On a person’s own recognizance Release of a person from custody without the payment of any bail or posting of bond, upon the promise to return to court.
Opening statement The initial statement made by attorneys for each side, outlining the facts each intends to establish during the trial.
Opinion A judge’s written explanation of a decision of the court or of a majority of judges. A dissenting opinion disagrees with the majority opinion because of the reasoning and/or the principles of law on which the decision is based. A concurring opinion agrees with the decision of the court but offers further comment. (A per curiam opinion is an unsigned opinion “of the court.”)
Oral argument Presentation of a case before a court by spoken argument; usually with respect to a presentation of a case to an appellate court where a time limit might be set for oral argument.
Order A mandate, command, or direction authoritatively given. Direction of a court or judge made in writing.
Ordinance A rule established by authority; may be a municipal statute of a city council, regulating such matters as zoning, building, safety, matters of municipality, etc.
Overrule A judge’s decision not to allow an objection. Also, a decision by a higher court finding that a lower court decision was in error.
Paperbound supplement A temporary supplement to a book or books to update the serve.
Paralegal Also, legal assistant. A person with legal skills who works under the supervision of a lawyer.
Pardon An act of grace from governing power which mitigates punishment and restores rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense.
Parol evidence Oral or verbal evidence; evidence given by word of mouth in court.
Parole Supervised release of a prisoner from imprisonment on certain prescribed conditions which entitle him to termination of his sentence.
Party A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution of defense of a legal proceeding.
Patent A grant to an inventor of the right to exclude others for a limited time from make, using, or selling his invention in the United States.
Patent and Trademark Office The federal agency which examines and issues patents and registers trademarks.
Peremptory challenge Request by a party that a judge not allow a certain prospective juror as a member of the jury. No reason or cause need be stated.
Periodical A publication which appears regularly but less often than daily.
Perjury The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.
Permanent injunction A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
Per se doctrine Under this doctrine an activity such as price fixing can be declared as a violation of the antitrust laws without necessity of a court inquiring into the reasonableness of the activity.
Personal property Anything a person owns other than real estate.
Personal recognizance In criminal proceedings, the pretrial release of a defendant without bail upon his or her promise to return to court.
Personal representative The person who administers an estate. If named in a will, that person’s title is an executor. If there is no valid will, that person’s title is an administrator.
Person in need of supervision Juvenile found to have committed a “status offense” rather than a crime that would provide a basis for a finding of delinquency.
Petit jury The ordinary jury of twelve (or fewer) persons for the trial of a civil or criminal case. So called to distinguish it from the grand jury.
Petitioner The person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court.
Plaintiff A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action.
Plea The first pleading by a criminal defendant, the defendant’s declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant’s answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
Plea bargaining Process where the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a satisfactory disposition of the case, usually by the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Such bargains are not binding on the court. Also referred to as plea negotiating.
Pleadings The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
Pocket parts Supplements to law books in pamphlet form which are inserted in a pocket inside the back cover of the books to keep them current.
Polling the jury The act, after a jury verdict has been announced, of asking jurors individually whether they agree with the verdict.
Posttrial Refers to items happening after the trial, i.e., posttrial motions or posttrial discovery.
Pourover will A will that leaves some or all estate assets to a trust established before the willmaker’s death.
Power Authority to do. One has the power to do something if he is of legal age. Also, used as “powers,” the term refers to authority granted by one person to another, i.e., powers given an executor in a will or an agent in a power of attorney.
Power of attorney An formal instrument authorizing another to act as one’s agent or attorney.
Precedent Laws established by previous cases which must be followed in cases involving identical circumstances.
Preinjunction Court order requiring action or forbidding action until a decision can be made whether to issue a permanent injunction. It differs from a temporary restraining order.
Preliminary hearing Also, preliminary examination. A hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial.
Preponderance of proof Greater weight of the evidence, the common standard of evidence in civil cases.
Presentence report A report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making his or her sentencing decision.
Presentment Declaration or document issued by a grand jury that either makes a neutral report or notes misdeeds by officials charged with specified public duties. It ordinarily does not include a formal charge of crime. A presentment differs from an indictment.