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Glossary of Legal Terms – R

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From “Ratification” to “Rules of evidence”

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.

Re-direct examination
portunity to present rebuttal evidence after one’s evidence has been subjected to cross-examination.

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.

Rebut
Evidence disproving other evidence previously given or reestablishing the credibility of challenged evidence.

Recidivism
The continued, habitual or compulsive commission of law violations after first having been convicted or prior offenses.

Recognizance
An obligation entered into before a court whereby the recognizor acknowledges that he will do a specific act required by law.

Record
All the documents and evidence plus transcripts of oral proceedings in a case.

Recuse
The process by which a judge is disqualified from hearing a case, on his or her own motion or upon the objection of either party.

Redress
To set right; to remedy; to compensate; to remove the causes of a grievance.

Referee
A person to whom the court refers a pending case to take testimony, hear the parties, and report back to the court. A referee is an officer with judicial powers who serves as an arm of the court.

Registered mark
Trademark with the words “Registered in the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office” or the letter “R” enclosed within a circle.

Rehearing
Another hearing of a civil or criminal case by the same court in which the case was originally heard.

Rejoinder
Opportunity for the side that opened the case to offer limited response to evidence presented during the rebuttal by the opposing side. (See rebut.)

Remand
To send a dispute back to the court where it was originally heard. Usually it is an appellate court that remands a case for proceedings in the trial court consistent with the appellate court’s ruling.

Remedy
Legal or judicial means by which a right or privilege is enforced or the violation of a right or privilege is prevented, redressed, or compensated.

Remittitur
The reduction by a judge of the damages awarded by a jury.

Removal
The transfer of a state case to federal court for trial; in civil cases, because the parties are from different states; in criminal and some civil cases, because there is a significant possibility that there could not be a fair trial in state court.

Replacement volumes
Volumes which replace books and their pocket parts when the pocket parts cause the books to become too bulky.

Replevin
An action for the recovery of a possession that has been wrongfully taken.

Reply
The response by a party to charges raised in a pleading by the other party.

Reporters
Books which contain court decisions.

Request for admission
Also, Request to Admit. Written statements of facts concerning a case which are submitted to an adverse party and which that party must admit or deny; a discovery device.

Request for production of documents
A direction or command served upon another party for production of specified documents for review with respect to a suit; a discovery devise.

Res ipsa loquitur
Literally, ” a thing that speaks for itself.” In tort law, the doctrine which holds a defendant guilty of negligence without an actual showing that he or she was negligent. Its use is limited in theory to cases in which the cause of the plaintiff’s injury was entirely under the control of the defendant, and the injury presumably could have been caused only by negligence.

Res judicata
A rule of civil law that once a matter has been litigated and final judgment has been rendered by the trial court, the matter cannot be relitigated by the parties in the same court, or any other trial court. A court will use res judicata to deny reconsideration of a matter.

Rescission
The unmaking or undoing of a contract; repeal.

Research
A careful hunting for facts or truth about a subject; inquiry; investigation.

Resolution
The formal adoption of a motion.

Respondeat superior
Literally, “a superior (or master) must answer.” The doctrine which holds that employers are responsible for the acts and omissions of their employees and agents, when done within the scope of the employees’ duties.

Respondent
The person against whom an appeal is taken.

Rest
A party is said to “rest” or “rest its case” when it has presented all the evidence it intends to offer.

Restatement
A publication which tells what the law is in a particular field, as compiled from statutes and decisions.

Restitution
Act of restoring anything to its rightful owner; the act of restoring someone to an economic position he enjoyed before he suffered a loss.

Retainer
Act of the client in employing the attorney or counsel, and also denotes the fee which the client pays when he or she retains the attorney to act for them.

Return
A report to a judge by police on the implementation of an arrest or search warrant. Also, a report to a judge in reply to a subpoena, civil or criminal.

Reverse
An action of a higher court in setting aside or revoking a lower court decision.

Reversible error
A procedural error during a trial or hearing sufficiently harmful to justify reversing the judgment of a lower court.

Revocable trust
A trust that the grantor may change or revoke.

Revoke
To cancel or nullify a legal document.

Right of way
The right of a party to pass over the land of another.

Robbery
Felonious taking of another’s property, from his or her person or immediate presence and against his or her will, by means of force or fear.

Robinson-Patman Act
An amendment to the Clayton Act which deals with price discrimination.

Rules
Established standards, guides, or regulations set up by authority.

Rules of evidence
Standards governing whether evidence in a civil or criminal case is admissible.