Glossary of terms

a

 

Abstract of judgment - a  federal tax lien on all real property of the defendant

 

Additional defendant - a party joined to an action by a defendant or an additional defendant, who may be liable to the cause of action

 

Adjudicate - to settle or to determine final by the exercise of judicial authority

 

Adjudication - the formal giving, pronouncing of a judgment or decree by the court in a case

 

Administrative judgment - a judgment that does not include statutes pertaining to law and is strictly administrative in its execution, and may not require further action by either party. In this sense administrative judgments are acts distinguished from such as are judicial, i.e. One who administrates the estate of a deceased person.

 

Ad Sectam Index - (commonly abbreviated to "Ads") an index used in entering and indexing the names of cases, where it is desired that the name of the defendant should come first. Thus, "B ads A" indicates that B is the defendant in an action brought about by A, and the title so written would be an inversion of the more usual form "A v. B."

 

Affiant - one who makes an affidavit or takes an oath (signs, swears to, or affirms)

 

Affidavit - a voluntary oath, or declaration on oath, in writing sworn to before a person who had authority to administer oaths

 

Affirm - to declare that the judgment, decree, or order is valid, right, and must stand as rendered, as in appellate court decisions

 

Alimony - support, provisions, allowances made to a wife upon a decree in divorce for necessaries or maintenance

 

Alimony Pendente Lite - allowance at the institution of a suit to pay the expenses of the suit

 

Allegation - the assertion of a claim, or a statement of what can be proved, averred in a pleading

 

Amicable - agreed to, or prosecuted with the agreement of all parties, such as Amicable Revival of Judgment

 

Answer - the response, reply, or defense to a pleading in writing

 

Appeal - the removal of a cause to a higher court for review and retrial

 

Appellant - one who takes or files an appeal

 

Appellee - the opposing party in a appealed case

 

Appearance - the coming into a court action as a party to a suit, in person or by attorney

 

Arbitration - the deciding of a civil issue, including all matters in dispute, by a board of three arbitrators

 

Arbitrator - one member of a board of arbitration deciding civil issues placed before it

 

Argument list - a calendar of causes for discussion and determination before a court, upon questions of law

 

Arrears - money unpaid after it is due

 

Assignable - subject to lawful transfer of interest or property to another person

 

Assignee - to whom the property or interest is assigned

 

Assignment - the transfer, as evidenced in writing, of property or interest from one party to another

 

Assignor - the party who assigns property or interest to another

 

Attachment - the act or process of taking, apprehending, or seizing persons or property, by virtue of writ, summons, or other judicial order, and bringing the same into the custody of the law.  A remedy ancillary to an action by which plaintiff is enabled to acquire a lien upon property or effects of defendant for satisfaction of judgment which plaintiff may obtain; nonetheless it is in all essential respects, a suit.

 

Attorney At Law - one whose profession is to represent litigants in their causes before the courts

 

Attorney In Fact - one who serves another as an agent in the doing of a particular act or thing, as specified in an instrument called a letter or power of attorney

 

Aver - to assert a statement as true

 

Averment - a positive statement of truth or formal allegation in a pleading

 

Award - to allow; to adjudge as due; to find; a judgment of the arbitrators upon the matters submitted

 

B

 

Bill of Particulars - a statement of particulars, in writing, and formal in arrangement, usually in a divorce action

 

Bond - any instrument in writing that legally binds a party to do a certain thing; an obligation

 

Bond forfeiture - the object of bond in civil cases is either directly or indirectly to secure payment of debt or performance of other civil duties.  Forfeiture of that object is the deprivation or destruction of a right as the consequence of the nonperformance of some obligation or condition

 

Bench warrant - process issued by the court itself, for the attachment or arrest of a person; either in the case of contempt, or to bring in a witness who does not obey the subpoena

 

Bifurcation - to divide into two parts or categories; i.e. Bifurcation separates the termination of the marriage from the distribution of property so that the marriage and each party's personal life are not restricted or disadvantaged

 

Brief - a concise statement of facts

 

C 

 

Call of a list - the inquiry in open court as to what causes of action on a list are ready for trial, argument or other fixed action

 

Capias - "That you take."  The general name for several species of writs, the common characteristic of which is that they require the officer to take their defendant into custody. They are writs of attachment or arrest; i.e. a judicial writ, a writ of execution, a writ in all respects an execution for collection of a fine. (Now known as Civil Bench Warrant)

 

Caption - the heading of a legal document, indicating the parties, the court, and the case number of the action or cause

 

Case - an action, suit, or cause, which includes a statement of facts which furnishes occasion for the exercise of the jurisdiction of a court, in law or equity

 

Certification - a certification is a declaration by the prothonotary or responsible authority required to perform an act, that the act has been accomplished according to law or that a document is authentic or a record, index, or docket is accurate and/or complete

 

Certified copy - a copy made and attested to by the officer entrusted with the custody of the original; that it is a true copy of that original

 

Certiorari - a writ by which the record of a proceeding in a lower court is removed into a higher court for review or inquiry

 

Chattel mortgage - a mortgage of personal property

 

Civil action - an action where an issue for trial in a new matter and formed by the facts of the complaint, as an adversary proceeding for declaration, enforcement, or protection of a right, or redress, or prevention of a wrong

 

Civil law - a personal action which is instituted to compel payment, or the doing of some other thing which is purely civil. That rule of action which every particular nation, commonwealth, or city has established peculiarly for itself.

 

Claimant - one who demands a thing as a matter of right, or who files a claim as the law requires

 

Cognovit Actionem - confession of judgment after service of process; instead of entering a plea, acknowledging and confessing that the plaintiff's cause of action is just and right

 

Cognovit note - a promissory note which contains a provision authorizing an attorney, agent, or other representative to confess judgment on the instrument and direct entry of such judgment

 

Complaint - in civil action, the complaint is the first or initiatory pleading on the part of the plaintiff. A cross-complaint may be filed by the defendant named in the complaint.

