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Legal Concepts


									Legal Concepts

Subpoena: A mandatory writ directing a party to appear at a certain time and place for the purpose of testifying or furnishing documentary evidence in a court of law. A written legal order directing a person to appear in court to testify. Example 1: You may be the witness of an illegal chemical dumping. You would be subpoenaed and would have to testify to the facts of the case. Example 2: If you witness a crime you may be subpoenaed into court to testify. Judicial Law: Laws that are directly enforced that have been passed by legislative bodies. Laws that are enforced by the courts. Laws that get an impartial decision from a judge or jury. Example 1: The right of 18 year olds to vote and the right to assemble. Example 2: Because he set the woods on fire on purpose he will be dealt with by the Judicial law. Facts of case: Particular occurrences that have relevancy to the legal situation at hand. The facts that pertain to the case. Only those things that are relevant to the case. Example 1: If someone was accused of hunting out of season, the facts might include things like: did the person have a gun (or bow) in their possession?; were they in the area at the time of the crime?; did anyone see them?; did they have any dead animals in their car?; etc. Example 2: The judge stated stick to the facts of the case. Law: Body of official rules and regulations, generally found in constitutions, legislation, and judicial; opinions that are used to govern a society and to control the behavior of its members. A set of rules that we must go by in order to live in a society. Laws govern almost everything that we do, from driving to working. Violation of these rules could lead to government actions such as fines or imprisonment. Example 1: In a wilderness area, laws have been established that severely restrict the use of the land and violations are severely enforced. Example 2: The law says the speed limit is 55mph. Pardon: (undeserved mercy) Pardon is the act of setting aside the punishment for a crime. Governors have the power to pardon as well as the President. A government decision to allow a person who has been convicted of a crime, to be free and absolved of that conviction, as if never convicted, in the United States, the power to pardon for federal offenses belongs to the President. To release from further punishment. To excuse a person for a fault. Example 1: Governors can pardon someone to prevent execution. Example 2: The governor gave the prisoner a pardon and he was then released. Court of Jurisdiction: The court in which the offense or crime happened. The jurisdiction that you are in. You must go to the court whose jurisdiction you are in. If a land dispute occurs in Wise County you must go to the court in Wise County, not Scott County. If you commit a federal crime you must go to a federal court. If it's a state crime you go to a state court.Example: If you illegally dump used oil cans in Wise County, your court of jurisdiction is the Wise County Court House.

Punitive Damages: Damages awarded to the plaintiff beyond the actual loss, imposed as a punishment for the defendant for a wrong. When intent was involved, known of damages that may occur but does so anyway.Money awarded to one party based on in jury or loss caused by the other. Awarded over and above special and general damages to punish a losing party's willful or malicious misconduct. Example 1: If someone is hurt in an automobile accident, they often sue or are awarded the cost of the repair bills and hospital bills. Example 2: Poachers of endangered species; elephants for their ivory. Example 3: The garage had to pay her $5000 in punitive damages because they failed to fix her brakes and she was injured in the accident. Cease and desist: A legal order to immediately stop all actions. An order from a court ordering a company, organization, or someone to stop doing something. Example 1: If a company is mining coal on National Forest Land and are caught and served with a cease and desist order, they must discontinue all operations and leave the area immediately. Example 2: The court ordered the construction company to stop building because there is an endangered species in the area. Court: Bar of justice, bench forum, place where justice is administered. A place where trials are held. A place where legal disputes are settled. Example 1: Court is where a person goes to in order to be tried, or present a case of law. Example 2: If the police give you a ticket for reckless driving, you must go to court to settle it. Plea bargain: To plead guilty in return for a lesser sentence. A negotiation between the prosecution and defense and sometimes the judge that settles a criminal case. The defendant typically pleads guilty to a lesser crime in exchange for a guaranteed sentence that would be shorter than if convicted. Example 1: If someone is guilty of growing marijuana, they can plead guilty, save the court money, and receive a shorter sentence. Example 2: The man made a plea bargain for murder to manslaughter. Petite jury: The ordinary jury for the trial of a civil or criminal action: so called to distinguish it from the grand jury. A jury which decides on a court case. They listen to trial and decide if a person is guilty or innocent of a crime. Example 1: Petite jury has 12 jurors to try the case. Example 2: The jury decided he was guilty of shooting the eagle. Preponderance of evidence: Evidence which is of greater weight or more convincing than the evidence which is offered in opposition to it. A word describing evidence that persuades a judge or jury to lean to one side as opposed to the other during the course of litigation (a dispute is in litigation when it has become the subject of a formal court action) the side with the preponderance of evidence wins the case. Evidence that persuades a judge or jury to lean to one side as opposed to the other during the course of litigation. Example 1: Companies will do or take what steps they must to keep the public from knowing what problems they have; if the problems do get to the public and an action is took, by one or two people, the people don't stand a chance against company lawyers. Example 2: An eyewitness has more weight than circumstantial evidence. Example 3: The preponderance of evidence from the prosecution got the man convicted of the crime.

