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Glossary of Legal Terms

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36 HOUR RULE: The rule that requires a defendant arrested with a warrant be brought before a judge not later than 36 hours after arrest.  MINN.R.Crim.P.Rule 3.02.

48 HOUR RULE: The criminal rule that requires a probable cause determination be made within 48 hours of a warrantless arrest. Minn.R.Crim.P. Rule 4.03

A MENSA ET THORO (Latin): A divorce by which the parties are legally separated.  It is distinct from a divorce a vinculo which completely dissolves or breaks the bonds of matrimony.

A.K.A.: Used in captions, means “also known as.”

A.P.A.: Alcohol problem assessment.

AB INITIO (Latin, “from the beginning”): A transaction or document from its inception.  For example, an insurance policy may be held to be invalid ab initio or from the purported issuance of the policy.

ABANDONMENT: Leaving without intending to return.  This occurs when one spouse leaves another or tenant abandons his premise.

ABATEMENT (reduction or decrease): The pro­portionate reduction of a claim when the fund used for payment is insufficient to meet the full amount of the claim.  Also, the termination of a lawsuit due, for instance, to the death of a party.

ABET: To aid, help, or assist.

ABODE: Domicile.

ABSCOND: To hide away.

ABSCONDER: An offender who fails to report for probation, parole, or aftercare supervision, and whose whereabouts are unknown.

ABSTRACT OF TITLE: A summary of deeds and other documents comprising the history of a title to land.

ABSTRACT OF RECORD: A cumulative history in short, abbreviated form of the case as found in the record.

ACCESSORY: A person who assists in an illegal act.

ACCOMPLICE: A partner in an illegal act.

ACCORD AND SATISFACTION: An agreement between two or more persons which settles a disputed claim or lawsuit through the payment of some amount, or the performance of some action in satisfaction of the asserted claim.

ACCUSATION: Charging with an offense.

ACTION: Also called a lawsuit, suit, or case): A proceeding in a court of law by which one party sues another to secure the enforcement or protection of a right or the redress of a wrong.  Civil actions concern private rights and injuries.  A criminal action is taken to redress a public wrong.

ACQUITTAL: A release from an obligation when used in reference to contracts.  In criminal law, a person is acquitted if the charge against him\her is dismissed either through a verdict of acquittal or by some formal and conclusive legal procedure.

ADDITUR : The power of trial court to assess damages or increase the amount of an inadequate award made by jury verdict, as a condition of denial or motion for a new trial.

ADEMPTION: A cancellation of a legacy.  It occurs when an action of the testator is interpreted as an intentional revocation of the legacy.

ADJUDICATE: To settle by judicial authority.

ADJUDICATED: The term used in juvenile court to indicate that a juvenile has been found to have committed a delinquent act.

ADJUDICATION: Normally the pronouncement of the judgment or decree in a court case.  A judgment or a decision.  In bankruptcy proceedings, it refers to the court order declaring that the debtor is bankrupt.

ADMINISTRATIVE LAW: A branch of law governing procedure before various government agencies of the executive and legislative branch.

ADMINISTRATOR: In probate matters the person appointed by a court to settle an estate, usually when there is no will.  When it is a woman, the word “administratrix” is used.

ADMIT: (Juvenile Court) The equivalent of a guilty plea in adult court.

ADOPTION: A judicial proceeding which creates the legal relationship of parent and child.

ADULT COURT TRAFFIC OFFENSE: A petty misdemeanor traffic offense, or a DWI offense committed by a juvenile.  M.S. §260.193 subd. 3.

ADULTERY: Voluntary sexual intercourse of a married person with someone other than the offender's spouse.

ADVERSE POSSESSION: A means of acquiring the title to property through occupancy for a specified number of years.

ADVISE OF COUNSEL: Recommendation regarding a decision or course of conduct made by an attorney to their client.

ADVISEMENT: When a judge takes a matter 'under advisement' he/she privately reviews and considers the matter presented earlier in open court.  The purpose is to give the matter careful thought and thorough analysis.

AFFIANT: The person who makes an affidavit.

AFFIDAVIT:  A written statement of facts, given under oath, that is signed by a person with firsthand knowledge of the facts.  An affidavit must be notarized (signed in the presence of a notary public).  See Rules 56.05 through 56.07 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for more information.

AFFIRMATION: A solemn and formal declaration or statement that an affidavit is true, that the witness will tell the truth, etc.  This can be substituted for an oath in certain cases.

AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Facts that increase guilt or make consequences of a crime more severe.  The presence of aggravating circumstances justifies a more severe penalty.

AGGRIEVED: Used in conciliation court to describe a party dissatisfied with the decision, usually the losing party, who appeals the decision.

AIDER AND ABETTOR: One who assists another in a crime

ALFORD PLEA: A plea of guilty that may be accepted by a court even where the defendant does not admit guilt.  In an Alford plea, defendant has to admit that he has reviewed the state's evidence, a reasonable jury could find him guilty, and he wants to take advantage of a plea offer that has been made.  Court has discretion as to whether to accept this type of plea.

ALIAS: Any name used for an official purpose that is different from a person's legal name.

ALIBI: An explanation or excuse that shows defendant was at another place at the time a crime is committed, or could not have committed the crime.

ALIMONY: Support paid by one divorced spouse to the other.  Now called maintenance.

ALLEGE: To state, assert, or charge; to make an allegation.

ALTERNATE JUROR: A person who replaces a juror who can no longer serve.

AMC: Association of Minnesota Counties.

AMICUS CURIAE (LATIN, 'A FRIEND OF THE COURT’): A person who has no legal right to appear before the court in a certain proceeding, however, the court allows him/her to introduce evidence, argument, or authority because he/she has a collateral interest in the case.

ANCILLARY ADMINISTRATION: A probate administration in the state in which a non-resident decedent has property.

ANNUAL PERCENTAGE RATE: A term that describes the interest or cost, in percentage, of having credit.  The interest rate on judgments is set each year by the State Court Administrator.

ANNULMENT: Formal invalidation of a marriage by means of a court decree declaring that a marriage is a nullity from the beginning.

ANSWER: An answer is a response to the complaint which is served within 20 days of the receipt of the complaint and which includes a written statement of the defenses against the allegations brought by the plaintiff.  The answer may also include a cross claim or a counterclaim.  See Rules 7 through 15 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure.  It is a pleading, by which the defendant in a suit endeavors to resist the plaintiffs demand by alleging different facts, as distinguished from a demurrer which admits the facts but contends they are legally insufficient.

APPEAL: A request to take a case to a higher court for review.  A request by the prosecutor or defense for a reviewing court to reconsider certain issues in the case and to render a different decision.  The court of first resort for criminal and juvenile cases in the Minnesota Court of Appeals (except in first-degree murder cases).  After the court of appeals has ruled, a party dissatisfied with that decision may request that the Minnesota Supreme Court hear the case.  That decision is discretionary with the Court.

APPELLANT: The party appealing a decision or judgment to a higher court.

APPELLATE COURT: A judicial tribunal that reviews cases originally tried and decided by lower tribunals.  The appellate court acts without a jury and is primarily interested in correcting errors in procedure or in the interpretation of law by the lower courts.

APPELLATE JURISDICTION: The power of a court to hear a case that has already been tried by a lower court.

APPELLEE: The person against whom the appeal is taken.  Also known as the respondent.

APPLICATION (PROBATE): A written request (by form) to the Registrar for an order of informal probate of will and/or appointment of personal representative.

APPOINTED COUNSEL: Attorneys appointed by a judge or court to represent the defendant, usually in case of an indigent.

APPREHEND: To arrest, seize.

APPROACH THE BENCH: During course of trial, attorneys of both plaintiff and defendant discuss with the judge some matter of the trial, not discussed in public.

ARRAIGNMENT: In criminal cases to bring a person to court to answer to the criminal charges.  Usually the initial hearing after a charge or citation at which time the court ensures that the child and parents (or adult, in adult court) understand their rights, the charge and possible consequences.  In juvenile court, the child must admit or deny the charge at this time.  In adult court, a plea is not typically taken until the omnibus hearing.  Bail and conditions of release are set.  A public defender may be appointed at this stage, if the defendant meets certain financial eligibility requirements.

ARRAY: The whole body of jurors summoned to attend a court.  The order in which jurors' names are ranked in the panel containing them.

ARREST OF JUDGMENT: The act of postponing a judgment.

ARREST: A legally authorized act by which a person is deprived of his liberty.

ARTICLES OF AGREEMENT: A written statement comprising the terms of an agreement.

ASSAULT: A threat or attempt to injure someone.

ASSIGNEE: A person to whom an assignment is made; grantee.

ASSIGNMENT: The legal transfer of a claim, a right, or an interest to property to another person.

ASSIGNOR: A person who assigns a right, whether or not he/she is the original owner thereof.

ATTACHMENT: In most actions for the recovery of money the plaintiff may have the property of the defendant 'attached' as security for the satisfaction of the judgment that may be recovered.

ATTEST: To bear witness to a fact; to affirm to be true or genuine. 

ATTESTATION CLAUSE: The statement in a will that verifies that two persons have witnessed, by their signature, the signing of the will by the testator.  Or, it can be the verification of the testator's acknowledgment that he or she signed the instrument. 

ATTESTATION OF A WILL: The act of subscribing one's name as a witness to the execution of a will. 

ATTORNEY-AT-LAW: An officer of the court and a member of the bar.  He/she is empowered to give legal advice and to conduct proceedings on behalf of others. 

ATTORNEY-IN-FACT: A person who is authorized by another to act in the latter's behalf.  An attorney in fact is not necessarily a member of the bar. 

ATTORNEY-OF-RECORD :     Attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case as representing one of the parties. 

AUGMENTED ESTATE : The probate estate of the decedent reduced by funeral and administration expenses, the homestead, family allowances, and exemptions, liens, mortgages, and enforceable claims. 

AUTHENTICATION : An attestation made by an officer of the Court in which he or she certifies that a record in due form of law and that the person who certifies the document is the officer appointed to do so.  Example: The Court Administrator/Deputy certifies that the Judge is the Judge and the Judge certifies that the Court Administrator/Deputy is the Court Administrator/Deputy. 