 

Condemnation - process of taking private property for public use through the power of eminent domain

 

Condemnee - owner of property taken by condemnation

 

Condemnor - party taking property by condemnation

 

Confession of judgment - a voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the court, giving by consent, and without the service of process, what could otherwise be obtained by complaint or other formal proceeding

 

Consolidation of actions - a direction that one of several pending actions, involving the same facts and issues, shall be tried, the result of the trial to be an adjudication of all the causes; or else that all the actions proceed to trial and judgment as one suit

 

Consumer credit transaction - a credit transaction in which the party to whom credit is offered or extended is a natural person and the money, property, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes

 

Continuance - adjournment, postponement to another term of court

 

Costs - the expenses of an action recoverable from the losing party; the sums prescribed by law as charges for services enumerated in the fee bill

 

Counter-claim - a cross-demand, existing in favor of the defendant

 

Custody - in the care or possession of, such as a child, a lunatic or money, property

 

D               Return to top

 

Damages - the compensation which the law will award for an injury done

 

Debtor - one who owes another anything, or is under obligation to pay a sum of money to another

 

Declaratory judgment - a judgment which simply declares the rights of the parties or expresses

 

Decree - the decision, judgment, or sentence of a court of equity

 

Decree Nisi - a provisional decree; interlocutory judgment; may be made absolute on motion

 

Default - am omission, neglect, or failure to do something required by law, or by a court administering the law

 

Default judgment - a judgment rendered upon an omission by the defendant to take a necessary step in the action within the proper time, for example, a failure to plead, such omission being a default entitling a party to have judgment rendered in his favor, usually, but not invariably, without proof of his claim except as evidence is required to establish damages

 

Deficiency judgment - a personal judgment rendered against any person liable for the mortgage debt, in the event of a deficiency on foreclosure for the amount of such deficiency (Real Estate only)

 

Defendant - one who is called upon in a court to make satisfaction for an injury done or complained of; a person sued or prosecuted; a respondent

 

Deposition - written testimony of a witness given in the course of a judicial proceeding, at law or in equity

 

Directed verdict - a verdict which a jury returns as directed by the court

 

Direct index - an index, in the usual or natural course or line, immediately upwards or downwards, that contains references, alphabetically arranged, to the contents of a series or collection of volumes; or an addition to a single volume or set of volumes containing such references to its contents

 

Discontinuance - the cessation of an action

 

Dismiss - to send out of court for defect or insufficiency in law

 

Divorce - the dissolution by law of a marital relation

 

Docket - a book containing a brief writing or statement of the progress of a case. A Judgment Index or Indices may also be considered a docket

 

Docketing - the practice of maintaining a formal record, by entering in brief all the important acts done in the conduct of each case, from its inception to its conclusion

 

E

 

Ejectment - an action to recover possession of realty, with damages for the wrongful detention

 

Eminent Domain - the power to take private property for public use

 

Equity - an action requiring jurisdiction in cases of right, where a plain, adequate, and complete remedy cannot be had in the courts of law

 

Election District - a district, division, or precinct established in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Election Code, within which all qualified electors vote at one polling place

 

Et Ux - and wife

 

Et Al - and others

 

Ex Parte - on behalf of one side

 

Exception - objection made, usually to an order of court

 

Exemplification - an official transcript of a record, for use as evidence, or to be used in place of the original

 

Exhibit - a document or thing to be produces and identified for use as evidence, before a jury, referee, master, or in the course of pleading

 

Expunge - to obliterate, deface, efface; to do away with, strike out of existence

 

F

 

Filing - in general, "File" or "the Files" is used loosely to denote official custody of the court or the place in the offices of a court where the records and papers are kept. In practice, to put upon the files, or deposit in the custody or among the records of a court; to deliver an instrument or other paper to the proper officer for the purpose of being kept on file by the officer in the proper place

 

Filing fee - as used in this manual includes Prothonotary's fee as well as all applicable state taxes and surcharges

 

Foreign Judgment Lien - a lien may be obtained on the basis of a judgment gained in another jurisdiction. This lien would bind the real estate of a Pennsylvania judgment debtor, in favor of the holder of a foreign judgment, giving the right to levy on the land for the satisfaction of the foreign judgment to the exclusion of other adverse interests subsequent to the foreign judgment

 

G

 

Garnish - to attach property or a debt due belonging to a defendant

 

Garnishee - one in whose hands money or goods have been attached

 

Guardian - a person who legally has the general care and management of a minor/incapacitated person

 

Guardian Ad Litem - a person appointed by the court to represent a minor/incapacitated person in a specific suit

 

H 

 

Habeas Corpus - the name given to a variety of writs, having for their object to bring a party before a court or judge

 

I                        Return to top

 

In Forma Pauperis - describes permission given to an indigent person to sue without liability for costs

 

In Personam - against a person

 

In Re - in regard to, or in the matter of

 

In Rem - against a thing

 

Incapacitated person - an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that the person is partially or totally unable to manage financial resources or to meet the essential requirements for physical health and safety

 

Indigent - poor, without sufficient means

 

Injunction - a writ issued to prohibit a person or make a person refrain from doing some particular thing

 

Interpleader - a third person is made a party to an action against his will by an adverse action

 

Interrogatory - a series of written questions prepared by counsel for the examination of a party to a suit

 

Intervention - a person is permitted to become a party to an action when he voluntarily seeks to do so

 

Issue - the act of issuing, sending forth, emitting, or promulgating; the giving a thing its first inception; as the issue of an order or a writ.  Issues also may arise from matters of fact or conclusion of law during a pleading by the parties

 

J

 

Judgment - the final consideration and determination by the court of the rights of the parties, as those rights presently exist, upon matters submitted to it in an action or proceeding.  The judicial determination or sentence of the court upon a matter within its jurisdiction.  The conclusion of the law upon the matters contained in the record or the application of the law to the pleadings and to the facts as they appear from the evidence in the case, and as found by the court or jury, admitted by the parties, or as deemed to exist upon their default in the course on judicial proceedings.

