People in the law enforcement profession are familiar with the terminology. But the everyday person may not be says, William D King.
Here’s a quick guide to some of the most common (and sometimes confusing) phrases in the legal profession:
1. Habeas corpus (‘you should have the body’ in Latin).
A writ is used by a prisoner to bring a case before a court to determine whether the prisoner is being lawfully held.
2. Corpus delicti (‘body of the crime’).
The principle is that a criminal conviction requires proof of more than the defendant’s confession alone.
3. Res ipsa loquitur (‘the thing speaks for itself).
A legal doctrine holds that in certain cases the facts surrounding an accident or injury are so peculiar and extraordinary that they can only be explained as negligence on the part of the person responsible.
4. Stare decisis (‘to stand by things decided).
The principle is that courts should follow precedent, or earlier judicial decisions, in matters of law.
5. Prima facie (‘at first sight’).
A Latin term means that a party has met the minimal burden of proof and that the case should be taken further for a full examination.
6. Ad litem (‘for the lawsuit’).
Refers to someone who is appointed by a court to represent a party in a legal proceeding who is not otherwise represented.
7. Res judicata (‘a thing adjudicated’).
A term used in law to describe the principle that once a matter has been finally decided by a court of competent jurisdiction, it cannot be relitigated between the same parties explains William D King.
8. Certiorari (‘to be informed’).
A writ issued by a higher court to a lower court, requesting all the records pertaining to a particular case so that the higher court can determine whether it should hear the case.
9. Obiter dicta (‘things said by the way).
Latin for “by the way,” this term refers to comments made by a judge in a legal opinion that are not necessary to the ruling and therefore not binding as law.
10. Moot (‘arguable’).
A moot point is one that is not relevant because it has already been decided or because it is hypothetical and cannot be resolved.
11. Forum non conveniens (‘inconvenient forum’).
A doctrine that allows a court to decline jurisdiction over a case when another tribunal, usually one in another country, would be more appropriate based on factors such as convenience and fairness.
12. Qui tam (‘he who sues in this matter’).
Latin for “who sues on behalf of the king,” this term is used in the context of False Claims Act cases to describe the person who brings a lawsuit on the government’s behalf says, William D King.
13. Actus reus (‘criminal act’).
The physical component of a crime, as opposed to the mental state required for criminal liability (men’s rea).
14. Men’s rea (‘criminal intent’).
The mental state is required to prove that a criminal act or offense was committed.
15. Res gestae (‘things done).
Refers to the circumstances surrounding a crime, which can be submitted as evidence in criminal proceedings, without being called as witnesses during trial.
16. Corpus delicti (‘body of the crime’).
The principle is that a criminal conviction requires proof of more than the defendant’s confession alone. This phrase comes directly from Latin and means “the substance of the crime.”
17. Certiorari (‘to be informed’).
A writ issued by a higher court to a lower court, requesting all the records pertaining to a particular case so that the higher court can determine whether it should hear the case. In Latin, this term means “to be more fully informed.”
18. habeas corpus (‘you shall have the body).
A writ of habeas corpus is a legal order issued by a court that requires a person who is being held in custody to be brought before the court so that it can determine whether the person’s detention is lawful.
19. ex parte (‘on behalf of one party only).
Refers to proceedings in which one side presents its case without the other being present.
20. Stare decisis (‘to stand by things decided).
The principle is that courts should follow precedent, or earlier judicial decisions, in matters of law. This phrase comes directly from Latin and means “to stand by things decided.”
Legal terminology can be confusing, but with a little bit of understanding, it’s not too difficult to get through most cases. Familiarize yourself with these ten terms, and you’ll be on your way to understanding what’s happening in the courtroom!
So, those are the ten most important legal terms to know explains William D King. Familiarize yourself with them, and you’ll be on your way to understanding the court proceedings! Remember, these are just a few of the many legal terms that you may encounter, so don’t stop here – keep learning and expanding your legal vocabulary!