When there is more than one definition that may apply, alternative definitions are listed, beginning with the words most commonly used in the Handbook.
Absolute: 1. With no restrictions. 2. Without conditions.
Abuse of Discretion: 1. A judge’s failure to use sound, reasonable, and legal decision making. 2. An appellate court uses this standard to review a lower tribunal’s decision that a party argues was greatly unsound or completely unreasonable.
Action: A lawsuit or other legal proceeding.
Adjudication: 1. The resolution or end result of a matter heard by the lower tribunal. 2. A judge’s decision, ruling, award or sentence.
Adjudicatory hearing: A hearing held by a lower tribunal, in the context of this Handbook, by a juvenile court to decide if a juvenile/youth has committed delinquent behavior; a trial of a youth accused of delinquency. E.g., Sue’s twelve-year-old daughter went to an adjudicatory hearing because she was accused of shoplifting.
Administrative Law: Law created by federal or state government administrative agenciesthrough making and enforcing rules and regulations and by issuing decisions and orders in any contested matter before the administrative agency hearing officer.
Administrative Agency A government body created by Congress or state or local legislatures to manage and enforce statutes on particular specific areas of law. E.g., Social Security Administration, Florida Unemployment Compensation Commission, local zoning boards.
Affidavit: A voluntary, sworn, signed and notarized written statement of facts based on the personal knowledge of the person giving the statement.
Affirm (Affirmed, Affirmance):1. To confirm or support on appeal the validity of a decision by the lower tribunal. E.g. The appellate judges affirmed the decision of the lower tribunal because they agreed with the outcome. 2. To formally declare something, but not under oath. E.g. affirm objections.
Affirmative Defense: An explanation for a defendant‘s actions that excuses or justifies his/her behavior. For example, in a criminal case, acting in self-defenseis a common affirmative defense to a charge of batteryor homicide. Other affirmative defenses include insanityand duress. In a civil action, common affirmative defenses are the other party breached the contract first and the other party is at fault for her/his injuries.
All Writs Jurisdiction: 1. The extraordinary, but rarely-used, power of a state or federal appellate court to fully decide a matter. An appellate court, however, will not use this power to review issues that should have been raised in an appeal.
Amend (Amended, Amendment): 1. To make right; to correct. E.g. The judge amended his order to fix a mistake made when the order was typed. 2. To change the wording of.
Answer Brief: A written response to the first or “Initial Brief” that was filed by the party formally asking the appellate court to rule the lower tribunal was wrong about the law or the facts. An answer brief can also be a response to a party’s motion or brief in the lower tribunal.
Appeal: 1. The act of filing the documents necessary to ask a higher tribunal to review the proceedings and outcome in the lower tribunal, and then decide there was a legal or factual mistake important enough to require a new proceeding or a different outcome. 2. To seek appellate review of a lower tribunal’s decision or order. E.g. Bob appealed his conviction because he thought the photographs should not have been shown to the jury.
Appealable: Any act or order of a lower tribunal that may be reviewed by an appellate tribunal. With rare exceptions, an act or order of the lower tribunal is appealable only if it brings an end to the proceedings in the lower tribunal.
Appellant: Any party in the lower tribunal who appeals by filing a notice, an initial brief and, if necessary, a reply brief.
Appellate: Having to do with an appeal.
Appellee: The party opposing the appellant; the party who responds to an appeal in support of the lower tribunal’s decision or order. The appellee usually files only an answer brief, but may also file a cross-appeal, then becoming both an appellee and a cross-appellant.
Appendix: Documents added to the end of a brief, petition or motion, and submitted in support of – and specifically referenced in – the brief, petition or motion.
Arbitration: A proceeding where at least one neutral person unrelated to either side helps the parties resolve the issues and problems in the lawsuit. Arbitration is often ordered by the judge so the parties might settle their disagreements without having to go to trial. Usually the decision reached at an arbitration is binding on both parties. ‘Mediation’ is often used the same way. E.g. Bob and Sue settled their disagreement through arbitration, so they did not have to go to a trial.
Archives: 1. A place or collection containing records or documents. 2. A place of storage where records or documents are kept after their usefulness is no longer apparent to those who maintain the records or documents.
Argument(s): A party’s presentation of the reasons he or she hopes will convince a tribunal his or her position is correct.
Authority: 1. The power of a tribunal. 2. The source of information or wisdom regarding how a tribunal might be persuaded to apply the law in a particular situation. ‘Authority’ includes statutes, published judicial decisions regarding similar issues, and scholarly writings.
