Presumption of law A rule of law that courts and judges shall draw a particular inference from a particular fact, or from particular evidence.
Pretermitted child A child born after a will is executed, who is not provided for by the will. Most states have laws that provide for a share of estate property to go to such children.
Pretrial conference Conference among the opposing attorneys and the judge called at the discretion of the court to narrow the issues to be tried and to make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
Prima facie case A case that is sufficient and has the minimum amount of evidence necessary to allow it to continue in the judicial process.
Primary authority Constitutions, codes, statutes, ordinances, and case law sources.
Private law That law, such as a contract between two persons or a real estate transaction, which applies only to the persons who subject themselves to it.
Privilege A benefit or advantage to certain persons beyond the advantages of other persons, i.e., an exemption, immunity, power, etc.
Pro se For himself; in his own behalf. One who does not retain a lawyer and appears for himself in court.
Probable cause A reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the basis for all lawful searches, seizures, and arrests.
Probate Court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid. Term used to mean all proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates such as the process by which assets are gathered; applied to pay debts, taxes, and expenses of administration; and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the will. Conducted in states courts.
Probate court The court with authority to supervise estate administration.
Probate estate Estate property that may be disposed of by a will.
Probation An alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer. A violation of probation can lead to its revocation and to imprisonment.
Product liability Legal responsibility of manufacturers and sellers to buyers, users, and bystanders for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods.
Promisee An individual to whom a promise is made.
Promisor An individual who makes a promise.
Promissory estoppel A promise which estops the promisee from asserting or taking certain action.
Property tax A tax levied on land and buildings (real estate) and on personal property.
Proprietor Owner; person who has legal right or title to anything.
Prosecutor A trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interests of the state in civil matters. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has the responsibility of deciding who and when to prosecute.
Proximate cause The last negligent act which contributes to an injury. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.
Proxy The instrument authorizing one person to represent, act, and vote for another at a shareholders’ meeting of a corporation.
Public law That law such as traffic ordinances or zoning ordinances which applies to the public.
Public defender Government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of a crime.
Public Service Commission Also, Public Utilities Commission. A state agency which regulates utilities.
Punitive damages Money award given to punish the defendant or wrongdoer.
Purchase agreement or purchase offer Also, sales agreement and earnest money contract. Agreement between buyer and seller of property which sets forth in general the price and terms of a proposed sale.
Putative Alleged; supposed; reputed.
Quantum meruit Expression means “as much as he deserves,” and describes the extent of liability on a contract implied by law.
Quid pro quo What for what; something for something; giving one valuable thin for another. Quash To vacate or void a summons, subpoena, etc.
Quasicontract An obligation created by the law in the absence of an agreement or contract; not based upon the intentions or expressions of the parties. Quasicriminal action A classification of actions such as violation of a city ordinance that is not also violation of a criminal statute, which are wrongs against the public punishable through fines but are not usually indictable offenses.
Quiet title action A court proceeding to remove a cloud on the title to real property.
Quitclaim deed A deed without warranty of title which passes whatever title the grantor has to another.
Ratification The confirmation or adoption of a previous act done either by the party himself or by another.
Ratio decidendi The ground or reason of the decision in a case.
Real property Land, buildings, and whatever is attached or affixed to the land. Generally synonymous with the words “real estate.”
Reasonable doubt An accused person is entitled to acquittal if, in the minds of the jury, his or her guilt has not been proved beyond a “reasonable doubt;” that state of minds of jurors in which they cannot say they feel an abiding conviction as to the truth of the charge.
Reasonable person A phrase used to denote a hypothetical person who exercises qualities of attention, knowledge; intelligence, and judgment that society requires of its members for the protection of their own interest and the interests of others. Thus, the test of negligence is based on either a failure to do something that a reasonable person, guided by considerations that ordinarily regulate conduct, would do, or on the doing of something that a reasonable and prudent (wise) person would not do.