Business Law Principles and Practices: Chapter 5

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Litigation

a lawsuit

Judgment Proof

unable to pay even if you win the case

Contingency Fee

a percentage for money damages collected

Complaint

document listing the details of a lawsuit being filed and the relief sought

Summons

Written notification to the defendant that a lawsuit has been filed (states the parties names, the cause of action, the facts and circumstances, remedy being sought)

Plaintiff

one who begins a legal action (com"plain"tiff)

Defendant

party against whom criminal charges or a lawsuit is brought ("defend yourself against the plaintiff")

Answer

formal written statement by a defendant responding to a civil complaint/allegations and setting forth the grounds for defense

pleadings

the complaint and the answer taken together

allegations

claims

motion

request to a judge for a ruling on a point of law

summary judgment

motion for immediate judgment filed by either plaintiff or defendant, based on the information in the complaint and the answer

discovery

pretrial steps taken to learn the details of the case (This is encouraged so that both parties are prepared for trial and surprises are avoided. This ensures that potential testimony and other evidence are made available to both sides.)

interrogatories

series of written questions directed to the adversary in a civil trial who must answer by written replies made under oath (sworn statements, physical and mental examinations by doctors, request for production of documents, statements from doctors, statements of witnesses, etc.)

pretrial conference

hearing before a trial in which parties discuss the facts; may lead to settlement of the case (to see if it can be settled without a trial; normally includes a judge, opposing attorneys and parties involved)

settlement

an agreement between the parties to resolve the lawsuit without a trial

petit jurors

jurors for civil or criminal trial; summoned to the courthouse for jury duty; US citizens chosen at random

voir dire

"to speak the truth"; questioning of potential jurors by the judge and opposing attorneys to determine prior knowledge of the facts of the case and a willingness to decide the case only on the evidence presented in court; "examination" to determine potential jurors' qualifications and suitability to serve

removal for cause

dismissal of a prospective juror during the selection process because of the juror's inability to be impartial (might be a relative of someone involved in the case, has an interest in the outcome, is biased, etc.)

peremptory challenge

right of each attorney in a court case to dismiss a prospective juror arbitrarily; can dismiss a limited amount of jurors without giving a reason

evidence

information submitted in testimony that is used to persuade a judge and/or jury to decide the case for one side or the other; legal proof

direct examination

questioning a witness by the attorney who called the witness

subpoena

court order requiring testimony in a case

cross-examination

questioning a witness by the attorney who did not produce the witness; enables the opposing attorney to discover and bring to the attention of the jury and false or inconsistent statements that witnesses have made in their direct testimony

verdict

decision of a jury

judgment

official decision by a judge in a lawsuit tried without a jury

adjudication

judgment in a lawsuit; after the judgment is entered in the records, the case is then said to be decided or adjudicated

closing arguments

summarizing for the jury the testimony supporting their clients and arguing that they should win the case

preponderance of evidence

their evidence is more convincing than that presented by the opposing side

charges the jury

advises the juror of the rules of law that must be applied to the facts presented during the trial

arbitration

nonjudicial determination of a dispute by a third party rather than by a judge or jury; a complete substitute for a trial by judge or jury; parties submit their dispute to one or more impartial persons, called arbitrators, to render a binding decision after hearing arguments from the parties and their witnesses and reviewing evidence; normally used when parties have already tried to work together and cannot come to a mutually agreeable resolution (binding)

award

binding decision in an arbitration

mediation

intervention by a third person to settle a dispute between two parties; disputing parties meet with a neutral third person, called a mediator, who assists them in reaching a compromise solution; the parties have the power to determine their own outcome by reaching a mutually acceptable resolution (non binding)

mini-trials

lawyers from both sides present their case to a neutral adviser (usually a retired judge), and the plaintiff and defendant (generally officers of the corporation with decision-making powers) are both present; presentations may last a few days, exchange information, opposing lawyers will point out strengths and weaknesses, attorneys may produce witnesses and documents, plaintiff and defendant try to work out a solution (non-binding)

summary jury trial

used for cases that would normally be heard by a jury; lawyers present a summary to a "sample" jury of five or six people, jurors make decision based on information presented, attorneys then ask jurors why they reached their decision and then may negotiate to a settlement or go to court (non-binding)

private trial

"rent-a-judge" concept; disputing parties hire a retired judge with the power to enter legally binding judgment (binding)

negotiation

parties privately discuss the facts, questions, and demands under dispute and attempt to find a mutually satisfactory solution

opening statement

statements given to the judge and jury to give them an overall picture of the facts and issue sin the case and an idea of what each attorney intends to prove.

docket

calendar (the case might be placed on the docket/calendar

notice of appearance

a notice the acknowledges that the defendant has received the summons

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