Automatic Stay: A self-acting or self-regulating mechanism to stop efforts to collection on a money judgment.
Attorney: A lawyer; one who is licensed by the state to represent someone in that state’s courts of law or other legally authorized tribunals.
Bailable: A person or offense that is eligible for release from custody or prison in exchange for money or property as a promise that the person will show up at a future time.
Bankruptcy Court: The tribunal that applies the statutory law to most debts if a person or company is not able to pay the debts.
Body of Evidence: Collection or sum of all the documents, testimony, objects, etc., presented at trial that help to prove or disprove an ultimate fact in question. E.g. The prosecutor showed by the body of evidence that the defendant robbed the bank.
Bond: 1. A secured obligation or promise. 2. A written promise to pay money or to do some act following certain events, or the passage of time.
Brief: 1. A written statement of the legal arguments of a party in a lawsuit, especially on appeal. 2. A written document that contains legal and factual arguments, supported by references to the record, case law or statutes and other authority.
Calendar Call: A court hearing in a criminal case when the judge calls each case waiting for a trial date, determines the status of the case, and assigns a trial date.
Caption: The introduction of a court paper stating the names of the parties, the name of the court, the docket or file number, and the title of the action. Also referred to as the ‘style’.
Case: All proceedings regarding a matter filed with a tribunal.
Certificate: A document showing a right, interest or permission about which the parties disagree.
Certificate of Service: The part of a written document verifying with a signature that the other parties in the action have been served with the document.
Certification of a Class:1. An order issued by a court allowing one or two people to bring a lawsuit on behalf of a class, or group, of people with a common interest. 2. To create a class for the purposes of a class action lawsuit.
Certify: 1. To verify or prove something in writing is genuine. 2. To make a written document valid and effective by verifying with a signature the doing of some act.
Certiorari (Cert): An extraordinary writ issued by an appellate court, at its discretion, telling the lower tribunal to deliver the record in the case for review. The U.S. Supreme Court uses certiorari to review most of the cases it decides to hear.
Citation: In the context of this Handbook, a reference to a legal authority, such as a case or statute. The citation provides the way to find a case or statute within a book or law library.
Civil Case: A non-criminal lawsuit relating to private rights and remedies. E.g., a breach of contract action or an action to collect a debt owed.
Claim: 1. To say a person or entity is entitled to something. 2. Assertion of a legal right.
Claimant: A person or entity having a claim.
Clarification: Further explanation, such as to make clear something that may be confusing or misunderstood.
Class: 1. A group of people, things, qualities or activities that have something in common. 2. An uncertain number of people in a group. E.g., Bob was a member of a class action lawsuit against a car company because he was one of ten thousand others who bought a defective car.
Clerk: The Clerk of Court is the individual who is responsible for accepting and maintaining documents filed with a court. The Clerk’s office typically has a number of assistant or deputy clerks to carry out this role.
Collateral: Not directly on point or going to the heart of a subject, but rather supplementary or a side issue. E.g. “Whether Bob was wearing a seat belt is a collateral issue”; or “After his sentencing, the inmate filed a collateral post-conviction motion, arguing that his guilty plea was illegal.”
Commence: To begin or to start.
Compensable: Entitled or able to be paid for an injury.
Complaint: The first document or pleading filed in a civil (non-criminal) case that states the facts and law on which the plaintiff depends for relief and supports his or her claim and starts the case.
Conclusions of Law: A judge’s or administrative agency’s application of relevant statutes, rules, or legal principles to the facts of a case that form the basis of a decision.
Conformed: 1. To comply or be in agreement with. 2. According with contractual obligations. 3. An identical copy of a document.
Consolidate: To combine, through a court order, two or more actions (lawsuits) involving the same parties or issues into a single action.
Construe: To analyze and explain the meaning of. E.g. The court construed the language of the statute.
Contract: A legally enforceable promise to do something in exchange for the receipt of something in return.
Contrary Intent: 1. Opposed, as in character or purpose. 2. Having an opposing or opposite state of mind.
Correct the Record: To add a pleading, document, or transcript that was filed in the lower tribunal, but accidentally left out from the record on appeal.
Costs (motion for costs): Certain expenses incurred by a party during the case. Florida law provides that certain limited costs may be recovered by the winning party.
Counsel: An attorney; a lawyer.
