COMMON LEGAL DEFINITIONS

LEGAL

TERMS

Appeal 

To ask a higher court to reverse the decision of a trial court after final judgment or other legal ruling.

Arraignment

The hearing in which a person charged with a crime is arraigned in his or her first appearance before a judge. 

Articles of Incorporation 

The basic charter of a corporation which spells out the name, basic purpose, incorporators, amount and types of stock which may be issued, and any special characteristics such as being non-profit. 

Liability

Legal responsibility for one's acts or omissions.

Litigation

Any lawsuit or other resort to the courts to determine a legal question or matter.

Mediation

The attempt to settle a legal dispute through active participation of a third party (mediator) who works to find points of agreement and make those in conflict agree on a fair result.

Probate

A general term for the entire process of administration of estates of dead persons, including those without wills, with court supervision. 

Restitution

Returning to the proper owner property or the monetary value of loss. 

Service

The official delivery of legal documents ("service of process").

Subpoena

An order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness (if a "subpena duces tecum").

Summons

a document issued by the court at the time a lawsuit is filed, stating the name of both plaintiff and defendant, the title and file number of the case, the court and its address, the name and address of the plaintiff's attorney, and instructions as to the need to file a response to the complaint within a certain time.

Tort

From French for "wrong," a civil wrong or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, from which injury occurs to another.

Definitions provided by Law.com