 

Judgment by Confession - judgment entered where the defendant, instead of entering plea, confessed action, or withdrew plea and confessed action. Judgment where the defendant gives the plaintiff a written confession of action by virtue of which the plaintiff enters judgment. The act of a debtor in permitting judgment to be entered against him/her by his/her creditor for a stipulated sum, by warranty of an attorney.

 

Judgment by Consent - a judgment entered by consent of the parties for the purpose of executing a compromise and settlement of an action, in effect, an agreement or contract of the parties acknowledged in court, and ordered to be filed, with the sanction of the court. A consent judgment is a determination by the parties rather than by the court

 

Judgment by default - see Default Judgment

 

Judgment by operation of law - a judgment which exists without the need for any ministerial act and which arises out of the existence of facts readily verifiable from the domestic relations section's records.  The existence of a valid support order and nonpayment of the order, together, create a judgment.

 

Judgment creditor - a creditor who has secured a judgment against a debtor for the amount of the debt; a person in whose favor a judgment had been entered which has not been satisfied

 

Judgment debtor - a person against whom a judgment has been entered and which has not been satisfied

 

Judgment docket - the public record containing reliable information in regard to the existence or lien of judgments

 

Judgment for money - a judgment which directs the payment of a sum of money, as distinguished from directing an act to be done or property to be restored or transferred.  A judgment for money merely determines the amount due.

 

Judgment lien - security for the judgment debt.  A lien predicted upon the rendition or entry of judgment, the same being the right given the judgment creditor to subject by levy or seizure the property of the judgment debtor to the satisfaction of the judgment.

 

Judgment note - a promissory note with a power of attorney authorizing entry of judgment by confession, in default of payment

 

Judgment of Non Pros - a judgment entered when the plaintiff at any stage of the proceedings fails to prosecute the action, or any part of it, for example, a failure to fie a complaint, in due time

 

Judgment on the pleadings - a judgment rendered on motion in favor of the defendant for failure of he plaintiff to state a good cause of action in the complaint, declaration, or petition; in favor of the plaintiff where the defendant fails to state in the answer a defense sufficient in law to the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff or fails to tender any real issue of facts in the case

 

Judgment on the verdict - a judgment rendered on a verdict of a jury as distinguished from a judgment rendered on a decision by the court in a trial without a jury

 

Judicial judgment - the official and authentic decision and/or adjudication of a court of law upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated and submitted to its determination.  The term "judgment' is also used to denote the reason which a court gives for its decision; however, the latter is usually referred to as an "opinion."

 

Jurisdiction - the power of the court over the parties and subject matter in contest and the authority of the court to render the judgment or decree which it makes

 

Jury - a body of persons sworn to decide a matter of fact in controversy in a court of justice

 

L                   Return to top

 

Lawsuit - an action between adversary parties

 

Letter of Attorney - the instrument conferring power of attorney upon an agent

 

Letters Rogatory - a request by one court of another court in an independent jurisdiction, that a witness be examined upon interrogatories sent with the request.  This process is used between countries as well as states.

 

Lien - the tie that binds property to a debt or claim for its satisfaction

 

Lis Pendens - a notice filed for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation, and that they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.  The notice is for the purpose of preserving rights of pending litigation.

 

Litigant - a party of a lawsuit

 

Litigation - a judicial proceeding

 

M-N-O

 

Mandamus - a legal proceeding that a prisoner takes against an individual to get back personal property taken from him or if they were treated wrongfully

 

Ne Exeat - a writ which forbids the person to whom it is addressed to leave the country, the state, or the jurisdiction of the court.  Available in some cases to keep a defendant within the reach of the court's process, where the ends of justice would be frustrated if he should escape from the jurisdiction.  Sometimes a ne exeat writ is issued only to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction, and sometimes it is issued against a person who is removing or attempting to remove property beyond the jurisdiction.

 

New matter - in a pleading, matter not previously alleged

 

Nisi - a rule or order which is to become absolute unless cause to the contrary be shown

 

Non Pros Judgment - see Judgment of Non Pros

 

Notice of Lis Pendens - a notice filed for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation and that if they purchase the defendant's claim to the same, they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.  The notice is for the purpose of preserving rights of pending litigation.

 

Nunc Pro Tunc - Now for then.  Said of a thing done in the present time which is to have the same effect as if it had been done at a time gone by, when it should have been done.

 

Opinion - the statement of reasons advanced by a judge or court in support of a decision rendered

 

Order - the judgment or conclusion of the court upon any motion or proceeding

 

P

 

Per Annum - by the year; yearly

 

Per Capita - by the head; individually

 

Per Curiam - by the court

 

Per Diem - by the day; daily

 

Per Se - by itself

 

Peremptory challenge - an absolute challenge to members of a jury based on alleged facts from which, if proven to be true, incapacity to serve is conclusively presumed

 

Personalty - personal property, as opposed to realty

 

Petit Jury - a petit jury consists of twelve persons impaneled and sworn, in courts having trial jurisdiction, to try and determine by a true unanimous verdict, any question or issue of fact, in any civil action or proceeding according to law and the evidence as given them n court.  Petit is used to distinguish it from grand jury

 

Petition - a written application to bring before the court a matter in regard to which judicial action is necessary, a suit being inappropriate

 

Petitioner - the person presenting a petition

 

Plaintiff - the party in whose favor the suit purports, on the record, to have been instituted

 

Plead - to carry on a suit or plea; to litigate; to make an allegation of fact in a cause

 

Pleading - the statement, in logical and legal form, of the facts which constitute the cause of action or the ground of defense

 

Poundage - a percentage or allowance of a portion of money paid into court, held by the officer for payment to the municipality

 

Praecipe - a paper containing the particulars for a writ with an instruction to the officer who is to issue it

 

Prayer - a petition or request that the court grant the relief desired

 

Prima Facie - a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary.  A prima facie case, then, is one which is established by sufficient evidence and can be overthrown only by rebutting evidence presented on the other side.  A commonly used term is prima facie evidence.

