Glossary of Legal Terms – D


From “Damages” to “Due process of law”

Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful actor negligence of another person.

One who owes a debt to another; a person filing for relief under theBankruptcy Code.

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.

An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. (See interlocutory.)

That which tends to injure a person’s reputation. (See libel and slander.)

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.

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.

Incomplete; defective; not sufficient in quantity or force.

A corporation no longer operative; having ceased to exist.

The jury’s decision-making process after hearing the evidence and closing arguments and being given the court’s instructions.

The commission of an illegal act by a juvenile.

A pleading filed by the defendant that the complaint as filed is not sufficient to require an answer.

One who derives existence and support from another.

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.

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.

Form of discipline of a lawyer resulting in the loss (often permanently) of that lawyer’s right to practice law.

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.

To refuse a gift made in a will.

The name given pretrial devices for obtaining facts and information about the case.

The termination of a lawsuit.

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.

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.

The termination; process of dissolving or winding up something.

The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.

Diversity of citizenship
The condition when the party on one side of a lawsuit is a citizen of one state and the other party is a citizen of another state; such cases are under the jurisdiction of federal courts.

An abstract or listing of all pleadings filed in a case; the book containing such entries; trial docket is a list of or calendar of cases to be tried in a certain term.

Docket control
A system for keeping track of deadlines and court dates for both litigation and non-litigation matters.

The place where a person has his permanent home to which he intends to return.

Double jeopardy
Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Due process of law
The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.


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