Mock Trial Legal Terms

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Admissible
Used for evidence, it says whether or not it is credible or not, and if it will be useful in the decision of the court
Inadmissible
Evidence that is not used in a case because it is not credible, or it doesn't help towards the ending decision of the case
Plaintiff
The individual who files a lawsuit against the defendant, they file them with the clerk of the court
Defendant
The individual or group of individuals that are sued in a civil case, or the ones charged with a crime in a criminal case
Litigants
An individual involved in a lawsuit
Prosecutor
The U.S. government's attorney in a criminal case
Counsel
A group of officials (lawyer, attorney, attorney-at-law, counselor, counselor-at-law, solicitor, barrister, advocate or proctor) that are licensed to practice law, or give legal advice
Witness
An individual called to a trial that was present for the event that is being discussed, or they have expert knowledge that would be useful in the lawsuit
Bailiff
A court official, usually a sheriff, who keeps the courtroom safe and peaceful, and runs errands for the judge and clerk
Jury
A group of various citizens who are called to hear a court case, and decided whether the defendant is guilty or innocent, or who will be the winning party of a lawsuit
Court recorder
The individual in a courtroom that takes verbatim notes on speeches, conversations, legal proceedings, meetings, and other events that need to have a record kept of them
Pretrial conference
A court proceeding held at a party's request with the purpose of focusing on the issues so that a fair and efficient ruling will come out of the case
Plea
In a criminal case, this is the response from the accused defendant to each charge of the crime
Officer of the Court
Any person who has the privilege to promote the effective operation of the judicial system; these include: judges, attorneys, bailiffs, clerks, and others
Complaint
The first document filed with a court by a person claiming their legal rights were violated by another individual, and wish to have a court hearing where they can accuse the individual
Testimony
An oral argument given by a witness in response to questions asked to him/her by attorneys during a trial
Nolo contendere
"I will not contest"; these are pleas made by a defendant which will allow the judge to find him/her guilty/not guilty
Lien
An official claim made by an individual that charges property or funds for the payment of a debt
Perjury
The crime of intentionally lying under oath by a court or government official
Grand jury
a jury in a county or federal court district that serves for a term of a year and is usually selected from a group of nominees
Warrant
An order written by a court which directs a law enforcement officer to arrest and bring the person to the court
Service of process
the delivery of legal documents to the person whom they are directed towards
Arraignment
The initial appearance of a crime defendant in which all pre-trial actions are taken care of
Voir dire
"To see to speak"; the questioning of possible jurors by a judge and attorneys in a court
Peremptory challenge
the right of the plaintiff and the defendant to have a juror dismissed without giving a reason for it
Standard of Proof
The level of certainty necessary to establish proof in a criminal or civil case
Discovery
The effort of the party involved with a lawsuit and his/her attorneys to obtain information before a trial about the individual or group of individuals that they are accusing
Transcript
A written record of all actions taken in a courtroom, including the testimony, hearing, and attorney's arguments
Supervised release
A sentencing option where an individual can be released from containment, but be supervised by an officer when in his/her community
Pro se
"For himself"; a party in a lawsuit that represents him/herself
Indictment
a charge of a crime decided by a Grand Jury based upon a proposed charge, witnesses' testimony, and other evidence presented by the prosecutor
Subpoena
An order issued by a court to have a witness appear at a certain time and place to hear their testimony
Subpoena duces tecum
A court order requiring a witness to bring documents, that are in their possession, to the court at a certain time/place
De novo
"Anew"; To start over, and try the case again
Bail
the amount of money that can be paid to release a person, who has been charged with a crime, from containment
Damages
the amount of money that may be given to the plaintiff (individual who files a lawsuit) in a civil trial, if the court decision is in their favor
Misdemeanor
a crime that is not very serious, and is punishable by a fine and/or county jail time for up to one year
Felony
A serious crime, that is punishable by death or a term in state or federal prison
Capital offense
Any criminal charge that may be punishable by the death penalty (capital: "head")
Burden of proof
the requirement that the plaintiff show by a "weight of evidence" that all the facts necessary to win a trial are presented and are probably true; In a criminal trial the burden of proof required of the prosecutor is to prove the guilt of the accused "beyond a reasonable doubt"
Motion
a formal request made to a judge
Litigation
A lawsuit used to decide the solution to a problem
Precedent
A prior court ruling used as a reference in other cases
Infraction
A violation of a law
Mens rea
the criminal's reasoning for committing an illegal act
Sequester
In major criminal trials, the witnesses and the jury are kept isolated from the media so they aren't influenced
Affidavit
When someone signs a legal document, promising that all their statements are true
Statute of limitations
A law that sets the time limit to wait when filing a lawsuit
Ex Parte
Anything granted to benefit one party of a trial
Objection
When the lawyer protests a question asked of the witness by the other lawyer
Sua sponte
A judge's order that is made without being requested by a party
Writ of habeas corpus
Used to bring a prisoner before a court to decide if there sentence is appropriate
In camera
discussions with the judge in the privacy of his office
Summary judgement
A court ruling that there are no issues left to be tried
Remand
To send a case to another court
Petty offense
A minor offense where having a jury isn't required
Exclusionary rule
Any evidence that was brought illegally into a trial isn't allowed to be used in the trial
Mistrial
When a trial ends even though it is not finished
Sentence
The punishment a criminal is given
Bench Trial
A trial decided by a judge rather than a jury
Hung Jury
When the jury can't come to a decision
Dismissal with prejudice
A case that is over and done with, once and for all, and can't ever be brought back to court
Dismissal without prejudice
A case that is dismissed, however, it can be brought back up and tried again
Accessory
Someone who helps commit a crime behind the scenes, but normally doesn't commit the actual crime itself
Sentencing
The punishment given to the defendant
Probation
A chance for a criminal to be free instead of being put in jail
Probation officer
Someone that supervises a person who was in jail but is now free
Reverse
When a court appeals a case and changes the original ruling
Uphold
defend or keep a principle or law, or to say that a decision that has already been made
Injunction
An order after a court hearing requiring someone to do or to not do something
Deposition
A recording of a witness's testimony
Hearsay
Second-hand evidence when the witness says what they have heard from others, not what they personally know
Judgement
The judge's decision on the case
Waiver of right
When you voluntarily give up a right
Procedure
The methods of the legal process, how the legal process works
Conviction
When the defendant is found guilty
Presentence report
A report prepared by the probation officer to help determine the sentence of the defendant
Expungement
To cancel the court records of the defendant
Concurrent sentence
When more than one sentence happens at the same time
Parole
After a criminal is released from jail, they must prove they will maintain good behavior