 

Pro Hac Vice - for this turn

 

Pro Se - representing oneself

 

Proceeding - any step taken by a party in the progress of an action

 

Process - specifically it means the writ, summons mandate, or other process which is used to inform the defendant of the institution of proceedings against him/her and to compel his/her appearance in a civil case

 

Promissory note - a plain and direct engagement in writing, to pay a sum certain at the time specified to the person therein named, or to the bearer at large

 

Protection from Abuse (PFA) - The Protection From Abuse Act is a vanguard civil measure, dealing with problems of wife and child abuse and is designed to protect against abuse not only between family or household members who reside together, but also between unmarried persons living together

 

Prothonotary - the head clerk, whose principal duty is to make and preserve accurate records of proceedings as prescribed by law; the chief scribe in court

 

R                   Return to top

 

Real Property - consists of such things as are permanent, fixed, immovable, and cannot be moved from the place in which they subsist

 

Record - to write or enter in official books for authentic evidence or for reference

 

Reinstate - to restore to former position with reference to other persons or things

 

Remand - to return from whence it came; when an order sends a cause back to the original court of jurisdiction

 

Replevin - legal remedy for any unlawful detention of personalty

 

Respondent - one who makes or files an answer in a cause

 

S

 

Scire Facias - a judicial writ, founded upon some matter of record, such as a judgment or recognizance, and requiring the person against whom it is brought to show cause why the party bringing it should not have advantage of such record or why the record should not be annulled and vacated

 

Service - the delivery or communication of a pleading, notice, or other paper in a suit to the opposite party, so as to charge that party with the receipt of it, and subject him/her to its legal effect

 

Specific performance - the branch of equity jurisprudence that compels a party to perform a contract, specifically

 

Statement of Objection - the act of a party who categorically objects to some matter or proceeding in the course of a trial, or an argument or reason argued by a party in support of a contention that the matter or proceeding objected to is improper or illegal

 

Subpoena - a writ requiring a person to appear at a certain time and place, or pay a penalty or undergo punishment

 

Subpoena Duces Tecum - a subpoena that directs the person to bring something

 

Summary Judgment - a summary judgment is any proceeding where a controversy is settled.  A case disposed of, or trial conducted in a prompt and simple manner, without the aid of a jury, or in other respects out of the regular course of the common law.

 

Summons - a notice to a defendant that an action has been commenced against him/her, and that he/she is required to answer the complaint, which is either attached to the summons, or will be filed in the proper clerk's office

 

Supersedeas - the name of a writ containing a command to stay the proceedings at law.  A suspension of the power of a trial court to issue an execution of judgment appealed from, or, if writ of execution has issued, it is a prohibition emanating from court of appeal against execution of writ.

 

Support arrears judgment - on and after the date it is due, each and every support obligation shall constitute a judgment against the obligor by operation of law, with the full force, effect, and attributes of a judgment of court, including the ability to be enforced, and shall be entitled as a judgment to full faith and credit in this or any other state

 

Surety - a person bound with a principal for the payment of a sum of money or for the performance of some duty or promise, and who is entitled to be indemnified by someone who ought to have paid or performed if payment or performance is to be enforced against him/her

 

Swear - to take an oath before an officer employed to administer oaths

 

T                  Return to top

 

Terre-tenant - the person who is in actual possession of a piece of land, as distinguished from the owner, real or alleged; also the owner of the legal, as distinguished from the equitable, estate

 

Tipstaff - an officer who waits upon a court in session, preserving order, caring for jurors and juries

 

Transcript - an official copy

 

Traverse jury - a petit jury; a trial jury; a jury impaneled to try an action or prosecution, as distinguished from a grand jury

 

Trial - the examination of the matter of facts in an issue

 

v

 

Venire - to come or appear in court

 

Venue - the proper county for a cause to be tried

 

Verdict - the findings of a jury

 

Versus - against

 

Voir Dire - to speak the truth.  Referring to the examination of a prospective juror or witness, to ascertain whether the person possesses the required qualifications, the person having been sworn to make true answers to the questions about to be asked concerning the matter

 

W

 

Waiver - the voluntary relinquishment of some right

 

With prejudice - the term as applied to judgment of dismissal is as conclusive of rights of parties as if action had been prosecuted to final adjudication adverse to the plaintiff

 

Without prejudice - a dismissal "without prejudice" allows a new suit to be brought on the same cause of action

 

Witness - one who gives evidence in a cause before a court

 

Writ - process in a civil suit

 

Writ of Ne Exeat - a writ which forbids the person to whom it is addressed to leave the country, the state, or the jurisdiction of the court.  Available in some cases to keep a defendant within the reach of the court's process, where the ends of justice would be frustrated it he should escape from the jurisdiction.  Sometimes a ne exeat writ is issued only to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction, and sometimes it is issued against a person who is removing or attempting to remove property beyond the jurisdiction

 

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a

 

Abstract of judgment - a  federal tax lien on all real property of the defendant

 

Additional defendant - a party joined to an action by a defendant or an additional defendant, who may be liable to the cause of action

 

Adjudicate - to settle or to determine final by the exercise of judicial authority

 

Adjudication - the formal giving, pronouncing of a judgment or decree by the court in a case

 

Administrative judgment - a judgment that does not include statutes pertaining to law and is strictly administrative in its execution, and may not require further action by either party. In this sense administrative judgments are acts distinguished from such as are judicial, i.e. One who administrates the estate of a deceased person.