AUTHENTICATION: In the law of evidence, the act or mode or giving authority or legal authenticity to a statute, record or certified copy, so as to render it legally admissible as evidence.  

AVERMENT: A statement of facts in a legal pleading. 

B.C.A.: Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. 

BAIL : To obtain the release of a person arrested or imprisoned by giving money, property, or a bond and promising he/she will appear at the time and place designated for court. 

BAIL HEARING: A hearing before a judge to determine what conditions of release, including cash bail or bond, should be imposed on an arrested person before they are released from custody.  The purpose of bail is to ensure the appearance of the person at the next court appearance, and to protect public safety. 

BAILEE : The legal term for a person to whom property is entrusted.  It has no relation to criminal bail. 

BAILIFF : A court attendant whose duties are to keep order in the courtroom and to have custody of the jury.   

BAILMENT : The temporary transfer of personal property by one person in trust to another.  The property is delivered for a special purpose with the understanding that it will be returned when the purpose of the bailment is carried out.   

BATTERY : The unlawful beating or use of force on a person without his consent. 

BEARER PAPER: A negotiable instrument which can be transferred by delivery.  It does not require endorsement. 

BENCH: Judge or judges composing a court. 

BENCH WARRANT: A document issued by a criminal court in which a criminal action is pending, directing a police officer to take into custody a defendant in the action who has previously been arraigned and to bring him/her before the court.  The function of a bench warrant is to achieve the court appearance of a defendant in a pending criminal action for some purpose other that his/her initial arraignment in the action.  

BENCH TRIAL: Trial before a judge. 

BENEFICIARY : The person named in a will or trust to receive property.  

BEQUEATH : The legal word which refers to the giving of personal property by will. 

BEYOND A REASONABLE DOUBT: The standard of proof required to convict a criminal defendant.  

BIFURCATED TRIAL: To try issues of a case separately in the hope that by resolving one issue, other issues may settle short of trial.  

BILL OF SALE: A written statement by which one person transfers to another his rights to personal property.  

BILL OF PARTICULARS: A document listing the details of a claim for which a suit is brought. 

BILL OF INDICTMENT (or Indictment): A written legal document that accuses a person of a crime. 

BILL OF COSTS: An itemized statement of authorized allowances and expenses that can be charged to the unsuccessful party of a lawsuit. 

BONA FIDE: A Latin phrase meaning that one acts “in good faith” without intention to defraud or deceive.  

BOND : A formal certificate or evidence of a debt; also defined as an interest-bearing certificate of a public or private debt. 

BONDSMAN: One who provides bond or surety. 

BOOKING: The process whereby individuals charged with felony-level offenses are fingerprinted and photographed. 

BREACH OF CONTRACT: To violate or break a contract. 

BREAKING AND ENTERING: Going into a house or building by force. 

BRIBE : Money or favor given or promised to a person in a position of trust to influence his/her judgment or conduct. 

BRIEF : A written document presented to the court by a lawyer to serve as the basis for argument.  

BURDEN OF PROOF: The duty of a party in a lawsuit to present sufficient proof to establish a disputed fact. 

CALENDAR: The list of cases to be tried during a court term.  

CAPACITY : The ability recognized by law to take legal action.   

CAPIAS(Latin): A class of writs that authorize a court officer to take a defendant into custody, or in other words, to arrest him/her. 

CAPITAL OFFENSE: Offense that has death as a penalty. 

CAPTION : The caption of a pleading, or other papers connected with a case in court, is the heading which shows the names of the parties, name of the court, number of the case, etc.  

CARRIER : Commonly, one who is hired to transport persons or property. 

CASE LAW: A branch of law consisting of court decisions.  It is distinct from statutes and other sources of law. 

CASE LOAD: The total number of clients registered with probation/parole department or officer at a specified point in time. 

CAUSA MORTIS: A Latin phrase meaning 'in contemplation of death', usually applied in connection with gifts made shortly before the donor's death. 

CAUSE OF ACTION: The legal basis on which a party to a lawsuit relies when bringing his/her claim against another.  

CAVEAT EMPTOR: A Latin phrase meaning 'let the buyer beware. 

CAVEAT VENDITOR: A Latin phrase meaning 'let the seller beware.  

CERTIFICATION : Decision made by the judge to try a juvenile in adult court.  

CERTIFICATION AS PETTY MISDEMEANOR: Rules authorize the prosecutor to certify that it is in the interests of justice that a defendant charged with a misdemeanor not be incarcerated.  These offenses can then be treated as petty misdemeanors.  Minn. R. Crim. Rule 23.04.  This term should not be confused with certification (or Reference) of Juvenile in district court, which is used to refer juveniles to adult court for criminal prosecution.  M.S. §260.125 

CERTIFIED COPY: Official copy of a court document, initialed and sealed by the court administrator or his/her deputy.  

CERTIORARI(Latin, 'to be made certain'): A legal proceeding by which an appellate court reviews the decision of a lower court or governmental agency. 

CESTUI QUI TRUST (Latin): The ‘beneficiary of a trust’.  

CHAIN OF CUSTODY: A showing of who had custody of evidence.  This showing must be made before certain evidence can be introduced.  

CHALLENGE : To object or raise a question.  For instance, to excuse a juror for bias or other factors that may influence his/her fairness.  Judges may also be challenged for similar reasons.   

CHAMBERS: A judge's office where he conducts business not requiring a jury.  

CHANGE OF VENUE: The removal of a suit begun in one county or district, to another, for trial.  

CHARGE: A formal complaint, information, or indictment accusing a person of having committed one or more offenses.  

CHIPS: (Juvenile Court) Child in Need of Protection or Services.  These are children whose cases have been brought into juvenile court, usually by the social services agency, as the result of a dependency or neglect petition.  M.S. §260-015  

CHATTEL : An item of personal property.  

CHILD : Any individual entitled to take, as a child under law, by intestate succession, from the parent whose relationship is involved, and excludes any person who is only a stepchild, foster child, grandchild, or any remote descendant.  

CHILD ABUSE: A willful action by a person causing physical harm to a child.  

CHILD SUPPORT: Money paid by a parent to supply food, housing and essentials.  

CHOSE OF ACTION: A personal right, not reduced into possession, but recoverable by a suit at law. 

CIRCUMSTANTIAL EVIDENCE: Facts or testimony not based on actual personal knowledge or observation, by which other non-substantiated facts can be reasonably inferred. 

CITATION : An order directing a person to appear in a legal proceeding.  Also, may be an order to pay a fine such as a traffic citation or ticket.  Also a reference to a case or statute. 

CITY ATTORNEY: The attorney responsible for charging and prosecuting petty, misdemeanor, and most gross misdemeanor offenses (e.g. county attorney handles child most maltreatment and sex offenses, regardless of level) in the city attorney's jurisdiction. 

CIVIL CASE: A lawsuit brought by individuals, companies, or agencies against other individuals, companies or agencies to obtain relief for injuries suffered - monetary loss, physical injury, etc. 

CIVIL COMMITMENT: The process of committing to a treatment facility someone who is mentally ill, developmentally disabled, or chemically dependent. 

CLAIM : The assertion of a right to money or property. 

CLAIMANT : One that asserts a right or title to an estate. 

CLAIMS : Liabilities of the decedent whether arising in contract or otherwise and liabilities of the estate which arise after the death of the decedent including funeral expenses and expenses of administration. 

CLASSIFICATION: The identification of supervision cases in terms of particular characteristics and for designated types of probation/parole services in keeping with established criteria. 

CLEMENCY: Clemency is leniency or compassion shown towards convicted offenders by those empowered to administer justice.  In every state, the governor or some other agency has been granted authority to commute prisoners' sentences, usually for humanitarian reasons.  Federal prisoners may receive clemency from the President of the United States.  Typical grounds for granting clemency include doubts regarding the defendant's guilt, disparities in sentencing, and injustices occurring during the offender's arrest or trial.  

CLERK OF COURT: See Court Administrator. 

CLOSING ARGUMENT: Prosecutor and then the defense speaks to the jury and tries to convince them of how the evidence proves his or her side of the case. 

CODEFENDANT : A defendant who is joined with another defendant in a case. 

CODICIL : A legal instrument that modifies a will. 

COERCE : To bring about by force or threat.  

COLLATERAL DESCENT: Descent in a collateral or oblique line, that is, up to the common ancestor, and then down from him, as from brother to brother, or between cousins. 

COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL: When a court has determined a question as part of a general decree, the conclusiveness of the judgment will be presumed, and a party will not be allowed to raise the question again in another cause of action. 

COMITY OF STATES: The practice by which the courts of one state recognize the laws and judicial decisions of another state. 

COMMIT : (1) To perform an act.  (2) To order that a mentally ill person be sent to a treatment facility.  (3) To sentence a criminal defendant to a correctional facility. 

COMMITMENT: The legal action taken by the court when it has been determined that an adjudicated juvenile or convicted adult should be placed in a state juvenile or adult corrections facility operated by the Commissioner of Corrections.  In doing so, the offender's custody is transferred to the Commissioner.  M.S. §260.185 

COMMON LAW: The law of a country based on custom, usage, and the decisions of the courts.  Also called 'case law' as distinguished from statutes and regulations. 

COMMUNITY WORK SERVICE (CWS): In the corrections system, community work service is a condition either assigned by the Court or agreed to as part of a Diversion Agreement.  CWS typically requires that a specific number of hours of unpaid work be performed through a private non-profit organization or public agency that serves the community.  CWS is usually arranged and monitored through a corrections agency, but work assignments and supervision at the work site are normally the responsibility of the community organization or public agency. 

COMMUTATION : A change from a greater to a lesser punishment in criminal law. 

COMPETENCY : In the law of evidence, the presence of those characteristics, or the absence of those disabilities, which render a witness legally qualified to give testimony and in the case of a defendant, to stand trial. 

COMPLAINT: (Adult Court) A written statement of the alleged wrongful or illegal acts by a party and which specifies the relief or damages requested.  The complaint must be served on the other parties in the lawsuit and filed with the court to start the lawsuit.  See Rules 3 through 11 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for additional information. 

CONCILIATION COURT: A small claims court where attorneys are not needed and civil claims of $7,500.00 or less are heard. (The dollar amount is subject to change by legislation.) 