Fifth Amendment: Freedom from self-incrimination and Federal Due Process clause. No person shall be held to answer for a capital or otherwise in famous crime, unless on a presentment or indictment of a grand jury, except in cases arising in the land or naval forces, or in the militia, when in actual service in time of war or public danger; nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice in jeopardy of life or limb; nor shall be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself, nor be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation. Example 1: A US citizen has the right to testify or incriminate himself. Example 2: Wetlands is part of the debate that is so contentious that it affects directly individuals not just corporate America, two decades ago, the "regulated community" generally included only corporations and municipalities; in contrast Federal and state laws that prevent the destruction of wetlands impinge on traditional notions of land ownership and use and as such affect the millions of people in this country who own approximately 75 million acres of wetlands in private ownership in the contiguous regulatory regulations, is what some landowners are demanding; alternatively, they argue that the Takings Clause entitles them to compensation for any more than minimal reduction of value of their property should federal regulations prevent them from engaging in certain activity on their property. Example 3: The fifth amendment prevented the man from being tried twice for killing the eagle. Clerk of Court: An officer of court who files pleadings, motions, judgments, issues process, and keeps records to court proceedings. An official or employee who handles the business of a court or system of courts, maintains files of each case, and issues routine documents. Example 1: The clerk of court is like the secretary of the court. Example 2: To get a file or record of the case he had to go to the Wise County Clerk of Court. Precedent: An adjusted case or decision of a court, considered as furnishing an example or authority for an identical or similar case afterwards arising or a similar question of law. A prior reported opinion of an appeals court which establishes the legal rule (authority) in the future on the same question decided in the prior judgment; a situation which must exist before a party to a contract has to perform. A legal principle or rule created by one or more decisions of a state or federal court. A point of reference for judges deciding on similar issues. Example 1: In 1991, Congress passed the Great Lakes Critical Programs Act, which require the Agency and its State partners to develop more protective and uniform standards, criteria, and procedures to control industrial discharges, we are proud of the Great Lakes water quality guidance and the progress that has been made. Example 2: Because of a precedent set in an earlier case, the judge had to make the same ruling. Federal Court: Court operating under Federal jurisdiction. The court you go to when you are accused of a federal crime. Example: If caught poaching in a National Park you will go to federal court.

Supreme Court: An appellate court existing in most states. The is the highest court or the last resort. The highest federal court. The highest court in most states. Example: The case was appealed to the VA Supreme Court. Laws from Code of Virginia: Particular laws that are applicable to Virginia. Example 1: The state trooper wrote her a ticket according to the vehicle code of Virginia. Example 2: nuisance laws. It's hard to defend someone if not being paid: A lawyer who is not being paid to defend someone, usually does not try to do their best at defending that person or persons. Someone who has a court appointed attorney may not have as good a chance because their heart is not into it. If someone has alot of money to hire an expensive attorney, that attorney is going to try harder to win the case. He has more at stake in the case. Example: O.J. Simpson's lawyers tried very hard. Not of sound mind: Not able to understand things fully. Not having an understanding of ones actions and reasonable knowledge of ones family, possessions, and surroundings; can not manage their affairs or act for themselves in legal situations. When a person isn't thinking clearly because of their mental health. When a person can not be held responsible for their actions because they are not aware of what they are doing. Example 1: Someone that sets off bombs in a chemical plant and when they explode causes bodily harm to the employees and leads to pollution problems. Example 2: The man was not charged with arson because he was not of sound mind. The man plead temporary insanity and was acquitted of the charge of murder. Perfect case: Case that has the same characteristics of a prejudged case in which the ruling is predictable. A stated argument entirely without any flaws used to support a viewpoint. When you have a case that you can't lose. You have all your facts together. The defense had a perfect case, so the charges were dropped. Example 1: A farmer that had livestock dying on his farm and did not dispose of the animals properly or at all, neighbors knew of his situation because of the smell; the decomposing animals caused methane gas, which is pollution, also disease to the live animals. Example 2: It would have been a perfect case if they could have found the gun. Contempt: A willful disregard or disobedience of a public authority. Example: Automotive companies that are not in compliance with Motor Vehicle Air Conditioner enforcement initiative under the Federal Clean Air Act. Example 2: The judge found her in contempt because she would not answer his questions. He had contempt for the police officer who arrested him. Records: A written account of some act, court proceeding, transaction, etc. A formal, written account of a case, containing the complete formal history of all actions taken, papers filed, rulings made, and opinions written; evidence can be included in the record. Documents used to record an event or a specific thing that takes place to be used as a later reference or in a court of law. Example 1: OSHA 657 (c)(2) the secretary, in cooperation with the secretary of health and human services, shall prescribe regulations