 

Ad Sectam Index - (commonly abbreviated to "Ads") an index used in entering and indexing the names of cases, where it is desired that the name of the defendant should come first. Thus, "B ads A" indicates that B is the defendant in an action brought about by A, and the title so written would be an inversion of the more usual form "A v. B."

 

Affiant - one who makes an affidavit or takes an oath (signs, swears to, or affirms)

 

Affidavit - a voluntary oath, or declaration on oath, in writing sworn to before a person who had authority to administer oaths

 

Affirm - to declare that the judgment, decree, or order is valid, right, and must stand as rendered, as in appellate court decisions

 

Alimony - support, provisions, allowances made to a wife upon a decree in divorce for necessaries or maintenance

 

Alimony Pendente Lite - allowance at the institution of a suit to pay the expenses of the suit

 

Allegation - the assertion of a claim, or a statement of what can be proved, averred in a pleading

 

Amicable - agreed to, or prosecuted with the agreement of all parties, such as Amicable Revival of Judgment

 

Answer - the response, reply, or defense to a pleading in writing

 

Appeal - the removal of a cause to a higher court for review and retrial

 

Appellant - one who takes or files an appeal

 

Appellee - the opposing party in a appealed case

 

Appearance - the coming into a court action as a party to a suit, in person or by attorney

 

Arbitration - the deciding of a civil issue, including all matters in dispute, by a board of three arbitrators

 

Arbitrator - one member of a board of arbitration deciding civil issues placed before it

 

Argument list - a calendar of causes for discussion and determination before a court, upon questions of law

 

Arrears - money unpaid after it is due

 

Assignable - subject to lawful transfer of interest or property to another person

 

Assignee - to whom the property or interest is assigned

 

Assignment - the transfer, as evidenced in writing, of property or interest from one party to another

 

Assignor - the party who assigns property or interest to another

 

Attachment - the act or process of taking, apprehending, or seizing persons or property, by virtue of writ, summons, or other judicial order, and bringing the same into the custody of the law.  A remedy ancillary to an action by which plaintiff is enabled to acquire a lien upon property or effects of defendant for satisfaction of judgment which plaintiff may obtain; nonetheless it is in all essential respects, a suit.

 

Attorney At Law - one whose profession is to represent litigants in their causes before the courts

 

Attorney In Fact - one who serves another as an agent in the doing of a particular act or thing, as specified in an instrument called a letter or power of attorney

 

Aver - to assert a statement as true

 

Averment - a positive statement of truth or formal allegation in a pleading

 

Award - to allow; to adjudge as due; to find; a judgment of the arbitrators upon the matters submitted

 

B

 

Bill of Particulars - a statement of particulars, in writing, and formal in arrangement, usually in a divorce action

 

Bond - any instrument in writing that legally binds a party to do a certain thing; an obligation

 

Bond forfeiture - the object of bond in civil cases is either directly or indirectly to secure payment of debt or performance of other civil duties.  Forfeiture of that object is the deprivation or destruction of a right as the consequence of the nonperformance of some obligation or condition

 

Bench warrant - process issued by the court itself, for the attachment or arrest of a person; either in the case of contempt, or to bring in a witness who does not obey the subpoena

 

Bifurcation - to divide into two parts or categories; i.e. Bifurcation separates the termination of the marriage from the distribution of property so that the marriage and each party's personal life are not restricted or disadvantaged

 

Brief - a concise statement of facts

 

C 

 

Call of a list - the inquiry in open court as to what causes of action on a list are ready for trial, argument or other fixed action

 

Capias - "That you take."  The general name for several species of writs, the common characteristic of which is that they require the officer to take their defendant into custody. They are writs of attachment or arrest; i.e. a judicial writ, a writ of execution, a writ in all respects an execution for collection of a fine. (Now known as Civil Bench Warrant)

 

Caption - the heading of a legal document, indicating the parties, the court, and the case number of the action or cause

 

Case - an action, suit, or cause, which includes a statement of facts which furnishes occasion for the exercise of the jurisdiction of a court, in law or equity

 

Certification - a certification is a declaration by the prothonotary or responsible authority required to perform an act, that the act has been accomplished according to law or that a document is authentic or a record, index, or docket is accurate and/or complete

 

Certified copy - a copy made and attested to by the officer entrusted with the custody of the original; that it is a true copy of that original

 

Certiorari - a writ by which the record of a proceeding in a lower court is removed into a higher court for review or inquiry

 

Chattel mortgage - a mortgage of personal property

 

Civil action - an action where an issue for trial in a new matter and formed by the facts of the complaint, as an adversary proceeding for declaration, enforcement, or protection of a right, or redress, or prevention of a wrong

 

Civil law - a personal action which is instituted to compel payment, or the doing of some other thing which is purely civil. That rule of action which every particular nation, commonwealth, or city has established peculiarly for itself.

 

Claimant - one who demands a thing as a matter of right, or who files a claim as the law requires

 

Cognovit Actionem - confession of judgment after service of process; instead of entering a plea, acknowledging and confessing that the plaintiff's cause of action is just and right

 

Cognovit note - a promissory note which contains a provision authorizing an attorney, agent, or other representative to confess judgment on the instrument and direct entry of such judgment

 

Complaint - in civil action, the complaint is the first or initiatory pleading on the part of the plaintiff. A cross-complaint may be filed by the defendant named in the complaint.