CONCURRENT SENTENCES: Two or more sentences imposed by the court for different offenses that will be served at the same time by the defendant. 

CONDEMNATION : The process by which property of a private owner is taken for public use, without his/her consent, but upon the award and payment of just compensation. 

CONDITIONS OF PROBATION:  Requirements prescribed by the court as part of the sentence to assist the probationer to lead a law-abiding life.  Failure to observe may lead to revocation of probation and commitment or incarceration. 

CONFESS : To make a voluntary statement by a person charged with a crime or misdemeanor, admitting guilt.  

CONFISCATE : Appropriated by the government.  

CONFLICT OF INTEREST: This arises when an attorney is unable to represent a party because of other obligations. 

CONSECUTIVE SENTENCES: Sentences imposed by the court, succeeding one another in regular order. 

CONSERVATEE : An incapacitated person for whom the court has appointed a conservator to provide for his/her needs.  

CONSERVATOR : A person appointed by the court to provide for the needs of an incapacitated person with some, but not all, of the powers of a guardian.  

CONSOLIDATION : Joining cases and holding the trial and other proceedings together.   

CONSPIRACY : In criminal law, a combination between two or more persons formed by their joint efforts, or for the purpose of using criminal or unlawful means to the commission of an act not in itself unlawful.  

CONSTITUTIONAL RIGHTS: Rights guaranteed by the Federal or State Constitution.   

CONSTRUCTION : The process of determining the true meaning of a legal document, such as a 'contract' or a 'will.' 

CONTEMPT OF COURT: Any act calculated to embarrass, hinder, or obstruct a court in the administration of justice, or calculated to lessen the authority or dignity.  Contempts are of two kinds: direct and indirect.  Direct contempts are those committed in the immediate presence of the court; indirect is the term chiefly used with reference to the failure or refusal to obey a lawful order.  

CONTESTED : To oppose, resist or dispute.  

CONTINGENT DEVISEE(s): One or more persons named in a will to take in place of a devisee, if that devisee does not survive the decedent by a specified period of time.  

CONTINUANCE : Postponement of a proceeding.   

CONTRABAND:  Any item possessed by juveniles or adults or found within the facility that is illegal by law or that is expressly prohibited by those legally charged with the responsibility for administration and operation of the facility or program.  

CONTRACT : An agreement upon sufficient con­sideration to do or not to do a particular thing, also creating an obligation.  

CONVEYANCE : A transfer of a right to property; usually an interest in real property.  

CONVICTION : The finding that a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of committing a crime. (Adult court) includes a plea of guilty or a verdict or finding of guilt, if accepted and recorded by the court.  

CORONER : A Public official who investigates cause of death.  

CORPUS DELICTI (Latin, 'body of a crime'): The necessary substantial evidence or proof that a crime has been committed.   

CORROBORATE : To strengthen; to add weight or credibility to an argument by additional and confirming facts or evidence.   

COSTS : A pecuniary allowance made to the successful party for his/her expenses in prosecuting or defending a suit.  Ordinarily does not include attorney fees.   

COUNSEL : A lawyer or group of lawyers.  

COUNTERCLAIM: A counterclaim results when the defendant in their answer to the complaint, claims he/she is entitled to damages or other relief from the plaintiff.   

COUNTS : Charges.  Each count or charge states a separate criminal offense.  

COUNTY ATTORNEY: The prosecutor for most major criminal offenses.  City attorneys prosecute lesser offenses, such as misdemeanors.  The attorney general’s office will also prosecute certain cases, such as implied consent proceedings.  

COUNTY JAIL VS. STATE PRISON: The county jail is run locally: shorter sentences are served at it.  Offenders who are to serve sentences longer than a year are sent to the state prison.   

COURT : [An official assembly] or branch having jurisdiction in matters relating to the affairs of decedent.  This court in this state is known as the District Court, Probate Division."   

COURT ORDER:  A mandate issued by a judicial officer, requiring or prohibiting a particular course of action.   

COURT RECORD: Official written account of a court proceeding designed to remain as permanent evidence of the proceeding.   

CRIMINAL CASE: Case between the state and a person charged with a crime.   

CRIMINAL OFFENSE:  An act committed or omitted in violation of a law forbidding or commanding it for which an adult can be punished, upon conviction, by incarceration and other penalties or a corporation penalized, or for which a juvenile can be brought under the jurisdiction of a juvenile court and adjudicated a delinquent or transferred to adult court.  

COURT TRIAL: Trial to the judge, not the jury.  

COURT REPORTER: A person who transcribes testimony and proceedings during court hearings, trials, and proceedings.   

COURT ADMINISTRATOR: The court administrator serves as the court manager.  Formerly known as the clerk of court, the court administrator is a constitutional officer who is appointed by a majority of the judges of the district and is the administrative head of the court.   

CREDIT FOR TIME SERVED: The time a defendant spends in custody before sentencing is credited against the sentence.   

CREDIT : The sale of property or services in exchange for a promise of deferred payment.   

CREDITOR : A person or party to whom a debt is owed.   

CRIMINAL RECORD:  Information collected by criminal justice agencies on individuals consisting of identifiable descriptions and notations of arrests, detentions, indictments, information or other formal criminal charges, and any disposition(s) arising there from, including sentences, correctional supervision, and release.  

CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT: Includes rape, statutory rape, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent liberties, most incest cases.  

CRIME : An act committed or omitted in violation of a public law or an act in violation of those duties which an individual owes to the community. 

CRIMINAL : Matters or cases concerned with acts considered to be harmful to the general public that are forbidden by laws and are punishable by fine, imprisonment, or death. 

CRIMJIG : Jury instructions for criminal cases, published in a jury instruction guide.  

CROSS EXAMINATION: The questions which a lawyer puts to the litigant or witness on the opposing side.   

CROSS CLAIM: A claim brought by one defendant against another defendant.  See Rules 13, 14 and 15 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for more information. 

CUSTODIAN OF RECORDS: The person who is responsible for maintaining official records. 

CUSTODY : The parent who is awarded custody will have the children in their home on a permanent basis and will be responsible for the care and upbringing of the child.  Restraint by a public servant, pursuant to an authorized arrest or order of a court.  Commonly for jail or prison time. 

D.B.A.: Used in captions, means “doing business as”.  

DAMAGES : Money claimed by, or compensation recovered through the court by an individual who has suffered injury or loss due to the fault of someone else.  

DE FACTO:A Latin phrase meaning 'in fact' usually used to describe a situation which exists in fact, irrespective of any design or operation of law.   

DE NOVO: A trial 'de novo' is the retrial of a case as if the case had not been tried before.  

DE JURE: A Latin phrase meaning "in accordance with law.' For example, a corporation may have a valid charter and may be acting within its powers.  It is, therefore, a de jure corporation.  

DECLARATORY JUDGMENT: One which declares the rights of the parties.   

DECREE : A judgment or determination of a court.  A final decree completely disposes of the litigation; an interlocutory decree is provisional and is not final. 

DEED : A written document signed by the owner of real estate which transfers ownership to another person.   

DEFAULT: A default in an action that occurs when a defendant fails to answer a complaint or fails to appear at the trial.  Therefore, the plaintiff wins.  

DEFENDANT: In a civil case, the person against whom a lawsuit is started; in a criminal case, the person charged with an offense.   

DEFENSE : A defendant's denial, answer to plea.   

DELIBERATION : Process whereby a jury considers the evidence presented at a trial in order to decide on a verdict.   

DELINQUENCY : Failure, state or condition of one who has failed to perform his/her duty.  In juvenile law is one who has been guilty of some crime.  

DELINQUENT : (1) Offending by neglect or violation of duty or of law. (2) Being overdue in payment.  

DELINQUENT : A juvenile who has committed acts that are against the law.  A term which describes a juvenile's behavior that is judged to be antisocial or in violation of the law.  M.S. §260.015.  

DEMANDANT : A person who demands that he/she receive notice in probate proceedings. 

DEMURRER : A pleading by one party to a legal action that admits the truth of the matter alleged by the other party but declares it is insufficient in law to sustain the claim. 

DEPONENT : A person who makes a written statement under oath.  

DEPOSITION: An oral statement, taken under oath and before a court reporter who takes a verbatim transcription of the facts and issues involved in the litigation.  Depositions are generally taken only during the discovery period and are used to obtain information about the litigation.  See Rules 30, 31 and 32 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for more information.  

DESCENDANT : One who is descended from another or from a common stock.  

DESCENT : The  inheritance of real property when the owner dies without a will. 

DEVISE(verb): To dispose of real or personal property by [a] will." 

DEVISE(noun): A testamentary disposition of real or personal property . 

DEVISEE : A person or organization designated to receive real or personal property under a will.  

DIRECT EVIDENCE: Evidence from a witness who actually saw, heard or touched the subject of interrogation.  This evidence directly proves a fact without any inference of presumption. 

DIRECT EXAMINATION: The questions which the lawyer asks his/her own client or his own witness.  

DIRECTED VERDICT: An instruction by the judge to the jury to return a specific verdict.  This occurs when the judge decides that the law permits only one verdict.  

DISABILITY : The absence of legal capability to carry out an act.  

DISCHARGE : (1) Termination of employment by firing, (2) Release of a criminal defendant, (3) Firing of a weapon. 

DISCOVERY : A specific period of time in which the parties gather information and facts about litigation.  Discovery methods include, but are not limited to written interrogatories and requests for production of documents, along with depositions.  The discovery period is set by the court's Scheduling Order.  More information may be found in rules 26 through 37 in the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. 

DISMISSAL : A dismissal without prejudice permits the plaintiff to sue again on the same causes of action while a dismissal with prejudice bars the right to bring or maintain an action on the same claim or cause. 

DISPOSITION : The judge’s final decision in a juvenile case. 

DISSOLUTION : Cancellation, repeal; as in contracts, or as in the disbanding of a corporation; divorce in Minnesota is now called marriage dissolution. 

DISTRIBUTEE : Any person who has received property of a decedent from decedent's personal representative other than as a creditor or purchaser. 

DISTRIBUTION : The allocation and delivery of a descendant's property to his/her heirs or those named in a will. 