requiring employers to maintain accurate records of, and to make periodic reports on work related deaths, injuries, and illnesses other than minor injuries requiring only first aid treatment and which do not involve medical treatment, loss of consciousness, restriction of work or motion or transfer to another job. Example 2: The nurse checked her medical records. The court clerk got the criminal records of the accused. Nullification of terms by non-enforcement: When a law is unenforceable due to specific circumstances. When something is not enforced. When something is ignored because for some reason it is not enforced. Writ of Habius Corpus (Waived): Habius Corpus is the right to have charges levied against them. A writ requiring a person to be brought before a judge or court, especially for investigation of restraint of the persons liberty, used as a protection against illegal imprisonment; any of several common law writs issued to bring a party before a court. A requiring that a detained person not be brought before a court to decide the legality of the detention. Example 1: A man arrested for dumping hazardous waste must be formally charged with something before he can be detained. Example 2: They decided not to bring the farmer to court on the charges. The charges against the farmer were waived. Law enforced before crime: Law cannot be enforced before a crime except by control laws, as in chain of custody methods imposed by agencies such as the EPA. When a law violation is pointed out and taken care of before a crime or violation occurs. Example: The DEQ inspected the water plant and told them to take care of the problem. The forestry department told the logging company not to cut the trees on the National Forest. Extenuating circumstances: Specifics about a case concerning the individuals involved that may include preexisting conditions, state of mind, reasons why, etc. Circumstances that may make the situation less serious than it appears to be. Example: The person was charged with reckless driving but because his wife was having a baby the judge dismissed the case. The company was fined for pollution but because a pipe broke, they only had to clean the spill up. Keeping your slate clean: Avoid breaking laws or being with undesirable company. Staying out of trouble, keeping a good clean record. Example: The police done a background check on the suspect and he had a clean slate. Because she had a clean slate she got the security job. Testifying: To be a witness; give evidence as a witness. To tell what you know about something in court. Example: The witness was testifying as to what she saw happen during the accident. The engineer was called to testify about the building falling down. Registered letter: A legally certified or authenticated letter. Mail that is protected by paying a fee to have it handled by a special postal service usually an important letter. Example: I reported the problem to the Health Department by a registered letter. I received a registered letter from the lawyer about the court case.

Witness: Someone who provides evidence. Someone who sees something or knows something and is called to court to testify about what they know. Example: The woman was called to court as a witness to the accident she saw. Because there was a witness, the man was found guilty of shooting the eagle. Jury's expectations: What the jury is expected to do. Return a fair ruling. What the jury expects from a witness or the accused. The way a person is expected to act in court when on the witness stand. Example: The jury expected the woman to be more emotional when she was accused of killing her baby. The jury expected the expert to know what he was talking about. Time limits (Statute of Limitations): A case can have time limits for the individual. The amount of time that legal action can be taken against someone. Example: The building fell down before the statute of limitations ran out so the company is responsible. He could not be charged with the crime because the statute of limitations ran out. Selective cuts of jury: Keeps partial and biased people off of the jury. The prosecution and defense decide on the jury members. Questions are asked and each side gets to cut those they believe will be harmful to their case. Example: The prosecution cut the jury member because he was a distant relative of the accused. The defense cut the jury member because he was an ex-police officer. Rights (civil): The right guaranteed by the amendments to the constitution that all citizens have. The rights belonging to an individual by virtue of citizenship, especially the fundamental freedoms and privileges guaranteed by the constitution. Example 1: Right of free speech. Example 2: Because the police violated his civil rights he will not go to jail. The prison violated the inmates civil rights by not taking him to the hospital. Pleasing the client: The client dictates the way the case is proceeding. When an attorney and a client work together to achieve results. When the client is pleased with his attorney. Example: The client was pleased with the work by his lawyer. Perfect defense: A case that has the same points of law as another, and an airtight alibi. When you have a very good case, you can't lose because your case is air tight. Example: The defense could not lose because they had a perfect case. Because the game warden had a perfect case of poaching, the man plead guilty in court. Circuit Court: State court having original jurisdiction in several counties or a district. A state court that holds sessions at several different places within a judicial district. Example: The case will be tried in Circuit Court. The man was found guilty in Circuit Court of arson. Esculatory punishment: Punishment gets stiffer for repeat offenders. A punishment that gets worse each time the offense is committed, to keep someone from committing the same crime over and over. Example: The next time the man gets caught reckless driving

