Minor A person under the age of legal competence.
Minute book A book maintained by the courtroom deputy (bailiff), which contains minute entries of all hearings and trial conducted by the judge.
Minute’s Memorandum of a transaction or proceeding.
Miranda warning Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they question him or her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona ruling by the United States Supreme Court.
Misdemeanor A criminal offense lesser than a felony and generally punishable by fine or by imprisonment other than in a penitentiary.
Misfeasance Improper performance of an act which a person might lawfully do.
Mistrial An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again from the selection of the jury.
Mitigating circumstances Those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offense but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.
Mittimus The name of an order in writing, issuing from a court and directing the sheriff or other officer to convey a person to a prison, asylum, or reformatory, and directing the jailer or other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person until his or her fate shall be determined by due course of law.
Mitigation A reduction, abatement, or diminution of a penalty or punishment imposed by law.
Moot A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court’s refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court’s decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court’s decision.
Motion An application made to a court or judge which requests a ruling or order in favor of the applicant.
Motion in Limine A motion made by counsel requesting that information which might be prejudicial not be allowed to be heard in a case.
Murder The unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill: (1) murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; (2) murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not.
Mutual assent A meeting of the minds; agreement.
National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) A federal agency which prevents and remedies unfair labor practices by employers and labor organizations
Naturalization Process by which a person acquires nationality after birth and becomes entitled to privileges of citizenship.
Negligence Failure to use care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under similar circumstances.
Negotiation The process of submission and consideration of offers until an acceptable offer is made and accepted.
Next friend One acting without formal appointment as guardian for the benefit of an infant, a person of unsound mind not judicially declared incompetent, or other person under some disability.
No Bill This phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the written indictment submitted to it for its approval, means that the evidence was found insufficient to indict.
Nocontest Clause Language in a will that provides that a person who makes a legal challenge to the will’s validity will be disinherited.
Nofault Proceedings A civil case in which parties may resolve their dispute without a formal finding of error or fault.
Nolo contendere A Latin phrase meaning “I will not contest it.” A plea in a criminal case which does not require the defendant to admit guilt, but the defendant does not contest the facts on which the charge is based. Some judges refuse to accept such pleas in criminal cases.
Non compos mentis Not of sound mind; insane.
Nonfeasance Nonperformance of an act which should be performed; omission to perform a required duty or total neglect of duty.
Nonjury trial Trial before the court but without a jury.
Not guilty plea Complete denial of guilt. In criminal cases, a necessary stage of the proceedings required to preserve all legal issues.
Not guilty by reason of insanity The jury or the judge must determine that the defendant, because of mental disease or defect, could not form the intent required to commit the offense.
Notary Public A public officer whose function it is to administer oaths, to attest and certify documents, and to take acknowledgments.
Notice Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.
Notice to creditors A notice given by the bankruptcy court to all creditors of a meeting of creditors.
Nuncupative will An oral (unwritten) will.
Oath A solemn pledge made under a sense of responsibility in attestation of the truth of a statement or in verification of a statement made.
Objection The process by which one party takes exception to some statement or procedure. An objection is either sustained (allowed) or overruled by the judge.
Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) A federal law designed to develop and promote occupational safety and health standards.
Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission The agency established by OSHA to adjudicate enforcement actions under the Act.
Of counsel A phrase commonly applied to counsel employed to assist in the preparation or management of the case, or its presentation on appeal, but who is not the principal attorney for the party.
Official reports The publication of cumulated court decisions of state or federal courts in advance sheets and bound volumes as provided by statutory authority.