An assertion or declaration made by a party within the context of a legal proceeding, outlining claims that they intend to prove through the course of the trial. It sets the foundation for the case, requiring the presenting party to substantiate these claims with concrete evidence to establish their validity.


A formal procedure whereby a party dissatisfied with the judgment of a lower court requests a higher court to re-examine the facts and legal conclusions of the case. This process is critical for rectifying potential errors in the application of law or in judgment, ensuring the fairness and correctness of legal proceedings.


Refers to all forms of property and possessions owned by an individual or entity, including but not limited to real estate, investments, bank accounts, and personal property. In legal contexts, particularly in disputes involving financial compensation, the assessment of what constitutes a “reasonable” amount often hinges on the available assets of the liable party.

Burden of Proof

The obligation placed on one party in a legal dispute to prove the facts at issue. It is a cornerstone of the justice system, requiring the plaintiff (in civil cases) or prosecution (in criminal cases) to establish the truth of their claims to a certain standard, such as “preponderance of evidence” in civil cases or “beyond a reasonable doubt” in criminal ones.


A legal action initiated through the court system by filing appropriate legal documents such as a complaint, indictment, or petition. It encompasses the entire legal process from initiation to resolution, covering disputes, accusations, or controversies brought before a judicial body.


The formal declaration that someone is guilty of a criminal offense, made by the verdict of a jury or decision of a judge in a court of law. Convictions are the outcome of criminal trials where the evidence sufficiently demonstrates the defendant’s guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.


An individual or entity against whom legal action is taken in a court of law. Defendants are required to respond to the plaintiff’s allegations, and their role is central to the adversarial legal process, ensuring that all parties have the opportunity to present their case.


The process of taking sworn, out-of-court oral testimony of a witness, which is then transcribed for later use in court or for discovery purposes. Depositions are a key element of the pre-trial discovery process, allowing both sides to gather information and build their cases.


A pre-trial procedure in a lawsuit in which each party, through the law of civil procedure, can obtain evidence from the other party or parties by means of discovery devices such as interrogatories, requests for production of documents, and depositions. This process helps to ensure that both sides have access to pertinent facts, promoting fairness in the trial.

Due Process

A fundamental principle of fairness in all legal matters, both civil and criminal, especially in the courts. It refers to the requirement that legal proceedings be conducted with fairness and respect for all parties’ rights, ensuring that no individual is deprived of life, liberty, or property without appropriate legal processes and safeguards.


Any material presented in court to support the claims or defenses of a party in a legal dispute. This includes but is not limited to documents, witness testimony, physical objects, and digital materials. Evidence is crucial for establishing the veracity of the legal arguments presented.


The final decision of a court resolving the dispute before it, determining the rights and obligations of the parties involved. Judgments are legally binding and may require the payment of damages, enforcement of contracts, or other remedies.


A body of citizens sworn to give a verdict in a legal case on the basis of evidence submitted to them in court. The jury plays a crucial role in the legal system by ensuring that community standards are considered in the determination of guilt or innocence.


The process of taking legal action; the series of actions or steps taken to resolve disputes through the court system. Litigation encompasses the entire legal process from filing and discovery through the trial and, potentially, to appeals.

Motion to Dismiss

A procedural legal motion filed by a defendant in response to a complaint, seeking to have the case dismissed on specific grounds such as lack of legal basis or jurisdiction. It is a preliminary step that can conclude a case before it proceeds to trial.


The process whereby parties involved in a dispute attempt to reach a mutually acceptable agreement to resolve their issues without the need for a trial. Negotiation is a cornerstone of conflict resolution and is often encouraged to save time, resources, and the uncertainties of litigation.


An assertion or challenge made by an attorney during a trial to oppose the admissibility of certain evidence or the manner in which testimony is presented. Objections are ruled on by the judge, who decides whether the evidence or testimony is appropriate according to the rules of evidence.


A judge’s decision to reject an objection raised by an attorney, determining that the evidence or procedure in question is permissible under the rules of the court. This term contrasts with “sustain,” where the judge agrees with the objection and excludes the challenged evidence or testimony.


The criminal offense of lying or making verifiably false statements under oath in a judicial proceeding. Perjury undermines the integrity of the legal process and is punishable by law, reflecting the importance of truthfulness in judicial proceedings.


An individual or entity who initiates a lawsuit against another party in a court of law. The plaintiff alleges wrongdoing by the defendant and seeks legal remedy, such as damages or enforcement of a right.


The imposition of a penalty on someone as retribution for an offense, particularly within the context of criminal law. Punishments are determined by courts following convictions and are intended to serve as both retribution and a deterrent against future offenses.


A legal document issued by a court at the request of a party to a case, compelling the appearance of a witness at a legal proceeding such as a trial or deposition, or requiring the submission of documents relevant to the case.


The act of providing evidence or bearing witness in a legal proceeding, under oath. To testify is to offer verbal testimony in court or in other judicial settings, sharing observations, facts, or experiences pertinent to the case at hand.


The final decision made by a jury regarding the outcome of a trial, determining the guilt or innocence of a defendant in a criminal case, or the liability and damages in a civil case. The verdict is a critical component of the trial process, concluding the judicial determination of the case.


An individual who gives testimony in a legal proceeding about what they have personally observed or know. Witnesses are crucial for providing first-hand accounts of events, helping to establish the facts of the case before the court.