DISTRICT ATTORNEY: The prosecuting officer of a given judicial district.  

DIVERSION : Removal of a particular case from the traditional justice system upon county or city attorney in certain circumstances.  Result is that offender will not have a criminal record providing that s/he complies with diversion requirements.  

DIVORCE : Cancellation of a marriage.  

DOC : Department of Corrections 

DOCKET :(1) A book containing brief entries of all the important acts done in court during each case. (2) A court calendar prepared by the clerk for use of the court. (3) A judgment docket is a list or docket of the judgments entered in a given court intended to afford official notice to interested parties of the existence of a lien or judgment. 

DOMICILIARY ADMINISTRATION: Probate administration in the state in which the decedent was living (domiciled) at the time of death, and owned property in that state.  Also the primary administration when the decedent owns property in other state(s) besides Minnesota. 

DOMICILE : Place of residence of an individual, coupled with an intention to make it one's home.   

DOUBLE JEOPARDY: Trial of a person for a second time for the same crime in the same jurisdiction. The Fifth and Fourteenth Amendments made such a trial unlawful unless there is an appeal from a conviction.  

DPS : Department of Public Safety 

DRUNK AND DISORDERLY: Having the faculties impaired by alcohol and engaged in conduct offensive to public order.  

DUE PROCESS OF LAW: The required procedures for depriving someone of life, liberty, or property through governmental action.  These procedures are guaranteed by the Constitutions of the United States and Minnesota.  

DURESS : Threats of bodily harm intended to coerce the will of another, forcing actions against free will. 

DWI (DUI), BWI: Driving or boating while intoxicated or driving while under the influence (of alcohol). A generic term for a person operating a vehicle with a blood alcohol content (BAC), which is higher than the state allows.  Some states have a lesser offense (lower BAC levels). 

ECR :     Electronic court reporter.  

EASEMENT: The right of the owner of one piece of real estate to use the land of his/her neighbor for a special purpose.  

EJECTMENT : The legal remedy available to a landowner for recovery of real estate from persons who have no right to be on it.   

ELECTRONIC COURT REPORTER: A court deputy or other court employee who is certified by the Supreme Court to record court hearings on audio tape, and to prepare transcripts from the taped record.   

ELECTRONIC HOME MONITORING (EHM):  Rather than confining a convicted person in a county jail or workhouse, an electronic bracelet is placed on the person's ankle.  This bracelet is connected electronically to a radio transmitter that is connected to the telephone.  If the person goes outside of the effective monitoring radius of the transmitter an alarm is sounded at a central control monitoring point and the local probation agency is notified.   

EQUAL PROTECTION: This refers to the notion, grounded in the U.S. Constitution, that no person or class of persons be denied the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and in their pursuit of happiness.  

DETENTION : Supervising a defendant who is detained at home by use of electronics.   

EMBEZZLEMENT : Appropriating (as property entrusted to one's care) fraudulently to one's own use.  

EMINENT DOMAIN: The power of the state to appropriate private property for public use.  

ENHANCEMENTS : Factors that can increase the penalty for a criminal offense, if present.  

ENJOIN : To require a person either to do a certain act or not do a certain act.   

ENTRAPMENT : The act of officers or agents of the government in inducing a person to commit a crime, not contemplated by him, for the purpose of instituting a criminal prosecution against him.

EQUITY : A system of jurisprudence based on remedial justice to make the administration of justice more complete by allowing the court to order equitable remedies.  

ESCHEAT : A turning over of property to the state when there are no known heirs.  

ESCROW : A writing, deed, or security delivered by the grantor to a third party, to be held until the happening of a contingency or performance of a condition.  

ESTATE : All property, real or personal, tangible or intangible, in which a person has an interest, usually referring to the total a person has at his or her death.  

ESTOPPEL : Arises when one is precluded and forbidden by law to speak against his own act or deed.   

ET AL:A Latin phrase meaning “and others”.   

ET SEQ: A Latin phrase meaning 'and the following.' 

EVICTION : Putting a tenant out by legal process. 

EVIDENCE : Anything legally admitted in a trial (e.g. testimony of witnesses, documents, objects, etc.) used to prove the truth of the matter at issue.   

EVIDENTIARY HEARING: A pretrial hearing at which the admissibility of evidence is considered.  

EX PARTE: A Latin phrase meaning 'on one side only.' Usually, it describes a proceeding in which only one side has made application and only one side is heard.  

EX-CONVICT : A person who served a prison sentence.   

EXAMINATION : Questioning, as of a witness.   

EXCEPTION : A legal term for a formal objection to the action or ruling of the court during a trial.  

EXCLUSIONARY RULE: Protects persons of their indefeasible right of personal security from unlawful search and seizures.   

EXCUSE THE JURY: Asking the jury to leave the room.   

EXECUTION : The completion, fulfillment, carrying out some act; a writ forcing payment such as on a money judgment.  In common law execution is said to be final.   

EXECUTOR : The person named in a will to carry out its terms; now known as the 'personal representative.'   

EXHIBIT : Articles such as books, letters, documents, or other items that are received in evidence during a trial.  

EXPERT WITNESS: A witness having or displaying special skill or knowledge derived from training or experience.   

EXTENDED JURISDICTION JUVENILE (EJJ): An older juvenile, alleged to have committed a felony offense, who meets certain statutory guidelines as set forth in Minn. Stat. § 260.126. 

EXTENUATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Factors that reduce responsibility for a crime and justify a less severe punishment.  

EXTRADITION : Turning over an individual who is wanted in another state to that state’s authorities.   

EYE WITNESS: One who sees an occurrence or object. 

FAILURE TO APPEAR: Failing to show up in court. 

FALSE ARREST/FALSE IMPRISONMENT: Unlawful arrest or imprisonment of a person.  Can be the basis of a civil lawsuit.  

FALSE PRETENSES: A false claim made or implied.  One not supported by fact.  

FAMILY CAR DOCTRINE: A doctrine by which the head of the household is liable for injuries caused by the negligence of other members of his/her household while operating the family car.  Not all states accept this doctrine.  

FEDERALISM : The division of power and responsibility between the federal government, the state government and local government. 

FELONY: The most serious category of criminal offenses.  In Minnesota, a felony is a crime punishable by imprisonment of more than one year, with or without a fine. 

FIDUCIARY-- A person holding property in a trust capacity for the benefit of another. Examples: Personal representative, guardian, trustee. 

FILING : The method by which controversies are submitted to the court.  Pleadings generally must be filed with the court.  Different pleadings have various strict deadlines for filing.  Consult Rules 5, 6, and 56 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure along with Rule 115 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts for further information. 

FINANCE CHARGE: A term required to be disclosed on all credit transactions under the Truth in Lending Law; it describes the total of all costs consumer must pay for obtaining credit. 

FINDINGS : The final decision of a judge or jury as to the facts in a case. 

F.K.A : Used in captions, means “formerly known as”. 

FINDINGS AND CONCLUSIONS: The decisions reached by the judge which includes findings of fact and conclusions of law. 

FINE : To sentence a person convicted of an offense to pay a penalty in money. 

FIRST APPEARANCE (Rule 5 Appearance): At the first appearance, a defendant is advised of the offenses he or she is charged with, and his or her constitutional rights.  Counsel may be appointed, release conditions set, and the next appearance scheduled.  Minn.R. Crim.P.Rule 5. 

FLORENCE HEARING: A hearing on probable cause, usually combined with the Rasmussen hearing. 

FOREIGN PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: Personal representative of another jurisdiction. 

FOREIGN CONSUL:Notice must be given to consul of the country decedent was born in, if foreign. 

FOREIGN WILL:The will of a person not domiciled in Minnesota at the time of death. 

FORFEIT : To lose as the result of some error, misjudgment, or other act.  For example, earnest money advanced for the purchase of a house is forfeited if the buyer fails to complete the deal. 

FORGERY : The creation or alteration of a written or printed document, which if validly executed would constitute a record of a legally binding transaction, with the intent to defraud by affirming it to be the act of an unknowing second person. 

FORMAL PROBATE PROCEEDINGS: Those conducted before a judge with notice to interested persons. 

FRAUD : Intentionally deceiving another causing loss or harm.  An element of certain offenses, consisting of deceit or intentional misrepresentation with the aim of illegally depriving a person of his/her property or legal rights. 

FRYE HEARING: A hearing held to determine admissibility of scientific evidence or expert testimony.  (Has been overruled in federal court). 

FUGITIVE:  A person who has concealed himself/herself or fled a given jurisdiction in order to avoid prosecution or confinement. 

GARNISHMENT: The process of notifying someone, who has money or goods (usually wages) belonging to the defendant to hold the money or goods for the plaintiff. 

GENERAL RULES OF PRACTICE FOR THE DISTRICT COURT: Additional rules which describe and govern how a civil lawsuit is managed in the district courts.  The Rules of Practice describe additional requirements that must be followed when pursuing litigation. 

GOOD TIME:  If a person sentenced to a county jail or workhouse complies with the rules of the facility during incarceration, his/her period of incarceration may be reduced up to one-third of the original sentence (the remainder of the sentence would be spent on supervised release).  Infractions of jail or workhouse rules can result in the loss of good time.  M.S. §643.29. 

GRAND JURY: In Minnesota, a panel of 23 citizens who hear evidence against a person accused of a crime and determine whether that person should stand trial.  A grand jury can also investigate various aspects of government at its own initiative, particularly charges of corruption or mismanagement. 

GRAND LARCENY: Larceny of property of a value greater than that fixed as constituting petty larceny. 

GROSS MISDEMEANOR OFFENSE: A criminal offense more serious than a misdemeanor but not as serious as a felony.  An offense that has a maximum sentence of one year in jail and a fine of $3,000. 

GROUNDS : The basis or cause for a legal action. 

GUARDIAN : A person appointed by the court to be responsible for the person or property of a minor or incapacitated individual. 

GUARDIAN AD LITEM: A person appointed by a juvenile court in some cases to represent the best interests of a child in a court proceeding.  M.S.§260.155 

HABEAS CORPUS: A Latin phrase meaning “having the body.”  Court order to bring a prisoner before the court to determine whether he/she may continue to be held in custody. 