Court: A tribunal of the government that interprets and applies the laws to specific cases within its jurisdiction. A ‘court’ is one of the ‘tribunals’ referenced herein.
Court Costs: The amount paid or charged for the preparation of a lawsuit. Court costs include, for example, compilation of the record, certified copies, filing fees, etc., and are typically limited by statutes or court rules.
Crime: The act of breaking a criminal law; an unlawful act punishable by a state, usually by a term of probation and/or incarceration.
Cross-Appeal(s): The claim of an appellee in an appeal that the lower tribunal made a mistake in not granting all of the relief requested.
Debatable: 1. Subject to more than one legitimate point of view. 2. Open to dispute; questionable.
Decision: A tribunal’s ruling based upon the law applied to the facts of a dispute.
Default Judgment: 1. A judgment entered against a defendant who has failed to plead or defend against a plaintiff’s claim, often by not appearing at trial. 2. A judgment entered as a penalty against a party for not complying with an order.
Defendant: 1. The person against whom a complaint or lawsuit is filed and who must, therefore, respond to avoid a default judgment. 2. The party against whom the government has filed criminal charges.
Defense: The facts, legal theories and evidence raised in opposition to a claim.
Deference: The extent to which an appellate court respects the authority or validity of a lower tribunal’s decision.
Denial: 1. The act of saying a claim is not true. 2. A statement that a person responding to a claim does not know enough to respond to the truth or falsity of the claim.
De Novo: 1. Anew. 2. The standard by which the appellate court uses the lower tribunal’s record but reviews the evidence and law without deference to the lower tribunal’s rulings. E.g. Bob has a better chance for a reversal on appeal because the appellate court is reviewing the case de novo.
Deposition: 1. A witness’s out of court, sworn testimony that is put into writing by a court reporter so it can be used later in court or discovery. 2. The session or meeting where testimony is recorded.
Designation: The act of identifying, listing or naming.
Direct Appeal: 1. A proceedingin which a convicted personasks a higher courtto overturn a convictionor sentencereceived in the trial courtbased on errors which appear in the trialrecord. 2. An appeal from a lower tribunal’s decision directly to the jurisdiction’s highest court, bypassing the intermediate appellate court. A direct appeal may be used when the case involves the constitutionality of a state law.
Directions (to the clerk): The document filed at the beginning of an appeal requesting that the clerk of the lower tribunal prepare the index, or list, of the items previously filed with the lower tribunal in the case.
Discovery: The fact-finding process that takes place after a lawsuit has been filed and before trial, that allows the parties to obtain information from each other that relates to the disputed claims. Generally discovery includes depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions, document production requests and requests for inspection.
Discretion: 1. A public official’s power or right to act in certain circumstances according to personal judgment. 2. The exercise of judgment by a judge or court based on what is fair and guided by the rules of law. 3. A court’s power to act or not act when a party to a lawsuit is entitled to demand the act.
Dismiss (Dismissed, Dismissal): To end without further hearing. The end of an action or claim without further hearing.
Disposition: A final settlement or determination. E.g.The court’s disposition of the case was dismissal.
Docket:1. A formal record where a judge or court clerk briefly notes and lists all the proceedings and filings in a court case; a schedule of pending cases. 2. To make a brief entry in the docket of the proceedings and filings of the court.
Document: 1. A piece of paper with written words. 2. To support with written evidence or legal authorities.
Due Process: In general terms, abasic constitutional guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away one’s life, liberty, or property.
En Banc: All judges of an appellate court participating in the decision, rather than the usual three-judge panel.
Entitlement: A right to benefits or property that cannot be withheld without due process.
Equitable: 1. Just, fair; consistent with principles of justice and right. 2. Fairness, impartiality, natural law.
Error (Erred): 1. A mistake of law or fact in a court’s judgment, opinion or order. 2. To make an error; to be incorrect or mistaken. E.g. The court erred in denying the motion.
Erroneous: Being wrong or inaccurate; involving error.
Evidence: Testimony, documents or other things presented in the lower tribunal to support a party’s position.
Exceptions: A legal pleading containing objections filed in an administrative tribunal to contest the facts or law on which a judge or hearing officer based a recommended order, and made to protect or preserve the objections for appeal.
Exhibit: 1. A document, record, or other object formally introduced as evidence in court. 2. A document attached to the end of a pleading, motion, or other written document.
Expedited Proceeding: A hearing or other court proceeding that happens as soon as the court may allow.