he will lose his license. The first fine was for 25 dollars, but the second time it was 125 dollars. "It's hard to have your heart in it if you're doing it for free" (No Rewards): Lawyers don't represent clients well when they're not paid. If doing something for free people feel it's not worth it. People don't like doing something if there aren't any rewards involved. You don't care much. Example: The men were not working hard because they were volunteers. They had a hard time getting volunteers to fight the forest fire for free. Increasing punishment for multiple infractions: Each time someone is punished for a particular offense, the penalty gets stiffer. Each time you break the law, the punishment gets harder. To prevent someone from doing the same crime over and over. Example 1: drug users. Example 2: The first time he was caught drinking and driving he was fined. The second time they took his license. The third time he caught the woods on fire he was sent to jail. Probable cause: Justified reasons; to gather evidence. Contract Law: A mutual agreement upon two or more parties which is paid for. Must be of legal age (18) and of sound mind. Grievance procedure: Steps set by guidelines to bring forth your reasons for being in the right. There is a statue of limitations (a time limit) on a grievance. Mitigating circumstances: Reasonable cause to break the laws. Implied warranty: Verbal agreements (hard to enforce). Expressed warranty: Written agreements (legal and binding contracts). Class action: Group with a grievance that file a suet on a particular subject. Right of discovery: The ability to gather information from the other party. If false information is received, you can send them to jail for perjury. Change of venue: Can't get a fair trial within an area (undo influence), therefore the trial is moved. Appeal: Looking at the same evidence, no new information. Same facts are looked at, picking and choosing the court and looking for a different conclusion. Irrelevant: Not bearing on the case. Rules of evidence: By law, legally obtained.

Affidavit: A notarized statement; a legal document signed by a creditable person; this could actually be documented on any material. Liability: Obligation by law to be responsible for property or action. One of the most significant words in the field of law, liability means legal responsibility for ones act or omissions. Example 1: Pollution liability - liability for injuries arising from the release of hazardous substances or pollutants or contaminants. Example 2: If someone falls on your walkway, you are responsible for their medical bills. Administrative law: The procedures created administrative agencies. Example: MSHA (Mining Safety and Health Agency) finding fault in a mine, inspectors shut them down, the mine can contest the action if he/she feels there is no fault. Appeals court: A legal proceeding, judicial proceeding, in which the appellant resorts to a higher court for the purpose of obtaining a review of a lower court decision and reversal of the lower courts judgment of the granting of a new trial. Example: Person is charged with negligence and disagrees with the lower courts decision. Beyond reasonable doubt: The highest level of proof required to win a case, necessary to get a guilty verdict in a criminal case; part of jury instructions in a criminal trial in which the jurors are told that they can only find the defendant guilty if they are convinced beyond a reason of doubt of his or her guilt. Case: Short for a cause of action, lawsuit or the right to sue. Example: A person poisoned by food from a restaurant that did not pass health department inspection. Change of venue: Most convenient place for a trial; can not get a fair trial within an area (undo influence), therefore trial is moved. Example: A trial about environmental issues, for example, an area where the soil and water is contaminated and the people in the area did not know about it; they want money for money for damage to their families. Civil case: A lawsuit that is brought to enforce a right or to redress a wrong, rather than a court action involving the government trying to prosecute a criminal; in general, a lawsuit brought by one person against another. Example: Coal miners trying to get benefits for black lung disease that bring suit against the companies they work for. Civil jury: A group of persons selected by law and sworn in to consider certain facts and determine the truth; they determine which side wins. Example: People in trial that determines which side wins; for example, a chemical plant verses sick citizens in that area. Contract: A mutual agreement or legal relationship between two or more parties; must be of legal age (18) and of sound mind. Example: Public law 566; when someone signs up for a government funded project; Copper creek for example in Scott county.

