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Glossary of Legal Terms – E

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From “Elements of a crime” to “Extraordinary writ”

Elements of a crime
Specific factors that define a crime which the prosecution must prove beyond a reasonable doubt in order to obtain a conviction: (1) that a crime has actually occurred, (2) that the accused intended the crime to happen, and (3) a timely relationship between the first two factors.

Embezzlement
The fraudulent appropriation by a person to his own use or benefit or property or money entrusted to him by another.

Eminent Domain
The power of the government to take private property for public use through condemnation.

En Banc
All the judges of a court sitting together. Appellate courts can consist of a dozen or more judges, but often they hear cases in panels of three judges. If a case is heard or reheard by the full court, it is heard en banc.

Encyclopedia
A book or series of books arranged alphabetically by topics containing information on areas of law, including citations to support the information.

Enjoin
To order a person to perform, or to abstain and desist from performing a specified act or course of conduct. See injunction. Entity

Entrapment
The act of inducing a person to commit a crime so that a criminal charge will be brought against him.

Entry
A statement of conclusion reached by the court and placed in the court record.

Environment
The conditions, influences, or forces which affect the desirability and value of property, as well as the effect on people’s lives.

Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)
A federal agency created to permit coordinated and environment effective governmental action to preserve the quality of the environment.

Equal Protection of the Law
The guarantee in the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that all persons be treated equally by the law.

Equitable action
An action which may be brought for the purpose of restraining the threatened infliction of wrongs or injuries, and the prevention of threatened illegal action. Equity

Equity, courts of
Courts which administer a legal remedy according to the system of equity, as distinguished from courts of common law.

Escheat
The process by which a deceased person’s property goes to the state if no heir can be found.

Escrow
Money or a written instrument such as a deed that, by agreement between two parties, is held by a neutral third party (held in escrow) until all conditions of the agreement are met.

Esquire
In the United States the title commonly appended after the name of an attorney. In English law a title of dignity next above gentleman and below knight. Title also given to barristers at law and others. Abbreviated: Esq.

Estate
A person’s property.

Estate tax
Generally, a tax on the privilege of transferring property to others after a person’s death. In addition to federal estate taxes, many states have their own estate taxes.

Estoppel
An impediment that prevents a person from asserting or doing something contrary to his own previous assertion or act.

Et al
An abbreviation of the Latin et alii, meaning “and others,” ordinarily used in lieu of listing all names of persons involved in a proceeding. Et seq

Ethics
Of or relating to moral action and conduct; professionally right; conforming to professional standards.

Evidence
Information presented in testimony or in documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other.

Ex contractu
Arising from a contract. Ex delicto

Ex parte
On behalf of only one party, without notice to any other party. For example, a request for a search warrant is an ex parte proceeding, since the person subject to the search is not notified of the proceeding and is not present at the hearing.

Ex post facto
After the fact, ordinarily used in reference to constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws. For example, a person cannot be punished for conduct committed before a criminal law was enacted.

Exceptions
Declarations by either side in a civil or criminal case reserving the right to appeal a judge’s ruling upon a motion. Also, in regulatory cases, objections by either side to points made by the other side or to rulings by the agency or one of its hearing officers.

Exclusion of witnesses
An order of the court requiring all witnesses to remain outside the courtroom until each is called to testify, except the plaintiff or defendant. The witnesses are ordered not to discuss their testimony with each other and may be held in contempt if they violate the order.

Exclusionary Rule
The rule preventing illegally obtained evidence to be used in any trial.

Execute
To complete; to sign; to carry out according to its terms.

Executor
A personal representative, named in a will, who administers an estate.

Exempt property
All the property of a debtor which is not attachable under the Bankruptcy Code or the state statute.

Exhibit
A document or other item introduced as evidence during a trial or hearing.

Exonerate
Removal of a charge, responsibility, or duty.

Expert testimony
Testimony given in relation to some scientific, technical or professional matter by experts, i.e., person qualified to speak authoritatively by reason of their special training, skill or familiarity with the subject.

Expungement
The process by which the record of criminal conviction is destroyed or sealed.

Extradition
The surrender of an accused criminal by one state to the jurisdiction of another.

Extraordinary writ
A writ, often issued by an appellate court, making available remedies not regularly within the powers of lower courts. They include writs of habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition and quo warranto