deposition- After a lawsuit is filed, the lawyer for either party may require the other party or independent witnesses to come to the lawyer's office and submit to a "deposition". The lawyer will ask the "deponent" questions about the case, which the deponent must answer. A court reporter will be present and write down all questions and answers. At trial, the lawyer might introduce the questions and answers into evidence, perhaps to show that a witness has changed his story from the story he told at the deposition.
discovery- After a lawsuit is filed, each party is allowed to obtain information in the possession of the opposing party. This process is called "discovery". Discovery devices include the deposition, requests for admission, written interrogatories, and a request for production of documents.
in pro per- Abbreviation of in propia persona, meaning representing yourself without a lawyer.
in propria persona- A party who sues or defends against a suit without a lawyer is acting "in propria persona".
interrogatories- After a lawsuit is filed, either party may seek to "discover" information from the other party. One of the discovery devices is "written interrogatories" which ask the other party certain questions that must be answered in writing and is under penalty of perjury These answers may be used against that party at trial.
law of the case- Upon the determination of a legal issue by the court that determination becomes binding throughout the life of the case.
opinion- The legal reasoning relied upon by the court in rendering a judgment or decision on the matter before the court. Appellate opinions which are published are considered to be law and will serve as legal precedent for future cases.
pendente lite - During the litigation. This term is generally used to describe an award of temporary support while the litigation is going on. A retirement plan that is set up by an employer for his employees.
preponderance of evidence - What the plaintiff's burden is in a personal injury claim. Generally, this means proof, by more than 50%, that the defendant was legally responsible for an injury.
rebuttal- The collection of evidence and argument offered in response to an opposing attorneys evidence and argument.
request for admissions- As part of the "discovery" process, either party to a lawsuit may serve on the other party written requests to admit certain facts, in order to save time at trial. Admissions will then be admitted into evidence at the trial.
request for production of documents- As part of the "discovery" process, either party to a lawsuit may serve on the other party a written request for production of specified documents, such as promissory notes and sales contracts.
ex parte- A legal proceeding in which only one side appears in court. Ex parte proceedings are usually allowed only where immediate action is necessary and there is not enough time to allow the other side to respond.
summary judgment- A motion during litigation and prior to trial, where one party asks the court to rule in its favor based upon facts which are undisputed.
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