admission of evidence- The judge's order to accept evidence at trial. The admission of evidence is then considered officially in the case and the jury can then weigh its value.
district court- The federal trial court where federal crimes are tried. District courts are exclusively for federal jurisdiction matters.
gag order- A court or executive order prohibiting attorneys or anyone working on behalf of the attorneys in a pending criminal or, civil matter from communicating their thoughts or impressions about their case to the media or to the public at large. The goal is to prevent pretrial prejudice from contaminating the jury. Most constitutional scholars believe that the First Amendment should limit the court's ability to restrict the media from broadcasting information about the case.
hearsay- In a judicial proceeding, a witness cannot testify as to what another person says outside of court. A classic example of hearsay is when a witness testifies that he heard someone say on the street that the defendant loves to beat his wife. This out of court statement is unsubstantiated and therefore excluded from evidence under the hearsay rule. It should be noted that there are many exceptions to this rule.
judgment- The decision of a court that determines the rights of the parties to a dispute.
moral certainty- Usually referred to that standard of proof requiring the prosecutor to prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. Moral certainty stresses the meaning of "beyond a reasonable doubt."
municipal court- A lower state court with jurisdiction over criminal misdemeanors. In many states a felony criminal filing will first be filed in municipal court and then subsequent to indictment be transferred to superior court for felony arraignment. Misdemeanors remain in municipal court through trial.
offender- This term is usually used by the prosecution to describe the accused in a criminal proceeding.
pain and suffering- An element of general damages which allows for monetary compensation for one's pain, suffering, and emotional distress.
perjury- The unlawful and intentional falsification of one's testimony while under oath to tell the truth. Perjury can occur in court, administrative hearings, depositions, and even the formal acknowledgment of a written legal document such as an affidavit signed under declaration of perjury.
reasonable doubt- The most crucial element to the prosecutor's burden of proof. The prosecutor must prove the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral certainty. Ultimately the jury must be convinced of the defendants guilt without material doubt. However the doubt must be reasonable, not created by a clever and skilled lawyer.
Small Claims Court- The trial court for cases with relatively modest sums in dispute. Attorneys are not allowed to appear in small claims court.
Superior Court- The name used to describe a county trial court.
remand- A high court's review of a lower courts decision on a matter such that it results in the case being sent back to the trial court for purposes of correcting a legal deficiency or because the high court did not have proper jurisdiction to hear the matter.
venue- The proper court or venue in a criminal case is the judicial district or county in which the crime was committed. In certain criminal matters where the crime received substantial publicity, the defense lawyer may motion the court for a change in venue. The motion is based on the argument that the defendant could not receive a fair trial in the county in which the crime took place because jurors have been exposed to the pretrial publicity and therefore predisposed to decide the case before hearing any of the evidence.
in forma pauperis- Person who is unable to pay court filing fees might be allowed to proceed "in forma pauperis", if the judge allows this. The party should ask the clerk of the court for forms that he may submit to show his lack of funds.
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