Extraordinary Writ: A rare order issued by a higher court to grant relief not otherwise available, such as by reviewing an otherwise unappealable order, or by commanding a lower tribunal or official to take a certain action or to stop from taking a certain action. E.g. Certiorari, habeas corpus, mandamus, prohibition.
Fact (Facts, Factual): 1. The circumstances or facts of the case, as opposed to the law; 2. A piece of information that is presented as being true or actually occurring.
File (Filed, Filing):To deliver a legal document to the court clerk for placement into the official record.
Final: A decision which ends the case.
Final Judgment Rule: A party generally may appeal only from a lower tribunal’s final decision that ends the lawsuit or proceeding. Under this rule a party generally must raise all claims of error in a single appeal. A final order or judgment ends judicial labor in the case, leaving nothing left to be done by the court.
Findings of Fact: A determination by a judge or administrative agency supporting the existence of facts shown by the evidence in the record of a trial or hearing.
Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure (or Florida Rules of Appellate Procedure): The rule or rules which govern the bringing and maintaining of an appeal in the Florida State Courts.
Frivolous: 1. Lacking a legal or factual basis; not serious. 2. Frivolous Appeal: an appeal having no basis in law or fact.
Fundamental: Of basic, critical importance; relating to the foundation of.
Guardian Ad Litem:A person, usually a lawyer, appointed by the court to appear in a lawsuit on behalf of an incompetent or minor party. Also called a “next friend.”
Habeas corpus:(“that you have the body”) A writ or order used to bring a person before a court, usually to be sure that the person is not in prison or being detained illegally.
Hearing: 1. A session, proceeding, or meeting before a judge, usually open to the public, in order to decide issues of fact or law, sometimes with witnesses testifying. 2. Any setting where an affected person makes arguments to an agency decision-maker. 3. A trial.
Holding: The part of an appellate court’s written opinion that applies the law or laws to the specific facts of a civil lawsuit or a criminal matter. .
Illegal:In violation of law, usually referring to criminal law.
Incompetent: 1. Referring to a person who is not able to manage his/her affairs because of a mental lacking (lack of I.Q., deterioration, illness or psychosis). 2. In criminal law, the inability to understand the meaning of a trial.
Incur (Incurred): To suffer or bring upon yourself, as in a liability or expense.
Index (to the record on appeal): The list of the documents filed in the lower tribunal proceeding, and is prepared by the clerk of the lower tribunal after a notice of appeal is filed.
Indigent: A person who is too poor to hire a lawyer or to pay for certain court costs, and who a lower tribunal rules is in need of a lawyer and/or a waiver of costs E.g. The court determined that Sue was indigent, so it appointed a lawyer to represent her in the termination of parental rights case.
Initial Brief:The first brief filed in an appeal, by the person who filed the appeal (the appellant); a document containing the appellant’s arguments and the law supporting those arguments, generally explaining how the lower tribunal erred and why its decision or order should be reversed.
Insolvent:See definition of indigent.
Interrogatories: Written questions given to an opposing party in a lawsuit as part of discovery.
Intervenor: A person who voluntarily enters a lawsuit because he has a personal stake in it.
Irreparable: Not able to be repaired, fixed or cured.
Issue (Issues, Issued): 1. In the context of this Handbook, an important question of law or fact that is in dispute and must be settled. 2. The term can also refer to a court giving its decision to the parties in a case. E.g., One of the appellant’s issues was whether the trial court erred in granting the motion to dismiss with prejudice; the appellate court agreed and issued an opinion reversing the dismissal.
Judge: The person in control of a legal proceeding, including administrative proceedings. E.g., administrative law judge, judge of compensation claims or circuit court judge.
Judgment:A court’s final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.
Jurisdiction: 1. A court’s power or authority to decide a case. E.g., the district courts of appeal do not have jurisdiction to review cases where the death penalty was given. 2. A geographic area within which judicial authority may be used. E.g. Bob lives in New York and he has never had any contact with another state, so the Florida court does not have jurisdiction over him. The shooting happened in Colorado and both parties are residents of Colorado, so the Florida court does not have jurisdiction to hear the case.
Law: The governing statutes, rules of procedure and appellate court opinions.
Lawsuit: A case where two or more people disagree and need a court to help them resolve their differences.
Legal: 1. Relating to the law or lawyers. 2. Permitted by law.
Legal Sufficiency: Adequate fulfillment of the minimum requirements of the law.