 

Condemnation - process of taking private property for public use through the power of eminent domain

 

Condemnee - owner of property taken by condemnation

 

Condemnor - party taking property by condemnation

 

Confession of judgment - a voluntary submission to the jurisdiction of the court, giving by consent, and without the service of process, what could otherwise be obtained by complaint or other formal proceeding

 

Consolidation of actions - a direction that one of several pending actions, involving the same facts and issues, shall be tried, the result of the trial to be an adjudication of all the causes; or else that all the actions proceed to trial and judgment as one suit

 

Consumer credit transaction - a credit transaction in which the party to whom credit is offered or extended is a natural person and the money, property, or services which are the subject of the transaction are primarily for personal, family, or household purposes

 

Continuance - adjournment, postponement to another term of court

 

Costs - the expenses of an action recoverable from the losing party; the sums prescribed by law as charges for services enumerated in the fee bill

 

Counter-claim - a cross-demand, existing in favor of the defendant

 

Custody - in the care or possession of, such as a child, a lunatic or money, property

 

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Damages - the compensation which the law will award for an injury done

 

Debtor - one who owes another anything, or is under obligation to pay a sum of money to another

 

Declaratory judgment - a judgment which simply declares the rights of the parties or expresses

 

Decree - the decision, judgment, or sentence of a court of equity

 

Decree Nisi - a provisional decree; interlocutory judgment; may be made absolute on motion

 

Default - am omission, neglect, or failure to do something required by law, or by a court administering the law

 

Default judgment - a judgment rendered upon an omission by the defendant to take a necessary step in the action within the proper time, for example, a failure to plead, such omission being a default entitling a party to have judgment rendered in his favor, usually, but not invariably, without proof of his claim except as evidence is required to establish damages

 

Deficiency judgment - a personal judgment rendered against any person liable for the mortgage debt, in the event of a deficiency on foreclosure for the amount of such deficiency (Real Estate only)

 

Defendant - one who is called upon in a court to make satisfaction for an injury done or complained of; a person sued or prosecuted; a respondent

 

Deposition - written testimony of a witness given in the course of a judicial proceeding, at law or in equity

 

Directed verdict - a verdict which a jury returns as directed by the court

 

Direct index - an index, in the usual or natural course or line, immediately upwards or downwards, that contains references, alphabetically arranged, to the contents of a series or collection of volumes; or an addition to a single volume or set of volumes containing such references to its contents

 

Discontinuance - the cessation of an action

 

Dismiss - to send out of court for defect or insufficiency in law

 

Divorce - the dissolution by law of a marital relation

 

Docket - a book containing a brief writing or statement of the progress of a case. A Judgment Index or Indices may also be considered a docket

 

Docketing - the practice of maintaining a formal record, by entering in brief all the important acts done in the conduct of each case, from its inception to its conclusion

 

E

 

Ejectment - an action to recover possession of realty, with damages for the wrongful detention

 

Eminent Domain - the power to take private property for public use

 

Equity - an action requiring jurisdiction in cases of right, where a plain, adequate, and complete remedy cannot be had in the courts of law

 

Election District - a district, division, or precinct established in accordance with the provisions of the Pennsylvania Election Code, within which all qualified electors vote at one polling place

 

Et Ux - and wife

 

Et Al - and others

 

Ex Parte - on behalf of one side

 

Exception - objection made, usually to an order of court

 

Exemplification - an official transcript of a record, for use as evidence, or to be used in place of the original

 

Exhibit - a document or thing to be produces and identified for use as evidence, before a jury, referee, master, or in the course of pleading

 

Expunge - to obliterate, deface, efface; to do away with, strike out of existence

 

F

 

Filing - in general, "File" or "the Files" is used loosely to denote official custody of the court or the place in the offices of a court where the records and papers are kept. In practice, to put upon the files, or deposit in the custody or among the records of a court; to deliver an instrument or other paper to the proper officer for the purpose of being kept on file by the officer in the proper place

 

Filing fee - as used in this manual includes Prothonotary's fee as well as all applicable state taxes and surcharges

 

Foreign Judgment Lien - a lien may be obtained on the basis of a judgment gained in another jurisdiction. This lien would bind the real estate of a Pennsylvania judgment debtor, in favor of the holder of a foreign judgment, giving the right to levy on the land for the satisfaction of the foreign judgment to the exclusion of other adverse interests subsequent to the foreign judgment

 

G

 

Garnish - to attach property or a debt due belonging to a defendant

 

Garnishee - one in whose hands money or goods have been attached

 

Guardian - a person who legally has the general care and management of a minor/incapacitated person

 

Guardian Ad Litem - a person appointed by the court to represent a minor/incapacitated person in a specific suit

 

H 

 

Habeas Corpus - the name given to a variety of writs, having for their object to bring a party before a court or judge

 

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In Forma Pauperis - describes permission given to an indigent person to sue without liability for costs

 

In Personam - against a person

 

In Re - in regard to, or in the matter of

 

In Rem - against a thing

 

Incapacitated person - an adult whose ability to receive and evaluate information effectively and communicate decisions in any way is impaired to such a significant extent that the person is partially or totally unable to manage financial resources or to meet the essential requirements for physical health and safety

 

Indigent - poor, without sufficient means

 

Injunction - a writ issued to prohibit a person or make a person refrain from doing some particular thing

 

Interpleader - a third person is made a party to an action against his will by an adverse action

 

Interrogatory - a series of written questions prepared by counsel for the examination of a party to a suit

 

Intervention - a person is permitted to become a party to an action when he voluntarily seeks to do so

 

Issue - the act of issuing, sending forth, emitting, or promulgating; the giving a thing its first inception; as the issue of an order or a writ.  Issues also may arise from matters of fact or conclusion of law during a pleading by the parties

 

J

 

Judgment - the final consideration and determination by the court of the rights of the parties, as those rights presently exist, upon matters submitted to it in an action or proceeding.  The judicial determination or sentence of the court upon a matter within its jurisdiction.  The conclusion of the law upon the matters contained in the record or the application of the law to the pleadings and to the facts as they appear from the evidence in the case, and as found by the court or jury, admitted by the parties, or as deemed to exist upon their default in the course on judicial proceedings.

