointed to manage and dispose of the estate of an intestate, deceased person, debtor, or other individual, or of an insolvent company.


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