HEARING : A preliminary examination in criminal or civil procedure. 

HEARSAY : Testimony given by a witness that related not to what he/she knows personally, but what he/she has been told. 

HEIRS : Those persons, including the surviving spouse, who are entitled under the statute of intestate succession to the property of the decedent. 

HERANDEZ METHOD: In sentencing a defendant on the same day for more than one conviction against different victims, the court may consider the earlier conviction when calculating criminal history score for the last offense. 

HOLOGRAPHIC WILL: A will written, signed, and dated by the testator in his/her own handwriting. 

HOMICIDE : The killing of one human by another, first degree, the most serious involves premeditation. 

HOSTILE WITNESS: Unfriendly, antagonistic witness. 

HUBER RELEASE: Work release for incarcerated persons. 

HUNG JURY: A jury that cannot reach a verdict. 

IMMUNITY: Freedom from or protection against penalty.  For example, an accused may agree to give testimony in return for immunity from prosecution. 

IMPARTIAL MEDICAL: Unbiased record of testimony pertaining, relating or belonging to the study and practice of medicine, brought in by judge. 

IMPEACHMENT OF A VERDICT: Discrediting the jury verdict or how they reached the verdict. 

IMPLICATE : To bring into intimate or incriminating connection. 

IMPLIED CONSENT PROCEEDINGS: A proceeding associated with DWI cases, which focuses on whether the driver should be allowed to continue driving. (This is a civil case.) 

IMPLY : To involve or indicate by inference, association, or necessary consequence rather than by direct statement. 

IMPRISONMENT : Placing an individual in jail or prison. 

IN CAMERA: In chambers; in private. 

IN REM: Action instituted against a thing or property. 

IN FORMA PAUPERIS: Court waived costs/fees due to a person being indigent. 

INADMISSIBLE : That which for some legal reason may not be introduced during the trial. 

INCARCERATION : Putting in prison.  Subjecting to confinement. 

INCEST : Sexual intercourse between persons so closely related that they are forbidden by law to marry. 

INCOMPETENT WITNESS: Unqualified.  For instance, a person who hears but does not see an accident is incompetent as an eye witness to the crash, but is competent to establish other facts, such as the time of the accident. 

INCRIMINATE : To imply guilt. 

INDECENT EXPOSURE: Intentional exposure of part of one's body (as the genitals) in a place where such exposure is likely to be an offense. 

INDEMNITY : An agreement by which one person promises to protect or to reimburse another for loss or damages. 

INDICTMENT : Formal charge by a grand jury on the basis of which an accused person is brought to trial. 

INDIGENT : A person with little money or property. 

INFORMAL PROBATE PROCEEDINGS: Those conducted by the Judge, the Registrar, or the person or persons designated by the Judge for probate of a will or appointment of a personal representative in accordance with Section 524.3-301 to 524.3-21 I. 

INFORMATION : An accusation of criminal wrong doing based on the affidavit of a person such as a county attorney allegedly having knowledge (information) of the offense. 

INJUNCTION : A mandatory or prohibitive writ used by a court requiring the person to whom it is directed to do or refrain from doing a particular thing. 

INNOCENT UNTIL PROVEN GUILTY: Free from legal fault until found liable. 

INQUEST : A judicial inquiry. 

INSANITY : Inability to know what one is doing and to decide if the action is right or wrong. 

INSOLVENT ESTATE:An estate wherein liabilities exceed the value of its assets. 

INSTRUCTIONS : The judge's directions to a jury.  The jury decides facts, and the judge tells the jury what law applies to the facts. 

INSTRUMENT : A formal legal document. 

INTAKE : Step in juvenile process during which a decision is made to either detain the juvenile at a detention center or to release to parents. 

INTANGIBLE PROPERTY:Real estate and financial "liquid" assets, such as money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title (such as a car), securities (such as stocks and bonds), or property used in trade or business. 

INTERESTED PERSON: Heirs, devisees, children, spouses, creditors, beneficiaries, and any others having a property right in or claim against the estate of a decedent, ward or protected person which may be affected by the proceeding.  It also includes persons having priority for appointment as personal representative and other fiduciaries representing interested persons. 

INTERLOCUTORY : Temporary order or decree of the court that is not final, and generally not appealable. 

INTERMEDIATE SANCTIONS: Non-imprisonment sanctions, including fines, community work service, intensive probation, home detention, electronic monitoring, treatment, etc. 

INTERROGATE : To question someone. 

INTERROGATORIES : Written questions served on an opposing party or attorney which are used to obtain information during the discovery period of the case.  These questions generally must be answered under oath, signed by the party answering them, notarized, and returned to the party asking the questions 30 days after they are received.  Interrogatories are governed by Rule 33 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. 

INTESTATE SUCCESSION: The heirs to whom an estate passes when the decedent has made no valid will. 

INTESTATE : Having made no valid will. 

INTIMIDATE : To make fearful; to compel or deter as if by threats. 

INTRODUCE : To formally place evidence before the court. 

IRRELEVANT FACTS: Evidence that does not prove or disprove any issue or fact involved in a case. 

ISSUE : A disputed question of fact; it is one of the “issues” that the jury must decide. 

JAIL: Local facility where time is served for less serious offenses. 

JAS : Judicial Advisory Service, an office of State Court Administration. 

JOINT TENANCY: Joint tenants who own an equal interest in the same property, all of which passes to the survivor. 

JPO : Judicial Planning Office, an office of State Court Administration. 

JUDGMENT DEBTOR: A person who owes a money judgment. 

JUDGMENT CREDITOR: The party in a lawsuit who has won a money judgment against his/her debtor. 

JUDGMENT, N.O.V.: Not withstanding the verdict, a judgment entered by order of the court for one party although there has been a verdict for the other. 

JUDGMENT: The official decision of a court. 

JUDGMENT LIEN: A lien binding the property, usually real estate, of a judgment debtor. 

JUDICIAL NOTICE: The doctrine by which the court accepts certain matters without demanding evidence.  Such matters include state laws, historical events, geographical data, etc. 

JURISDICTION : The legal authority of a court to hear a case or conduct other proceedings. 

JURY : A group of citizens that decides the outcome of a civil case, or decides whether the defendant is guilty or not guilty in a criminal case.  In a felony case, the jury will consist of 12 persons.  In a misdemeanor or civil case, the jury consists of 6 persons.  In a criminal case, the jury must reach a unanimous verdict. 

JURY PANEL: The whole number of prospective jurors, from whom the trial jury of 6 or 12 is chosen. 

JURY TRIAL: A trial by an impaneled jury. Once impaneled, those jurors decide the case. 

JURY CHALLENGE: Objections to members of the jury panel that can be made by the parties to suit or action questioning their right to sit on the jury. 

JUSTICE OF THE PEACE: A judicial officer having jurisdiction of a limited nature over minor cases, both civil and criminal.  This position has been abolished in Minnesota although it exists in other states. 

JUVENILE : In Minnesota, a person under 18 years of age.  Same as a minor. 

KIDNAP: To seize and detain or carry away by unlawful force or fraud and often with a demand for ransom. 

LARCENY: The  unlawful taking and carrying away of personal property with intent to deprive the owner of his/her property. 

LAWSUIT : A case brought before a court of law. 

LEADING QUESTION: Question asked of witness or defendant which suggest the answer. 

LEASE : An agreement giving one person the right to use the property of another following agreed upon terms, such as length of time and rent. 

LEGACY : Disposition of personal property by will.  A bequest. 

LEGATEE : The person to whom a legacy is given. 

LETTERS OF GENERAL ADMINISTRATION: Document issued by the Registrar or Court giving a person the authority to administer the estate of a deceased person who made no will. 

LETTERS TESTAMENTARY: Document issued by the Registrar or Court giving a person the authority to administer the estate of a decedent who made a will. 

LETTERS OF ADMINISTRATION: Documents usually issued by a probate court giving an administrator the authority to administer the estate of the deceased person. 

LETTERS OF GUARDIANSHIP: A court document that serves as a guardian's authority to act. 

LEVY : The seizure and sale of property by the court to satisfy a garnishment of judgment. 

LEWD/OBSCENE : Vulgar; abhorrent to morality or virtue; designed to incite to lust or depravity. 

LIABILITY : Responsibility; an obligation one is bound in law or justice to perform. 

LIBEL : A written statement or picture that damages a person's reputation. 

LIEN : A claim against property. 

LIFE TENANT: A person who holds a lifetime interest in property. 

LIFE ESTATE: A lifetime interest in property.  This interest terminates upon the death of the individual. 

LINEAL DESCENT:Descent in a direct or right line, as from father or grandfather to son or grandson. 

LINEUP : A group of people shown to a witness by police, to assist in identification of a suspect. 

LIS PENDENS (Latin, 'pending suit'): A notice advising those interested to examine the pending legal action. 

LITIGATION : A litigant is a party to a lawsuit.  Litigation is everything associated with trial ­depositions, motions, arguing, before a jury, etc. 

MACA: Minnesota Association for Court Admini­stration. 

MACO : Minnesota Association of County Officers. 

MAINTENANCE : Award made in a dissolution or legal separation of payments from one spouse for the support and maintenance of the other. 

MALFEASANCE : Performance of a wrongful act. 

MALICE : Is a state of mind which suggests a conscious violation of the law or the willful commitment of an act or crime. 

MALPRACTICE : Negligent performance by a professional person. 

MANDAMUS : Command, name of summary writ which issues from court of superior jurisdiction and is directed to command performance of specific duty which relator is entitled to have performed. 

MANDATORY SENTENCE: A sentence that must be imposed. 

MAPR: Minnesota Association of Probate Registrars. 

MASTER : An officer of the court, similar to a referee, who acts as an assistant to the judge.  Used primarily in the federal courts. 

MATERIAL WITNESS: An important witness. 

MAXIMUM SENTENCE: The maximum sentence permitted by statute for an offense. 

MDJA: Minnesota District Judges Association. 

MECHANICS LIEN:  A claim against real estate made by a contractor, subcontractor, or supplier of building materials who contributed to improvements built on the real estate.  A mechanics lien, if enforced, permits the party who filed the claim to force a sale of the real estate to pay the claim. 