 

Judgment by Confession - judgment entered where the defendant, instead of entering plea, confessed action, or withdrew plea and confessed action. Judgment where the defendant gives the plaintiff a written confession of action by virtue of which the plaintiff enters judgment. The act of a debtor in permitting judgment to be entered against him/her by his/her creditor for a stipulated sum, by warranty of an attorney.

 

Judgment by Consent - a judgment entered by consent of the parties for the purpose of executing a compromise and settlement of an action, in effect, an agreement or contract of the parties acknowledged in court, and ordered to be filed, with the sanction of the court. A consent judgment is a determination by the parties rather than by the court

 

Judgment by default - see Default Judgment

 

Judgment by operation of law - a judgment which exists without the need for any ministerial act and which arises out of the existence of facts readily verifiable from the domestic relations section's records.  The existence of a valid support order and nonpayment of the order, together, create a judgment.

 

Judgment creditor - a creditor who has secured a judgment against a debtor for the amount of the debt; a person in whose favor a judgment had been entered which has not been satisfied

 

Judgment debtor - a person against whom a judgment has been entered and which has not been satisfied

 

Judgment docket - the public record containing reliable information in regard to the existence or lien of judgments

 

Judgment for money - a judgment which directs the payment of a sum of money, as distinguished from directing an act to be done or property to be restored or transferred.  A judgment for money merely determines the amount due.

 

Judgment lien - security for the judgment debt.  A lien predicted upon the rendition or entry of judgment, the same being the right given the judgment creditor to subject by levy or seizure the property of the judgment debtor to the satisfaction of the judgment.

 

Judgment note - a promissory note with a power of attorney authorizing entry of judgment by confession, in default of payment

 

Judgment of Non Pros - a judgment entered when the plaintiff at any stage of the proceedings fails to prosecute the action, or any part of it, for example, a failure to fie a complaint, in due time

 

Judgment on the pleadings - a judgment rendered on motion in favor of the defendant for failure of he plaintiff to state a good cause of action in the complaint, declaration, or petition; in favor of the plaintiff where the defendant fails to state in the answer a defense sufficient in law to the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff or fails to tender any real issue of facts in the case

 

Judgment on the verdict - a judgment rendered on a verdict of a jury as distinguished from a judgment rendered on a decision by the court in a trial without a jury

 

Judicial judgment - the official and authentic decision and/or adjudication of a court of law upon the respective rights and claims of the parties to an action or suit therein litigated and submitted to its determination.  The term "judgment' is also used to denote the reason which a court gives for its decision; however, the latter is usually referred to as an "opinion."

 

Jurisdiction - the power of the court over the parties and subject matter in contest and the authority of the court to render the judgment or decree which it makes

 

Jury - a body of persons sworn to decide a matter of fact in controversy in a court of justice

 

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Lawsuit - an action between adversary parties

 

Letter of Attorney - the instrument conferring power of attorney upon an agent

 

Letters Rogatory - a request by one court of another court in an independent jurisdiction, that a witness be examined upon interrogatories sent with the request.  This process is used between countries as well as states.

 

Lien - the tie that binds property to a debt or claim for its satisfaction

 

Lis Pendens - a notice filed for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation, and that they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.  The notice is for the purpose of preserving rights of pending litigation.

 

Litigant - a party of a lawsuit

 

Litigation - a judicial proceeding

 

M-N-O

 

Mandamus - a legal proceeding that a prisoner takes against an individual to get back personal property taken from him or if they were treated wrongfully

 

Ne Exeat - a writ which forbids the person to whom it is addressed to leave the country, the state, or the jurisdiction of the court.  Available in some cases to keep a defendant within the reach of the court's process, where the ends of justice would be frustrated if he should escape from the jurisdiction.  Sometimes a ne exeat writ is issued only to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction, and sometimes it is issued against a person who is removing or attempting to remove property beyond the jurisdiction.

 

New matter - in a pleading, matter not previously alleged

 

Nisi - a rule or order which is to become absolute unless cause to the contrary be shown

 

Non Pros Judgment - see Judgment of Non Pros

 

Notice of Lis Pendens - a notice filed for the purpose of warning all persons that the title to certain property is in litigation and that if they purchase the defendant's claim to the same, they are in danger of being bound by an adverse judgment.  The notice is for the purpose of preserving rights of pending litigation.

 

Nunc Pro Tunc - Now for then.  Said of a thing done in the present time which is to have the same effect as if it had been done at a time gone by, when it should have been done.