Liability (Liabilities; Liable): 1. An obligation, debt or responsibility owed to another or to society, enforceable by a civil lawsuit or by criminal punishment.
Litigant: A party to a lawsuit. E.g., Plaintiff, defendant, appellant, appellee.
Litigate: To contest or engage in legal proceedings.
Magistrate: A judicial officer with strictly limited jurisdiction and authority, often on the local level and often restricted to criminal cases, unless agreed to by parties in a civil case; more common in federal courts.
Mandate: An order from an appellate court directing a lower tribunal to take a specific action.
Ministerial: 1. An act that involves obedience to instructions or law instead of the use of discretion, judgment, or skill. 2. A mandatory act or duty allowing no personal discretion or judgment in its performance.
Misapprehend: To not understand correctly; to misunderstand.
Modify: To change or alter.
Motion: A written or oral request to a court to make a specific ruling or order.
Motions Practice: The filing of motions.
Movant: A party who makes a motion.
Municipality: 1. A political unit, such as a town, city, or county, incorporated for self-government. 2. A town, city, or local government unit.
Nolo Contendere: 1. No contest. 2. A criminal defendant’s plea that, while not admitting guilt, the defendant will not dispute or argue the charge.
Non-Appealable: An order or ruling which generally cannot be appealed; also referred to by some as “unappealable.”
Non-Final: An order or ruling which occurs during the case, but which does not end the case.
Notice: 1. A written or printed announcement. 2. The condition of being notified, whether or not actually aware. 3. Legal notification required by law. E.g. In order to give Sue notice that she was being sued by Bill, he published a notice in the local newspaper. Ted was able to get an extension to respond because he never received notice of the lawsuit, and Betty made no attempt to give him notice that she was suing him.
Notary Public: An individual authorized by the state to certify documents.
Notice of Appeal: The written document filed with the court announcing a party’s intention to seek review by a higher court of proceedings that took place in a lower tribunal.
Oath: The sworn pledge by a person that his or her statements are or will be true.
Object (Objection): To assert disagreement.
Opinion: The written decision of the tribunal or appellate court.
Oral Argument: A spoken presentation before a court, especially an appellate court, supporting or opposing the legal issue in the case.
Order:1. A command, direction, or instruction. 2. A written decision delivered by a court, judge, judicial officer or agency.
Partial Final Judgment: An order or decision which rules on one issue presented in the case, and brings that issue to an end, but does not end the case.
Party:1. A person who takes part in a transaction or proceeding. 2. A person by or against whom a lawsuit is brought. E.g. Plaintiff, defendant, appellant, appellee.
Penalty (non-death): A punishment.
Per Curiam: 1. By the court as a whole. 2. An opinion handed down by an appellate court without identifying the individual judge who wrote the opinion. 3. A decision issued without a written opinion explaining the court’s reasoning.
Petition: A formal written request presented to a court or other official body.
Petitioner: A party who presents a petition to a court or other official body, especially on appeal.
Plaintiff: The person who starts a lawsuit by filing a complaint in the court.
Plea: 1. An accused person’s formal response of “guilty”, “not guilty”, or “no contest” to a criminal charge.
Pleading: A formal document where a party to a legal proceeding, especially in a civil lawsuit, sets forth or responds to allegations, claims, denials, or defenses.
Plenary:1. Full; complete; entire. E.g. Plenary authority, or plenary appeal of the whole case after the final judgment.
Post: To file with the court clerk’s office. Usually, as in posting (filing) a bond to stay a money judgment pending appeal.
Postconviction: Relating to the time after a criminal conviction. E.g. The prisoner asked for postconviction relief from his sentence because he thought that twenty years in jail was too long.
Praecipes: 1. A written motion or request seeking some court action, especially a trial setting or an entry of judgment. 2. At common law, a writ ordering a defendant to do some act or to explain why he cannot act.
Prejudice: 1. Damage, harm or detriment to a person’s legal rights or claims. 2. Dismissal with Prejudice: a dismissal barring the plaintiff from prosecuting any later lawsuit on the same claim.
Preservation of Error (Preserve, Preserved): By objecting to or challenging an issue or error at the lower tribunal level, an appellant is able to raise that same argument in his appeal. The appellant must make the objection at the lower tribunal level in order to give the lower tribunal an opportunity to correct the mistake. If the appellant does not make the objection at the lower tribunal level, he may not make an argument on the same issue in his appeal.
