Corpus delicti The body (material substance) upon which a crime has been committee, e.g., the corpse of a murdered man or the charred remains of a house burned by an arsonist.
Corroborating evidence Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.
Costs An allowance for expenses in prosecuting or defending a suit. Ordinarily this does not include attorney fees.
Counsel A legal adviser; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.
Counterclaim A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff. In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.
Court A body in government to which the administration of justice is delegated.
Courtappointed attorney Attorney appointed by the court to represent a defendant, usually with respect to criminal charges and without the defendant having to pay for the representation.
Court costs The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorney fees. An amount of money may be awarded to the successful party (and may be recoverable from the losing party) as reimbursement for court costs.
Court of original jurisdiction A court where a matter is initiated and heard in the first instance; a trial court.
Court of record A court in which the proceedings are recorded, transcribed, and maintained as permanent records.
Court reporter A person who transcribes by shorthand or stenographically takes down testimony during court proceedings, a deposition, or other trialrelated proceeding.
Court rules Regulations governing practice and procedure in the various courts.
Creditor A person to whom a debt is owed by another.
Crime An act in violation of the penal laws of a state or the United States. A positive or negative act in violation of penal law.
Criminal justice system The network of courts and tribunals which deal with criminal law and its enforcement.
Criminal insanity Lack of mental capacity to do or abstain from doing a particular act; inability to distinguish right from wrong.
Criminal summons An order commanding an accused to appear in court.
Crossclaim A pleading which asserts a claim arising out of the same subject action as the original complaint against a coparty, i.e., one codefendant cross claims against another codefendant for contribution for any damages assessed against him.
Crossexamination The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.
Cumulative sentences Sentences for two or more crimes to run consecutively, rather than concurrently.
Custody Detaining of a person by lawful process or authority to assure his or her appearance to any hearing; the jailing or imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime.
Damages Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful actor negligence of another person.
Debtor One who owes a debt to another; a person filing for relief under theBankruptcy Code.
Decision The opinion of the court in concluding a case at law.
Declaratory judgment A statutory remedy for judicial determination of a controversy where plaintiff is in doubt about his legal rights.
Decree An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. (See interlocutory.) Defamation That which tends to injure a person’s reputation. (See libel and slander.)
Default Failure of the defendant to appear and answer the summons and complaint.
Default judgment A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the charges.
Defendant The person defending or denying a suit.
Defense of property Affirmative defense in criminal law or tort law where force was used to protect one’s property.
Deficient Incomplete; defective; not sufficient in quantity or force.
Defunct A corporation no longer operative; having ceased to exist.
Deliberation The jury’s decisionmaking process after hearing the evidence and closing arguments and being given the court’s instructions.
Delinquency The commission of an illegal act by a juvenile.
Demurrer A pleading filed by the defendant that the complaint as filed is not sufficient to require an answer.
Dependent One who derives existence and support from another?
Deposition Testimony of a witness or a party taken under oath outside the courtroom, the transcript of which becomes a part of the court’s file.
Digest An index or compilation of abstracts of reported cases into one, set forth under proper law topic headings or titles and usually in alphabetical arrangement.
Direct evidence Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken.
Direct examination The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.
Directed verdict In a case in which the plaintiff has failed to present on the facts of his case proper evidence for jury consideration, the trial judge may order the entry of a verdict without allowing the jury to consider it.
Disbarment Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer’s right to practice law.
Discharge The name given to the bankruptcy court’s formal discharge of a debtor’s debts. In probate, the release of the estate’s representative from fiduciary responsibility.
Disclaim To refuse a gift made in a will.
Discovery The name given pretrial devices for obtaining facts and information about the case.
Dismissal The termination of a lawsuit.
Disposition The order of a juvenile court determining what is to be done with a minor already adjudged to be within the court’s jurisdiction. In criminal cases, the settlement of a case.
Dissent To disagree. An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.
Dissolution The termination; process of dissolving or winding up something.