 

Opinion - the statement of reasons advanced by a judge or court in support of a decision rendered

 

Order - the judgment or conclusion of the court upon any motion or proceeding

 

P

 

Per Annum - by the year; yearly

 

Per Capita - by the head; individually

 

Per Curiam - by the court

 

Per Diem - by the day; daily

 

Per Se - by itself

 

Peremptory challenge - an absolute challenge to members of a jury based on alleged facts from which, if proven to be true, incapacity to serve is conclusively presumed

 

Personalty - personal property, as opposed to realty

 

Petit Jury - a petit jury consists of twelve persons impaneled and sworn, in courts having trial jurisdiction, to try and determine by a true unanimous verdict, any question or issue of fact, in any civil action or proceeding according to law and the evidence as given them n court.  Petit is used to distinguish it from grand jury

 

Petition - a written application to bring before the court a matter in regard to which judicial action is necessary, a suit being inappropriate

 

Petitioner - the person presenting a petition

 

Plaintiff - the party in whose favor the suit purports, on the record, to have been instituted

 

Plead - to carry on a suit or plea; to litigate; to make an allegation of fact in a cause

 

Pleading - the statement, in logical and legal form, of the facts which constitute the cause of action or the ground of defense

 

Poundage - a percentage or allowance of a portion of money paid into court, held by the officer for payment to the municipality

 

Praecipe - a paper containing the particulars for a writ with an instruction to the officer who is to issue it

 

Prayer - a petition or request that the court grant the relief desired

 

Prima Facie - a fact presumed to be true unless disproved by some evidence to the contrary.  A prima facie case, then, is one which is established by sufficient evidence and can be overthrown only by rebutting evidence presented on the other side.  A commonly used term is prima facie evidence.

 

Pro Hac Vice - for this turn

 

Pro Se - representing oneself

 

Proceeding - any step taken by a party in the progress of an action

 

Process - specifically it means the writ, summons mandate, or other process which is used to inform the defendant of the institution of proceedings against him/her and to compel his/her appearance in a civil case

 

Promissory note - a plain and direct engagement in writing, to pay a sum certain at the time specified to the person therein named, or to the bearer at large

 

Protection from Abuse (PFA) - The Protection From Abuse Act is a vanguard civil measure, dealing with problems of wife and child abuse and is designed to protect against abuse not only between family or household members who reside together, but also between unmarried persons living together

 

Prothonotary - the head clerk, whose principal duty is to make and preserve accurate records of proceedings as prescribed by law; the chief scribe in court

 

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Real Property - consists of such things as are permanent, fixed, immovable, and cannot be moved from the place in which they subsist

 

Record - to write or enter in official books for authentic evidence or for reference

 

Reinstate - to restore to former position with reference to other persons or things

 

Remand - to return from whence it came; when an order sends a cause back to the original court of jurisdiction

 

Replevin - legal remedy for any unlawful detention of personalty

 

Respondent - one who makes or files an answer in a cause

 

S

 

Scire Facias - a judicial writ, founded upon some matter of record, such as a judgment or recognizance, and requiring the person against whom it is brought to show cause why the party bringing it should not have advantage of such record or why the record should not be annulled and vacated

 

Service - the delivery or communication of a pleading, notice, or other paper in a suit to the opposite party, so as to charge that party with the receipt of it, and subject him/her to its legal effect

 

Specific performance - the branch of equity jurisprudence that compels a party to perform a contract, specifically

 

Statement of Objection - the act of a party who categorically objects to some matter or proceeding in the course of a trial, or an argument or reason argued by a party in support of a contention that the matter or proceeding objected to is improper or illegal

 

Subpoena - a writ requiring a person to appear at a certain time and place, or pay a penalty or undergo punishment

 

Subpoena Duces Tecum - a subpoena that directs the person to bring something

 

Summary Judgment - a summary judgment is any proceeding where a controversy is settled.  A case disposed of, or trial conducted in a prompt and simple manner, without the aid of a jury, or in other respects out of the regular course of the common law.

 

Summons - a notice to a defendant that an action has been commenced against him/her, and that he/she is required to answer the complaint, which is either attached to the summons, or will be filed in the proper clerk's office

 

Supersedeas - the name of a writ containing a command to stay the proceedings at law.  A suspension of the power of a trial court to issue an execution of judgment appealed from, or, if writ of execution has issued, it is a prohibition emanating from court of appeal against execution of writ.

 

Support arrears judgment - on and after the date it is due, each and every support obligation shall constitute a judgment against the obligor by operation of law, with the full force, effect, and attributes of a judgment of court, including the ability to be enforced, and shall be entitled as a judgment to full faith and credit in this or any other state

 

Surety - a person bound with a principal for the payment of a sum of money or for the performance of some duty or promise, and who is entitled to be indemnified by someone who ought to have paid or performed if payment or performance is to be enforced against him/her

 

Swear - to take an oath before an officer employed to administer oaths

 

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Terre-tenant - the person who is in actual possession of a piece of land, as distinguished from the owner, real or alleged; also the owner of the legal, as distinguished from the equitable, estate

 

Tipstaff - an officer who waits upon a court in session, preserving order, caring for jurors and juries

 

Transcript - an official copy

 

Traverse jury - a petit jury; a trial jury; a jury impaneled to try an action or prosecution, as distinguished from a grand jury

 

Trial - the examination of the matter of facts in an issue

 

v

 

Venire - to come or appear in court

 

Venue - the proper county for a cause to be tried

 

Verdict - the findings of a jury

 

Versus - against

 

Voir Dire - to speak the truth.  Referring to the examination of a prospective juror or witness, to ascertain whether the person possesses the required qualifications, the person having been sworn to make true answers to the questions about to be asked concerning the matter

 

W

 

Waiver - the voluntary relinquishment of some right

 

With prejudice - the term as applied to judgment of dismissal is as conclusive of rights of parties as if action had been prosecuted to final adjudication adverse to the plaintiff

 

Without prejudice - a dismissal "without prejudice" allows a new suit to be brought on the same cause of action

 

Witness - one who gives evidence in a cause before a court

 

Writ - process in a civil suit

 

Writ of Ne Exeat - a writ which forbids the person to whom it is addressed to leave the country, the state, or the jurisdiction of the court.  Available in some cases to keep a defendant within the reach of the court's process, where the ends of justice would be frustrated it he should escape from the jurisdiction.  Sometimes a ne exeat writ is issued only to restrain a person from leaving the jurisdiction, and sometimes it is issued against a person who is removing or attempting to remove property beyond the jurisdiction