Presumption of Correctness: A rule of law by which the finding of fact or ruling of law is presumed true subject to the presentation of other findings or rulings that may sometimes rebut the presumption
Prevailing Party: A party in whose favor a judgment is given, regardless of the amount of damages awarded. In certain cases, a court will award attorney’s fees to the prevailing party.
Privileged: Documents or statements that are protected from disclosure in court. E.g., discussions between client and attorney are privileged communications.
Procedure: The judicial rule or manner for carrying on a civil lawsuit or criminal prosecution.
Proceedings: The regular and orderly progress of a lawsuit, including all acts and events between the time the lawsuit begins and when a judgment is entered.
Production of Documents: The act of sending formally requested documents to the opposing party during discovery.
Proffer (Proffered): To offer, present or provider something (usually evidence) for immediate acceptance to create a record of excluded evidence.
Prohibition (writ of): An extraordinary writ issued by an appellate court to keep a lower tribunal from going beyond its jurisdiction or to keep a non-judicial officer or group from exercising a power.
Proposed: A suggestion, including suggested changes or additions. E.g., proposed statement of evidence or proceedings
Pro Se: 1. On your own behalf; without a lawyer. 2. A person who represents himself in a court proceedings without the help of a lawyer.
Qualified: Capable or competent.
Quash: To reverse.
Quo Warranto: 1. An action where citizens seek to enforce public rights. 2. A writ used to question government authority.
Reasonable Probability: More likely than not.
Rebuttal: 1. An in-court argument against the opposing party’s position. 2. The time given to a party to show contradictory evidence or arguments. E.g., The court gave the appellant five minutes for rebuttal, so that he could show that the appellee’s arguments were not based on good law.
Reconstruct: To rebuild, recreate or reorganize something. E.g., In the absence of a transcript, the parties asked the court to reconstruct the record.
Record:The official report of the proceedings in a case, including the filed papers, the transcript of the trial or hearing, and any exhibits.
Relief: The act that a party asks the court to take; remedy.
Remand: 1. The act of sending something back for further action, such as a case, claim or person. 2. An order of an appellate court sending a case, claim, or person back to the lower tribunal.
Remedy: The thing, act or relief sought from a tribunal by a party.
Rendition (Render):1. The action of filing a signed written order with the clerk of the lower tribunal.
Reply Brief: A brief that responds to the arguments and facts alleged in the opposing party or appellee’s previously filed answer brief.
Respondent: The party against whom a petition is filed, similar to an appellee in an appeal.
Restitution: A remedy by which a party is returned to his or her original position.
Retroactive: Application of a tribunal’s decision or law to past events.
Reversal (Reverse): An appellate court’s decision overturning of a lower tribunal’s decision, whether in whole or in part.
Review: 1. To consider or examine. 2. The request made by a party to a higher tribunal to examine the proceedings in the lower tribunal.
Rule: 1. The governing law. 2. An order or finding made by a judge or tribunal.
Run: 1. To apply. 2. To expire or end after a certain period of time. E.g. The statute of limitations had run, so the plaintiff was unable to file his lawsuit.
Sanction: A penalty resulting from a failure to follow a law, rule, or order. E.g. The defendant was sanctioned for destroying discovery documents.
Serve: 1. To make legal delivery of a notice or process. 2. To give notice to someone as required by law. E.g. The plaintiff was required to serve the defendant with notice of the lawsuit within fifteen days.
Service: The formal delivery of a legal notice or document.
Standard of Review: 1. The legal standard an appellate court uses to review a case on appeal. e.g. De novo; abuse of discretion. 2. This standard determines how much weight an appellate court will give to the lower tribunal’s decision, and determines how difficult it will be for the appellant to persuade the appellate court to overturn the lower tribunal’s decision.
Statute: A law passed by a legislative body; Congress or the state. E.g. The Florida Legislature created and passed a statute requiring all drivers to wear a seat belt.
Statute of Limitations: The time limit for filing a lawsuit. The law provides different statutes of limitations for different types of cases, i.e., negligence, breach of contract, professional liability.
Statutory: 1. Of or relating to legislation, a law or statute. 2. Created by a legislature. 3. Conforming to a statute.
Statutory Rate of Interest on Judgments: The legal amount of interest which will run on a judgment until the judgment is paid. The statutory rate of interest may change each year.
Stay (motion to): 1. An order to suspend all or part of a judicial proceeding or judgment. 2. The postponement or halting of a proceeding or judgment.