MESNE: Intermediate, intervening.  When used to describe process it distinguishes process issued after a case begins and before the final execution. 

MINIMUM SENTENCE:  Some offenses have a "mandatory minimum" sentence for the offense, per statute.  For example, offenses committed with a firearm require a minimum sentence of three years in prison.  Offenses committed with other dangerous weapons require a minimum sentence of one year and one day imprisonment.  M.S. §609.11. 

MINNESOTA SENTENCING GUIDELINES: A system of determining and setting out presumptive sentences for persons convicted of crimes.  Minnesota's Sentencing Guidelines apply only to felony offenses.  The guidelines, developed by an 11 member legislatively mandated commission, determine which offenders should go to prison and for how long, and which ones should remain in the community.  The various recommended sentences are set forth on a grid, which takes into account the severity of the crime and the offender's criminal history.  M.S. §244.09. 

MIRANDA WARNING: Prior to any questioning by law enforcement officers, after being taken into custody or deprived of his freedom, a person must be warned he/she may remain silent, that any statement he/she does make may be used against him/her, that he/she has the right to have an attorney present, and that if he/she cannot afford an attorney, the court will provide one. 

MISDEMEANOR: A minor offense that is less serious than a felony and is usually punishable by a fine or a short term of imprisonment of one year or less. 

MISFEASANCE : The improper performance of a lawful act. 

MISTRIAL : An invalid trial.  A trial which has no legal effect because of some error or prejudice in the proceedings. 

MITIGATING CIRCUMSTANCES: Facts that make a crime less severe, or an offender less culpable, and thus justify a reduced sentence. 

MOLEST : To make annoying sexual advances to. 

MOOT : Unsettled, undecided.  A moot point is one not settled by judicial decisions. 

MORRISEY HEARING: A hearing that is required before taking away a parolee or probationer’s liberty. 

MOTION IN LIMINE: A motion brought before trial, outside the presence of the jury. 

MOTION : A motion is a written pleading, a request to the court or the judge, for a rule or an order directing something to be done in favor of the person requesting it.  You must serve the opposing side with any motions you file.  See Rules 7, 11, 12 and 56 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, along with Rules 114 and 115 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

M’NAUGHTEN RULE: Standard for establishing whether a defendant is legally insane. 

N.K.A.: Used in captions, means "now known as.' 

NACM: National Association for Court Management. 

NEGATIVE ALLEGATION: Required statement made by applicant that is added to the end of a list of heirs on an application; its intent is to eliminate all classes of heirs not included in any given probate situation. (See Court Rule 408(a). 

NEGLECT: A term that describes children whose parents neglect or refuse to provide needed care and supervision.  M.S. §260.015. 

NEGLIGENCE : The doing of something which a reasonable and prudent person would not do. 

NO BILL: When endorsed by a grand jury on an indictment is equivalent to 'not found' meaning that the grand jury felt the evidence was insufficient to warrant the return of formal charges. 

NOLO CONTENDERE (Latin, 'I will not contest'): A plea similar to a plea of guilty; used only in a criminal action. 

NON-PROBATE ASSETS:Property of the decedent not requiring a court proceeding to effect a transfer of title or delivery to persons entitled to receive them. (Most often assets payable on death or held jointly between decedent and another living person.) 

NON-RESIDENT DECEDENT:A decedent who lived in a state other than Minnesota at the time of death. 

NONFEASANCE : The omission of an act which a person ought to do. 

NONRESPONSIVE ANSWER: Answer during witness examination that does not answer the question, may result in an objection. 

NOTARIZED : Process where an authorized public office verifies the signature and contents of documents. 

NOTARY PUBLIC: A public official whose duty is to administer oaths and witness numerous types of official documents. 

NOTICE PLEADING: It proceeds from the plaintiff and warns the defendant that he/she must plead to declaration or complaint within a prescribed time. 

NOVATION : A new debt, contract, or obligation that supersedes one previously made. 

NUISANCE : A tort arising from a person's use of his property; generally when he/she causes annoyance, damage, or danger to others by such use. 

NULL AND VOID: Of no validity or effect. 

NUNC PRO TUNC: Having retroactive legal effect through a court's inherent power.  "The court entered a nunc pro tunc order to correct a clerical error in the record." 

NUNCUPATIVE WILL: An oral will by which a person disposes of his/her property in the event of death.  In many states, this type of will has been invalid by state statute. 

OATH: A sworn promise by which a person signifies that he/she is bound to perform an act faithfully truthfully. 

OBJECTION : In a trial, a lawyer may object to a procedure or action in the trial which he/she feels should not be permitted under the rules of law which govern the conduct of trials.  The judge will make a decision as to whether or not the objection is to be sustained or overruled. 

OBLIGEE : Party to whom someone else is indebted. 

OBLIGOR : One who is bound by a legal debt. 

OFFENSE : A violation of the criminal law. 

OMITTED CHILD:A decedent's child who was unintentionally omitted from the decedent's will or was born to or adopted by the decedent after execution of the will. (This child receives a share of the estate in accordance with M.S. 524.2-302.) 

OMITTED SPOUSE:A decedent's spouse who was unintentionally omitted from the decedent's will or who married the decedent after execution of the will. (M.S. 524.2-301) 

OMNIBUS HEARING: A hearing preceding a criminal trial that may encompass two sets of issues: (1) probable cause that the defendant committed the crime charges and (2) admissibility of evidence. 

OPENING STATEMENT: Each attorney will discuss the merits of the case as pertaining to his client.  This will outline what they will show during the trial. 

OPINION : The written decision of a case setting forth the findings of fact and conclusions of law. 

OPTION : In contract law, a privilege extended to one person giving him/her the opportunity to purchase another’s property at a specified price within a designated time limit. 

ORDER : A written direction of a court or judge, other than a judgment. 

ORDER TO SHOW CAUSE: An order requiring a party to appear and show cause why a previously issued order has not been complied with, or why a proposed order should not be made. 

ORDER FOR PROTECTION, HARASSMENT RESTRAINING ORDER: An order issued by a judge after a hearing typically requiring that a particular individual stay away from another individual.  Violations of these orders require arrest by law enforcement. 

ORDINANCE : A municipal statute.  A law passed by a city or village. 

ORIENTATION (JURORS): Presentation by the judge or court administrator informing jurors of their duties and obligations. 


ORIGINAL WARRANT: When an oral application (e.g. an application over the phone) is made for a warrant, the person requesting the warrant prepares a duplicate original warrant, which is read to the judge.  The judge enters, verbatim, what is read to him or her; this document is known as the original warrant.  Minn.R.Crim.P.Rule 36. 

OVERRULE : To not accept the position of the objector. 

PARDON: (1) To excuse an offense without exacting a penalty.  (2) A release from the legal penalties of an offense. 

PARENS PATRIAE: Refers to the role of the state as guardian or surrogate parent. 

PAROLE : To release a convict from prison before his/her term is up.  Release is often conditional on good behavior. 

PAROLE/SUPERVISED RELEASE: Juvenile: Refers to juveniles who are released by the Commissioner of Corrections from state juvenile correctional facilities.  Similar to the status of an adult who is released from a state prison, these juveniles are supervised in the community by juvenile probation officers, nearly all of who are county employees.  

Adult: Refers to the status of a convicted felon who has been released from a state correctional facility.  It is similar to probation in that a supervised releasee has certain conditions he/she must meet in order to remain in the community.  The Department of Corrections Office of Adult Hearings and Release, however, sets these conditions, not the District Court. 

PARTIES : The plaintiff and the defendant in the case are called parties.  They are also called the litigants.  Sometimes there is more than one plaintiff or defendant. 

PARTY .  A person or company or other legal entity involved in a lawsuit either as a person bringing a claim (plaintiff) or a person defending against a claim (defendant).  If a party is represented by an attorney, all contact, including by telephone and mail, must be made with the attorney and not the company or person.  See Rule 1.03 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

PENALTY : Punishment imposed, usually for a criminal offense. 

PENDING : Not yet decided; being in continuance. 

PER CAPITA: A method of dividing property left by a decedent.  The property is distributed among the number of individuals equally related to the decedent so that each receives an equal share. 

PER CURIAM: By the Court.  Used to distinguish an opinion of the whole court from an opinion written by any one judge. 

PER STIRPES:In the laws of descent, a method of dividing the proceeds of an intestate estate, whereby a group of individuals take whatever their deceased ancestors would have received.  In other words, taking by their right of representing such ancestor (as opposed to per capita). 

PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE: A party’s right to dismiss a juror without giving any reason. 

PERJURE : To knowingly and willfully give false testimony under oath. 

PERPETUATE : To bring about or carry out a crime; commit. 

PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE: Release without bail upon defendant’s written promise to appear.  Minn.R.Crim.P.Rule 6.02. 

PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: A party (individual, organization or other legal entity), appointed by the Court or Registrar to administer an estate. 

PETIT JURY: A body of local citizens, six or twelve, who are chosen to hear and decide the verdict in civil and criminal cases. 

PETITION : A written request for action or relief.  A marriage dissolution in Minnesota begins with the filing of a petition (formerly called a complaint).  Legal actions against juvenile in Minnesota beginning with a petition.  See also complaint.  M.S. §260.131. 

PETITIONER: A person who starts a lawsuit; the party seeking to be paid for an injury or because his or her rights have been violated. 

PETTY MISDEMEANOR: A petty offense that is prohibited by statute, that does not constitute a crime. 

PETTY THEFT: Theft of a small amount of goods. 

PETTY LARCENY: Larceny involving property of a value below a legally established minimum. 

PLAINTIFF : A person who starts a lawsuit; the party seeking to be paid for an injury or because his/her rights have been interfered with.  Also called the petitioner or complainant. 

PLEA BARGAINING: Possibly better referred to as plea negotiating wherein the defendant seeks reduced charges or lenient punishment in exchange for his/her plea of guilty. 

PLEA : An answer by a criminal defendant either admitting or denying the charges against him/her set forth in the complaint. 

PLEADING : A document filed with the court and served on other parties with the parties' arguments and factual allegations about the claims and defenses in dispute in the lawsuit.  Examples of pleadings include the complaint, answer, notice of motion and motion, memorandum of law in support of motion, a response to a motion, and a reply.  More information may be found regarding pleadings in Rules 3 through 16 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, and Rule 6.01 through 6.03 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

PLEDGE : The transfer of title or possession of personal property to a creditor as security for a debt. 

