The name of a writ having for its object to bring a person before a court.
An error committed during a trial that was corrected or was not serious enough to affect the outcome of a trial and therefore was not sufficiently harmful (prejudicial) to be reversed on appeal.
A brief summary of a legal rule or significant facts in a case, which along with other headnotes, precedes the printed opinion in reports.
A formal proceeding (generally less formal than a trial) with definite issues of law or of fact to be heard. Hearings are used extensively by legislative and administrative agencies.
Hearing de novo
A full new hearing.
Hearsay Statements by a witness who did not see or hear the incident in question but heard about it from someone else. Hearsay is usually not admissible as evidence in court.
Hostile witness A witness whose testimony is not favorable to the party who calls him or her as a witness. A hostile witness may be asked leading questions and may be crossexamined by the party who calls him or her to the stand.
Hung jury A jury whose members cannot agree upon a verdict.
Hypothetical question An imaginary situation, incorporating facts previously admitted into evidence, upon which an expert witness is permitted to give an opinion as to a condition resulting from the situation.
Immigrants Persons who come into a foreign country or region to live.
Immigration The entry of foreign persons into a country to live permanently.
Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) A federal agency which regulates immigration and naturalization of aliens. Immunity Grant by the court, which assures someone will not face prosecution in return for providing criminal evidence.
Impanel To seat a jury. When voir dire is finished and both sides have exercised their challenges, the jury is impanelled. The jurors are sworn in and the trial is ready to proceed.
Impeachment A criminal proceeding against a public official.
Impeachment of a witness An attack on the credibility (believability) of a witness, through evidence introduced for that purpose.
Implied contract A contract not created or evidenced by the explicit agreement of the parties but one inferred by law; as the use of electric power in your home implies a contract with the light company.
In loco parentis “In the place of the parent”; refers to actions of a custodian, guardian or other person acting in the parent’s place.
Inadmissible That which, under the rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received as evidence.
Incapacity Lack of legal ability to act; disability, incompetence; lack of adequate power.
Incarceration Imprisonment in a jail or penitentiary.
Incompetent One who lacks ability, legal qualification, or fitness to manage his own affairs.
Independent executor A special kind of executor, permitted by the laws of certain states, who performs the duties of an executor without intervention by the court.
Indeterminate sentence A sentence of imprisonment to a specified minimum and maximum period of time, specifically authorized by statute, subject to termination by a parole board or other authorized agency after the prisoner has served the minimum term.
Indictment A written accusation by a grand jury charging a person with a crime.
Indigent Needy or impoverished. A defendant who can demonstrate his or her indigence to the court may be assigned a courtappointed attorney at public expense.
Initial appearance The defendant comes before a judge within hours of the arrest to determine whether or not there is probable cause for his or her arrest.
Information Accusatory document, filed by the prosecutor, detailing the charges against the defendant. An alternative to an indictment, it serves to bring a defendant to trial.
Infraction A violation of law not punishable by imprisonment. Minor traffic offenses generally are considered infractions.
Inheritance tax A state tax on property that an heir or beneficiary under a will receives from a deceased person’s estate. The heir or beneficiary pays this tax.
Injunction A prohibitive order or remedy issued by the court at the suit of the complaining party, which forbids the defendant to do some act which he is threatening or attempting to do. Conversely, it may require him to perform an act which he is obligated to perform but refuses to do.
Insolvent When the total debt of an entity is greater than all of its property.
Instructions Judge’s explanation to the jury before it begins deliberations of the question it must answer and the applicable law governing the case. (Also referred to as charge.)
Intangible assets Nonphysical items such as stock certificates, bonds, bank accounts, and pension benefits that have value and must be taken into account in estate planning.
Intentional tort Wrong perpetrated by one who intends to break the law.
Interlocutory Temporary; provisional; interim; not final.
Internal Revenue Service (IRS) The federal agency which administers the tax laws of the United States.
Interrogatories A set or series of written questions propounded to a party, witness, or other person having information or interest in a case; a discovery device.
Intervention An action by which a third person who may be affected by a lawsuit is permitted to become a party to the suit.
Intestate The status of a person who dies without leaving a will.
Intestate succession A succession of property when the deceased has left no will, or when the will has been revoked.
Involuntary bankruptcy A proceeding initiated by creditors requesting the bankruptcy court to place a debtor in liquidation.
Issue 1. The disputed pint in a disagreement between parties in a lawsuit. 2. To send out officially, as in to issue an order.
Joint and several liability A legal doctrine that mhusbandakes each of the parties who are responsible for an injury, liable for all the damages awarded in a lawsuit if the other parties responsible cannot pay.
Joint tenancy A form of legal coownership of property (also known as survivorship). At the death of one coowner, the surviving coowner becomes sole owner of the property. Tenancy by the entirety is a special form of joint tenancy between a and wife.
Judge A presiding officer of the court.
Judgment The official and authentic decision of a court of justice upon the rights and claims of parties to an action or suit submitted to the court for determination.
Judgment debtor One who owes money as a result of a judgment in favor of a creditor.