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a fortiori

with stronger reason

a priori

from what goes before; from the cause to the effect

ab initio

from the beginning

actiones in personam

personal actions

ad curiam

before the court, to the court

ad damnum clause

to the damage, clause of complaint which states plaintiff's monetary loss

ad faciendum

to do

ad hoc

for this purpose, for this occasion

ad litem

for the suit; for the litigation

ad rem

to the thing at hand

ad valorem

according to the value (a type of tax, for example)


against (defendant vs. plaintiff)

aggregatio menium

meeting of minds (relates to formation of contracts)

alias dictus

otherwise called, also known as (as in an assumed name)


in another place, elsewhere


from another place, from without (as in evidence outside the document)

alter ego

the other self

amicus curiae

friend of the court (a type of brief filed with an appellate court)


with intention, disposition, design, will


mind, intention

ante litem motam

before suit brought, before litigation is filed


in the course of the argument, for the sake of argument


he undertook, he promised

bona fide

good faith


take, arrest


persons, heads

causa mortis

by reason of death


beware, a warning

caveat emptor

let the buyer beware


send the pleadings up (from an inferior court to a superior court)


beneficiaries (pronounced "setty")

cestui que trust

beneficiaries of the trust


in the area of, about, concerning

compos mentis

of sound mind


union of lots or chances; conjugal fellowship of husband and wife.



coram nobis

before us ourselves



corpus delicti

body of the offense; essence of the crime

cum testamento annexo

with the will annexed


a thing given; information; a date

de facto

in fact, in deed, actually

de jure

of right, lawful

de novo

anew, afresh

de son tort

of his own wrong

dies non

not a day

duces tecum

bring with you (a subpoena whereby a person must appear and bring records)

dum bene se gesserit

while he shall conduct himself, during good behavior

e converso

conversely, on the other hand

en banc

in the bench, all judges present

eo instanti

upon the instant



et alii

and others (as in Smith, et al. v. Jones)

et sequentia

and as follows (et. seq.)

et ux

and wife

et vir

and husband

ex delicto

arising from a tort

ex gratia

as a matter of favor

ex officio

from office, by virtue of his office

ex parte

one side only, by or for one party only

ex post facto

after the fact


in fact, in or by the law




let it be done, a short order that a thing be done


to be made up, to become

fieri facias

cause to be made (writ directing sheriff to reduce judgment debtor's property to money or sell it for the amount of the judgment).

flagrante delicto

in the very act of committing the crime

forum non conveniens

discretionary power of a court to decline jurisdiction over a case when the court believes it should be tried elsewhere for convenience of the parties and witnesses.


serious, of importance

habeas corpus

you have the body (writ directed to custodian of a person, commanding custodian to produce such person).

habendum clause

that part of deed which begins "to have and to hold"; defines extent of ownership.


honorary fee or gift; compensation from gratitude.


the same as above (id.)

idem sonans

having the same sound (as names sounding alike but spelled differently).

in curia

in court

in esse

in being, existence

in forma pauperis

permission given to a poor person to sue without liability for court costs


beneath; below

in limine

at the beginning; threshold

in loco parentis

in place of a parent, once charged with a parent's rights and obligations.

in pari delicto

in equal fault

in personam

personally, against the person

in praesenti

at once; now

in re

in the matter

in rem

proceedings against a thing (a bank account or real estate) distinguished from those against a person.

in specie

in the same or in similar form



inter alia

among other things, between other persons

inter se

among themselves

inter vivos

between the living, from one person to another

in toto

in the whole, completely

in transitu

in transit


within, inside

ipse dixit

he himself said it, as an assertion made but not proved

ipso facto

by the fact itself

ita est

so it is

jura personarum

right of a person, rights of persons

jura rerum

rights of things

jure divino

by divine right

jure uxoris

in his wife's right


law; right; laws collectively

jus ad rem

a right to a thing

jus commune

the common law, the common right

jus gentium

the law of nations, international law

just habendi

the right to have a thing

jus tertii

the right of a third party; the rights of another person

levari facias

cause to be levied, a writ of execution

lex loci

law of the place where the cause of action arose

lis pendens

litigation pending

locus delicti

the place of the crime or of the tort

locus sigilli

the place for the seal

mala fides

bad faith

mala in se

wrong in itself, an act which is morally wrong

mala praxis


mala prohibita

acts declared criminal by statute, though not wrong in themselves

malo animo

with evil intent


we command, a writ used to compel an official to perform an act which she is required to perform

manu forti

with a strong hand, forcible entry

mens rea

guilty mind, most crimes require the element of intent

nihil dicit

he says nothing, as in a default judgment against a defendant who does not raise a defense in the action


nothing; of no account

nil debet

he owes nothing

nisi prius

unless before (used to distinguish the court where trial was held from the appellate court)

nolle prosequi

unwilling to prosecute a crime, prosecutor's discretion not to file charges in a particular case

nolo contendere

I will not contest it

non assumpsit

plea in defense; that he did not promise

non compos mentis

not of sound mind

non est factum

it is not his deed

non obstante


non sequitur

it does not follow

nota bene (N.B.)

note well; take notice

nudum pactum

nude pact, bare agreement which lacks the consideration to form a valid contract

nul tort

no wrong done

nulla bona

no goods (wording used on the return of a writ fieri facias)

nunc pro tunc

now for then, as in an order to correct clerical error in a previous order

obiter dictum

remark which is not central to the main issue

onus probandi

the burden of proof


work or labor

ore tenus

by word of mouth, orally, as in an oral motion made during trial

pari delicto

in equal guilt

pari passu

by equal progress, ratably, equitably, without preference

pater familias

father of the family


private property



pendente lite

pending the suit, during litigation

per annum

annual, by the year

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