POLLING THE JURY: A practice whereby the jurors are asked individually whether they assented, and still assent, to the verdict. 

POLYGRAPH : Lie detector. 

POSTPONEMENT : The continuance of a suit in court to a later date. 

PRE-DISPOSITION REPORT or PRE-PLEA (PDI): Also known as a social history, this is a pre-disposition investigation, which contains much of the same information as its adult counterpart. 

PRE-SENTENCE INVESTIGATION (PSI): The formal report prepared for the county by a probation officer which provides various background information and assessment data on a convicted offender, which the court uses in deciding the appropriate sanctions and follow-up treatment/programming needs of the convicted offender.  M.S. §609.115. 

PRECEDENT : A past legal decision relied on as authority for deciding a current case with similar facts or similar issues. 

PRELIMINARY HEARING: Hearing(s) that take place before trial to settle motions, resolve disputes in the discovery process, or expedite pre-trial proceedings. 

PREMEDITATION : Consideration or planning of an act beforehand that shows intent to commit that act. 

PREPONDERANCE OF THE EVIDENCE: Burden of proof in a civil matter. 

PRESUMPTIONS : Conclusions reached by means of proved circumstances. 

PRESUMPTIVE SENTENCE: The sentence that is "presumed appropriate" for a given offender, based on the offender's criminal history and the severity of the current offense.  The presumptive sentence is a range of months that is found on a grid in the Minnesota Sentencing Guidelines

PRE-TRIAL CONFERENCE: A conference held between the parties and the judge before a trial is held in order to clarify the issues for trial and to explore settlement options.  The date of the conference is set by the Scheduling Order.  For more information, see Rule 16 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules 111 through 114 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

PRE-TRAIL HEARING: A court procedure during which the issues to be tried are narrowed and certain facts and admissions are agreed upon in order to speed up the trial. 

PRIMA FACIE: A case which as proceeded upon sufficient proof to that stage where it will support findings if evidence to the contrary is disregarded. 

PRO SE: When a party is not represented by a lawyer but is representing himself/herself. 

PRO BONO: Legal services performed free of charge. 

PROBABLE CAUSE: Having more evidence for, than against, an apparent state of facts which would induce a reasonably intelligent and prudent person to believe that the accused person has committed the crime charged in a criminal case. 

PROBATE : The action or process of: (1) Proving the validity of a decedent’s will, (2) Determining heirs, (3) Appointing a personal representative (4) Handling conservatorships or guardianships of minor or incapacitated persons, all before a competent judicial body. 

PROBATE ASSETS: Property of the decedent available for the payment of debt and legacies.(Most often assets held in decedent's name alone.) 

PROBATE REGISTRAR: The judge or the person designated by the Judge to perform the function of informal probate proceedings, as provided in Minnesota Statues §524.1-307. 

PROBATION : A court-ordered sanction placing certain conditions on a convicted offender, which could include some local jail or workhouse time, but allowing the offender to remain in the community under supervision of a probation officer.  M.S.§609.135. 

PROCEEDING : An action at law and suit in equity. 

PROOF : Proof is the conclusion drawn from the evidence.  It is any fact or circumstance which leads the judge or jury to determine the reality of the fact alleged. 

PROPERTY : Both real and personal...or any interest therein and means anything that might be the subject of ownership. (See tangible property and intangible property.) 

PROSECUTOR : A lawyer who represents the government in bringing legal proceedings against an alleged wrongdoer. 

PROXIMATE CAUSE: That which in the ordinary cause of events, unbroken by another cause, produces an injury and without which the injury would not have taken place. 

PUBLIC DEFENDER: A lawyer employed by the government for defendants who cannot afford to hire their own lawyer to defend them. 

QUASH: To annul or make void. 

QUITCLAIM DEED: A document by which a person transfers all of his interest in a piece of real estate.  It does not include a warranty of title, nor does it profess that the title is valid. 

RAPE: Sexual intercourse with a woman by a man without her consent and chiefly by force or deception. 

RASMUSSEN HEARING: A hearing to test the constitutionality and admissibility of statements made by the defendant that are in the nature of a confession and items seized from the defendant. 

REASONABLE DOUBT: Enough doubt so that a criminal defendant should not be convicted. 

REBUTTAL : In pleading on evidence, defeating or taking away the effect of something. 

RECIDIVIST : A person who falls back into criminal behavior; a habitual criminal. 

RECIPROCAL SUPPORT ACT: Agreement usually between states whereby the responding state takes action to collect payments or dues for the initiating state (welfare). 

RECKLESS : Marked by lack of proper caution; careless of consequences, negligent. 

RECOGNIZANCE : In cases of giving bail to get out of jail, it is a promise to appear at a later time.  Your promise - your own recognizance - is sufficient to be released without posting bond or a security. 

RECORD : A written memorial of all acts and proceedings in an action or suit in a court of record.  The history of the proceedings of the trial. 

REFEREE : A judicial officer to whom a cause pending in a court is referred by the court, to take testimony, hear the parties and report thereon to the court.  Typically they have jurisdiction to dispose of non­contested cases. 

REHABILITATION : Permanently change behavior. 

RELEVANT : Evidence that directly relates to the issue as it either proves or disapproves the point. 

REMAND : To return a case to a lower court for corrective action. 

REMOVAL : In a broad sense, the transfer of a person or thing from one place to another.  In conciliation court, the process of appealing a case from county or municipal court to district court.   

REPLEVIN : A legal action instituted to recover possession of property that was unlawfully taken or detained. 

REPLICATION(OR REPLY): A pleading- filed by the plaintiff to answer the material set forth in the defendant's plea. 

REPRIMAND : A severe or formal reproof. 

REQUEST FOR PRODUCTION: Written questions served on an opposing party or attorney during the discovery period which ask the party to release documents or other things in its control.  These questions generally must be answered, signed by the party answering them, and returned to the party asking the questions 30 days after they are received.  Requests for Production are governed by Rule 34 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure. 

RES JUDICATA: Rule that final judgment or decree on merits by court of competent jurisdiction is conclusive of rights of parties in all later suits on points and matters determined in former suit. 

RESIDUARY ESTATE: The portion of a decedent's estate that is left after the payment of specific legacies, debts, and estate administration expenses. 

RESISTING ARREST: Attempting to prevent being taken or detained in custody by authority of law. 

RESPONDENT : Person who answers a lawsuit. 

RESTITUTION : A sanction ordered by the court as part of the sentence of an offender.  It usually involves the payment of money by the offender to his/her victim through the local corrections agency. 

RETROACTIVE : To make effective as of date prior to enactment. 

REVERSED : The annulling or making void a judgment on account of some error or irregularity. 

REVIEW : Reconsideration or judicial re-examination for purpose of correcting earlier decision. 

REVOCATION OF A WILL: An act by a person who has made a will indicating his/her intention that the will shall no longer be effective. 

REVOKE : To cancel, terminate. 


RITO: Research and Information Technology Office-State Court Administration 

RULE : A standard or regulation to govern judicial and other procedures. 

RULE 25 ASSESSMENT: A chemical dependency assessment conducted by a certified assessor on any convicted offender as ordered by the court. 

SANCTION: A penalty for conduct which violates a court order, rule, or statute.  A sanction may include the cost of the other side's attorneys' fees or may include the dismissal of a pleading or the case.  Sanctions may be ordered if a pro se litigant or an attorney brings a frivolous or bad faith lawsuit under Rule 11 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure and Minnesota Statutes Section §549.21. 

SATISFACTION OF JUDGMENT: A document stating that a recorded judgment has been paid. 

SCCE: Supreme Court Continuing Education (formally: Supreme Court Office of Continuing Education for State Court Personnel), an office of State Court Administration. 

SCHEDULING ORDER.- A court order sent to the parties or their attorneys which gives a time-line of the litigation and indicates when certain pleadings must be served and filed.  The court will also set the trial date and the pretrial conference dates through a Scheduling Order.  See Rules 111 through 114 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

SCHWARTZ HEARING: A hearing held after a verdict is returned to determine if there was juror misconduct during trial. 

SCAO: State Court Administrator’s Office. 

SCRIVENER : Author of a will. 

SEALED VERDICT: Judge may tell the jury that they may seal their verdict in an envelope and bring it into court at some later time. 

SEARCH WARRANT: Written order by a judge directing that certain described places or persons be searched in order to obtain evidence for a trial. 

SEISIN: The ownership or the right to immediate possession of land or an interest in real estate. 

SELF-DEFENSE :(1) Act of defending oneself or one's property. (2) A plea of justification for the use of force or fear of homicide. 

SELF-INCRIMINATION : The giving of evidence or answering of questions the tendency of which would subject oneself to criminal prosecution. 

SENTENCE : The penalty imposed by the court on a convicted person. 

SENTENCE-TO-SERVE (STS): A sentencing option available to most courts wherein a convicted offender "works off" his/her fine by performing a specified number of hours of public service work under the supervision of a work crew leader employed by the state or a local corrections agency.  Some courts also sentence offenders to STS rather than jail or workhouse time. 

SENTENCING GUIDELINES: Sentencing standards for felons.  Criminal History   -Past criminal offenses are considered to determine this.  Serious offenses are weighted more heavily.  Presumptive Sentence-The disposition prescribed by the sentencing guidelines.  Upward/downward departure-Imposition of a sentence that is more or less severe than called for in the sentencing guidelines, respectively. 

SENTENCE HEARING: A hearing before a judge to determine the appropriate sanction to be imposed upon a person convicted of a crime.  Defense and prosecution speak, witnesses may be called.  Victim has the right to make an impact statement.  Defendant has the right of allocution.  Judge imposes sentence. 

SEPARATE WRITING:Documents or lists in the testator's own handwriting that dispose only of tangible personal property. ( As opposed to intangible property which is real estate and financial "liquid" assets). 

SEQUESTER : To separate or isolate.  For example, to sequester jurors during a trial is to isolate them from the public during the trial. 

SEQUESTRATION OF WITNESS: Excluding witness from the courtroom so that he or she cannot hear the testimony of other witnesses. 