Style: The introduction of a court paper stating the names of the parties, the name of the court, the docket or file number, and the title of the action. Also referred to as the ‘caption’.
Stipulation: A voluntary agreement between opposing parties concerning a relevant issue. E.g., The defendant stipulated to his liability.
Subpoena: A document summoning a witness to appear.
Subsequent: Occurring later, coming after something else.
Substantive:1. Substantial, considerable. 2. Substantive law is the part of the law that creates, defines, and regulates the rights, duties and powers of parties; in contrast, procedural law provides the methods or procedures.
Summary Judgment: A judgment granted on a claim when there is no question about any facts that would change the outcome, and the party asking for the summary judgment is entitled to win as a matter of law. E.g., The court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendant because the plaintiff’s claim was barred by the statute of limitations.
Summons: 1. A notice requiring a person to appear in court as a juror or a witness. 2. A writ of process beginning the plaintiff’s action and requiring the defendant to appear in court and answer to the plaintiff’s claims.
Supersedeas Bond: An appellant’s bond to stay the effect of a judgment while the appeal is pending, especially a money judgment.
Supplement the record:The addition of omitted parts of the record to give more information or correct a mistake.
Suppress: To end or put a stop to, prohibit; to keep something from being heard, seen, known, or discussed. E.g., The defendant tried to suppress the evidence of his past crimes.
Surety: 1. A formal pledge, bond, guarantee, or security given for the fulfillment of a promised action. 2. A person who is primarily liable for another person’s debt or obligations.
Sworn: Having taken – or to be bound by – an oath or affirmation.
Table: An index or list of things contained in a document, usually in alphabetical order.
Terminate: To end or put an end to.
Testimony: Statements made by a person under oath, usually in court or at a deposition.
Time-barred: A bar to a legal claim because a defined length of time has passed; usually a period set forth in a statute of limitations.
Timely: Within a reasonable time as determined by the court or within the period of time determined by a rule or statute. E.g., The plaintiff’s lawsuit was not time-barred because she filed a timely claim within the two year statute of limitations.
Toll (Tolled): To stop the running of a time period, such as a deadline set by a rule of procedure, or a statute.
Transcript: A written copy of oral testimony; the official record of proceedings in a trial or hearing as taken down by a court reporter.
Treatise: A systematic, usually extensive, written discussion on a subject.
Trial: The proceeding when a judge or jury (lower tribunal) hears and sees the evidence and testimony, resulting in a jury verdict and/or final judgment.
Trial Court: The first court to consider a lawsuit.
Tribunal: The entity or persons who conduct the official business of a court or state agency. For example, “lower” tribunals include trial courts and administrative agencies. The appellate courts are “higher” tribunals, which review whether the acts of a “lower tribunal” were correct.
Unconstitutional: In violation of the state or federal constitution.
Untimely: Not timely, beyond a required deadline. E.g., The defendant’s appeal was untimely because he filed it more than 30 days after the order he was challenging, as required by the rules of procedure.
Unlicensed Practice of Law: The practice of law by a person who is not licensed to practice law by the state, which is prohibited and subject to serious penalties. E.g., a person can proceed “pro se,” meaning on their own behalf without a lawyer, but a non-lawyer cannot represent another person (other than himself or herself).
Vacate:To cancel, or make void, invalidate. E.g. The court vacated the judgment.
Venue: 1. The proper or possible place for the trial of a lawsuit, usually because the place has some connection with the events that led to the lawsuit. 2. The statement in a pleading that establishes the place for trial. 3. The county or area where a lower tribunal has jurisdiction.
Verdict: The jury’s decision.
Verify: To confirm by oath or affidavit; to swear to the truth of.
Waive: 1. To give up voluntarily; to abandon, renounce or surrender a claim, privilege or right. 2. To not insist on, such as a strict rule or formality. E.g. By pleading guilty, the defendant waived his right to a jury trial.
Workers’ Compensation: Payment to an employee injured while working in the course and scope of his or her employment. Such payments are virtually automatic, but the injured worker may not sue the employer beyond what the workers’ compensation benefits provide unless it is shown the employer meant to cause the injury.
Writ: A court’s written order, commanding the person it is addressed to, to do or refrain from doing some specified act.
Writ of Mandamus: A writ issued by a higher court to compel a lower tribunal or government officer to perform mandatory or purely ministerial duties correctly.