Criminal charge: The specific statement of what crime the party is accused (charged with) contained in the indictment or criminal complaint; this person has committed an illegal act. Example: Any person who negligently introduces into a sewer system or into a publicly owned treatment works any pollutant or hazardous substance which such person knew or reasonably should have known could cause personal injury or property damage or other than in compliance with all applicable Federal, State, or local requirements or permits, which causes such treatment works. Docket: A formal abridged record of the proceedings in a legal action; cases on a court calendar or stating what action was taken that day. Example: The public has the opportunity to comment on EPA's proposed addition of sites to superfund; EPA publishes notices in the Federal Register, listing which sites are being proposed, the documents that form the basis for site listing are made available in dockets located at EPA headquarters in Arlington, Virginia and in regional office of the proposed site. Fine: A penalty paid to an injured party in a civil action. Example: $100.00 fine for littering. General District court: A trial court that has jurisdiction over certain cases within a specific judicial district. Example: Someone that kept working after a stop work statement had been sent to them because they were not in compliance with the erosion and sediment control rules. Grand jury: A group of persons selected by law and sworn in to consider certain facts and determine the truth; persons who receive complaints and accusations of crime, hear preliminary evidence on the complaining side, and make the formal accusation or indictments. Example 1: In September 1988, Ashland Oil company was indicted by a federal grand jury for negligently discharging oil into Monongahela river in violation of section 311(b)(3) of the Clean Water Act. Example 2: The grand jury heard of a federal case in wrong doing of a mines in violation of safety standards. The grand jury may be used in violation of the Clean Air Act where the wrong doing is excessive. Increasing integrity of laws: People in general are beginning to learn or have a better understanding of the laws. Example: Farmers that have signed up for monies that the state gets for programs through the soil conservation office to improve their farms environmentally. Jurisdiction: Refers to a courts authority to judge over a situation usually acquired in one of three ways: over acts committed in a defined territory, over certain types of cases, or over certain persons. Example: Defendants that claim that they did not need a permit because they were discharging pollutants into waters which were not within the federal jurisdiction. Last chance doctrine: This doctrine permits a plaintiff in a negligence action to recover no withstanding his own negligence on a showing that the defendant had the last clear chance to avoid the accident.

Law enforcement: Any person, officer or governmental official, who works to prevent crime or to enforce criminal laws. Example: 300 g - 3 Public water systems - Notice to state and public water system; issuance of administrative order; civil action. Laws from Code of Federal Regulations: Annual collection of the executive agencies regulations; Title 40 Protection of Environment. Example: Part 1502 - EIS (Environmental Impact Statement). Legal responsibility: Moral, legal, or mental accountability made effective by a court of law as distinguished from a court of equity. Example: Health inspectors that check restaurants. Make up of jury: People chosen for a jury trial. Example: That are not involved with the case. Power of attorney: A written document signed by a person giving another person the power to act in conducting the signers business, including signing papers, checks, titles, documents, and contracts; power of attorney may expire on a date stated in the document. Example: A son signing paper work for the tobacco settlement on the land of his sick and elderly mother that is bed ridden at her home. Professional witness: Conforming to the technical or ethical standards of giving evidence. Example: Toxicologist to give testimony/evidence at a trial having to do with water pollution. Removal of Contempt: Taking away the position of a public official for cause, such as dishonesty, incompetence, conviction of a crime or successful impeachment; willful disregard or disobedience of a public authority. Example 1: The removal of a judge that took bribes (from the plant) in a case dealing with a uranium plant verses citizens of that town. Example 2: A person who does not show up for court because they were not served with notice, may have the removal of contempt that was placed on them. In order to remove a contempt, the defendant plead that he had no evil intention. Right of assembly: An entitlement to something, whether to concepts like justice and due process or to ownership of property or some interest in property, real or personal; these rights include: such United States constitutional guarantees as the right to freedoms of speech, press, religion, assembly and petition. Example: Watershed Strategic planning meetings so that people can discuss problems and issues of the water in their areas. Rules for gathering evidence: By law, legally obtained; logical, reasonable; the rule shall be construed to secure fairness in administration, elimination of unjustifiable expense in delay and promotion in growth and development of the evidence to the end that truth may be ascertained in proceedings justly determined. Example: To prove someone is dumping trash off the side of a bank into a stream, you must have someone with you to witness it when the act is being done.

Violation of rights: Act of irreverence or desecration (civil law). Example: Many lawyers are now using allegations of environmental racism due to large dollar verdicts; the suit seek compensation for personal injuries and property damages. When an act is criminal or okay: Intent is what makes an act criminal. Example: Fishing in a pond that has a "No Fishing" sign and the person does not see the sign.

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