SERVICE : The means by which other parties must receive pleadings.  All pleadings and court filings must be "served," that is, delivered to all other parties in the action, or if represented by an attorney, delivered to their attorney.  Delivery may be by U.S. Mail or by hand delivery. (A Summons and Complaint cannot be served/delivered by the plaintiff him or herself.) More information may be found regarding service requirements in Rules 3 through 6 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure and Rules 1.03 and 7 of the General Rules of Practice for the District Courts. 

SETTLEMENT : In reference to a decedent's estate, includes the full process of administration, distribution and closing. 

SETTLEMENT : When parties to a suit have agreed to adjust all of each others grievances without going to trial. 

SHOPLIFTING : To steal (goods on display) from a store. 

SJIS: State Judicial Information System. 

SLANDER : The speaking of false words concerning another which injures his/her reputation. 

SOLICITATION : To proposition a person for the purpose of prostitution. 

SPECIAL ADMINISTRATION: An expeditious proceeding, either formally or informally, that protects an estate of a decedent prior to the appointment of a personal representative. 

SPECIAL ADMINISTRATOR: A person appointed by the court or registrar to perform the duties specified under a Special Administration. 

SPECIAL VERDICT: A verdict where the jury determines the facts of a case, usually by answering questions on the verdict form.  The judge is then responsible for applying the law to the facts. 

SPECIFIC PERFORMANCE: An equitable remedy ordering the performance of a contract in the specific form in which it was made according to the precise terms agreed upon, since money damages would be inadequate. 

SPEEDY TRIAL: The 6th amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees a speedy trial in all criminal cases. 

SPREIGL HEARING: Pre-trial hearing at which the admissibility of evidence of defendant's commission of other crimes is tested. 

STANDARD OF PROOF: The burden of proof required in a particular type of case. 

STANDBY COUNSEL: An attorney appointed to assist a defendant who is representing him or herself (“pro se” defendant). 

STARE DECISIS: Doctrine that when the court has once laid down a principle of law as applicable to certain state of facts, it will adhere to that principle and apply it to all future cases. 

STATE : Party in a criminal trial, represents the public. 

STATUS OFFENSES: In juvenile law, offenses committed by a juvenile that are crimes only because they were committed by a juvenile (truancy for example). 

STATUTE OF LIMITATION: A law prescribing that a suit on certain types of claims must be brought within a specific time period. 

STATUTE OF FRAUDS: A series of legal provisions requiring certain contracts to be in writing. 

STATUTE : A law passed by a legislative body. 

STATUTORY LAW: A law enacted by a legislature. 

STATUTORY RAPE: Sexual intercourse or sexual contact with a juvenile. 

STAY : A stopping or delaying of a judicial proceeding or order, often used to give a party an opportunity to appeal the decision of a judge before the order goes into effect. 

STAYED SENTENCE: The court frequently has discretion in the severity of the sentence it imposes.  Many times the court may hand down a sentence and withhold carrying it out, providing that the offender complies with a sentence containing alternative sanctions.  The court is in fact telling the offender that he/she is getting a second chance, but if the alternative sanctions are not complied with, the harsher penalties can and likely will be imposed.  A person who receives a stayed sentence is typically placed on probation to community corrections.  There are three types of stayed sentences: 

Stay of Adjudication: The conviction is never entered on the offender's record, providing that the offender complies with court-ordered conditions.  Per Minnesota's appellate courts, stays of adjudication may be ordered by a judge only when the prosecutor abused his or her discretion in charging the case, unless the stay of adjudication is otherwise statutorily authorized (i.e. a first-time 5th degree controlled substance offense).  This is different from diversion as the diversion decision is one made by the county attorney before or just after charging, and is made pre-plea or finding of guilt.

  • Stay of Execution: If the offender completes the conditions imposed by the court, the sentence remains stayed, but the offense remains a felony for purposes of the offender's record (i.e. "Once a felony, always a felony."
  • Stay of Imposition: If the offender completes the conditions imposed by the court, the level of offense is reduced to a misdemeanor (from a felony) at completion of the probationary period.  M.S. §609.135.

STIPULATION: A written or oral agreement between attorneys or parties concerning some phase of a lawsuit. 

SUBPOENA : A process to make a witness to appear and give testimony before a court at the time stated. 

SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM: A process by which the court commands a witness, who has in his/her possession some document that is pertinent to the issue of a pending controversy, to bring the documentary evidence when he/she appears to testify. 

SUBSTANTIATED FACTS: Facts that have been verified.

SUBSTANTIVE LAW: The branch of law that prescribes legal rights. 

SUCCESSOR PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: A personal representative other than a special administrator, who is appointed to succeed a previously appointed personal representative [who has died or resigned]. 

SUE : To take legal action to settle a dispute. 

SUMMARY JUDGMENT MOTION: A motion in which a party asks the court to decide the litigation in his or her favor before the case goes to trial.  Such motions are typically supported by affidavits.  More information is available in the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure, Rule 56, and the General Rules of Practice, Rules 115 and 116. 

SUMMARY JUDGMENT: A procedure under Rule 56 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure whereby the judge may determine there is no genuine issues as to any material fact and that a party is entitled to judgment. 

SUMMONS : A written document notifying the defendant that an action has been started against him/her and requiring him /her to appear in court within a specified length of time to answer the complaint. 

SUPERSEDEAS: A writ containing a command to stay proceedings, such as the enforcement of a judgment pending an appeal. 

SUPERVISED RELEASE: Release of an offender or alleged offender under supervision of court, usually a probation officer. 

SUPERVISED ADMINISTRATION: A probate administration conducted under the continuing authority of the court, from beginning to end. 

SUPPORT : An award in legal separation or dissolution for the care, support, and education of any child of the marriage or of the parties. 

SUPPRESS EVIDENCE: To prohibit, or present the introduction of statements, records or documents at trial. 

SURROGATE : The title sometimes given to the judge who presides in the court where estates of decedents are administered. 

SURVIVAL CLAUSE:A statement incorporated in a will that may require devisee(s) to survive the testator for a specified period of time. 

SUSPENDED SENTENCE: If certain conditions are met, a jail sentence need not be served.  The sentence is then suspended. 

SUSTAIN : To uphold by the court objections made. 

TAB CHARGE: Brief statement of the offense charged which is entered upon the record at the time of the defendant's first appearance if no complaint has been prepared. 

TANGIBLE PROPERTY: Personal property other than money, evidences of indebtedness, documents of title, securities, or property used in trade or business. Example: household goods, jewelry and wearing apparel. 

TCIS : Total Court Information System. 

TEMPORARY RESTRAINING ORDER: An order which may issue upon the filing of an application for an injunction forbidding the defendant to do the threatened act until a hearing can be held. 

TEMPORARY HEARING: A hearing prior to a permanent injunction or hearing. 

TESTATE : Having made a valid will. 

TESTATOR: The person making the will. 

TESTIMONY : The sworn statements of a witness or party.  Testimony is typically given orally at trial or under some circumstances may be presented in affidavit form or through a transcript of a deposition. 

TITLE : Evidence of a person's rights to the ownership of property. 

TORRENS TITLE SYSTEM: A system under which, upon the landowner's application, the court may, after appropriate proceedings, direct the issuance of a certificate of title.  With exceptions, this certificate is conclusive as to applicant's estate in land. 

TORT : A wrongful act, other than a breach of contract, committed upon the person or property of another for which a civil action may be brought. 

TRANSCRIPT : A court reporter's official record of proceedings in a trial or hearing.  Also describes the transferring of a judgment to a different jurisdiction or court - transcript of judgment. 

TRESPASS : To enter unlawfully upon the land of another. 

TRIAL : A judicial procedure during which the issues between parties are examined and the responsible party is identified. 

TRIAL DE NOVO: A trial being conducted for the second time as if the first trial was not held. 

TRUE BILL: The endorsement made by a grand jury upon a bill of indictment, when they find the indictment sustained by the evidence presented to them and are satisfied of the truth of the accusation. 

TRUST: The holding of property by one person for the benefit of another. 

TRUSTEE:  A person who holds the property for the benefit of another. 

UNLAWFUL DETAINER: A legal action between a landlord and a tenant concerning the right to occupy the premises. 

UNSUPERVISED ADMINISTRATION: A probate administration in which the court has no continuing authority. 

USURY : A term describing the imposition of an illegal rate of interest. 

VACATE: To set aside, to make ineffective.  For example, the court may vacate a judgment upon good reason shown by the party asking for this relief. 

VAGRANCY : State of having no established residence and wandering idly from place to place without lawful or visible means of support. 

VANDALISM : Willful or malicious destruction or defacement of public or private property. 

VENIRE : Technically a writ summoning persons to come to court to act as jurors. 

VENIREMAN: A member of a panel of jurors. 

VENUE : The particular county, city or geographical area in which a court with jurisdiction may hear and determine a case. 

VERDICT : A judge or jury's decision on a matter submitted to them in trial. 

VERIFICATION : An affidavit of statement under oath confirming the contents of a document. 

VIOLATION: The term used to indicate that a convicted offender, placed on probation by the court, has failed to meet one or more conditions of his/her probation.  Violations are reported to the sentencing judge who assesses the seriousness of the violation(s) and determines the consequences, at a probation revocation hearing. 

VISITATION : The right to visit or see one's child or children. 

VOIR DIRE: The preliminary questions which the judge or lawyers ask respective jurors to establish their competency to serve as juror. 

WAIVER: The act of intentionally abandoning a right, claim, or privilege. 

WARD : A person who by reason of minority or incapacity is under the protection of a court, either directly or through a guardian appointed by the court. 

WARRANT : A writ or order authorizing an arrest, a search, or some other act. 

WARRANTY : A promise that a proposition of fact is true. 

WILL : A written instrument, legally executed, by which a person makes disposition of his or her estate to take effect after death. 

WITNESS : A person who testifies under oath as to the facts of a particular issue or matter.  A witness must have first-hand knowledge of the facts in order to testify.  Testimony from a witness or witnesses is generally required when submitting exhibits to the court.  See rules 43 and 44 of the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure for more information. 

WRIT : A court order requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority to have it done.