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Acceptance -  The taking and receiving of anything in good faith with the intention of retaining it.

Accomplice  -  1.  A partner in a crime.  2.  A person who knowingly and voluntarily participates with another in a criminal activity.

Acknowledgement  -  A formal declaration before an authorized official by the person who executed an instrument that it is his/her free act and deed; the certificate of the official on such instrument attesting that it was so acknowledged.

Acquittal  -  A release, absolution, or discharge of an obligation or liability.  In criminal law the finding of not guilty.

Adjudication  -  Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree.  Also the judgment given.

Administrator  -  1.  One who administers the estate of a person who dies without a will.  2.  A court official.

Admiralty Law -  Also, maritime law.  That body of law relating to ships, shipping, marine commerce and navigation, transportation of persons or property by sea, etc.

Admissible Evidence  -  Evidence that can be legally and properly introduced in a civil or criminal trial.  

Admonish  -  To advise or caution.  For example the court may caution or admonish counsel for wrong practices.

Adversary Proceeding  -  One having opposing parties such as a plaintiff and a defendant.  

Adverse Possession - Method of acquiring real property under certain conditions by possession for a statutory period.

Affiant - The person who makes and subscribes (signs) an affidavit.

Affidavit  -  A voluntary, written, or printed declaration of facts, confirmed by oath of the party making it before a person with authority to administer the oath.

Affirmation  -  A solemn and formal declaration that an affidavit is true.  This is substituted for an oath in certain cases.

Affirmative defense  -  A defense raised in a responsive pleading (answer) relating a new matter as a defense to the complaint; affirmative defenses might include contributory negligence or estopped in civil actions; in criminal cases insanity, duress, or self-defense might be used.

Affirmed  -  In the practice of appellate courts, the word means that the decision of the trial court is correct.

Agreement - Mutual consent.

Aid and Abet - To actively, knowingly, or intentionally assist another person in the commission or attempted commission of a crime.

Alien - A foreign-born person who has not qualified as a citizen of the country.

Allegation - A statement of the issues in a written document (pleading or “information”) which a person is prepared to prove in court.

Alteration - Changing or making different.

Alternative Dispute Resolution - Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial.  Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.

America Bar Association - A national association of lawyers whose primary purpose is improvement of lawyers and the administration of justice.

Ancillary - A proceeding which is auxiliary or subordinate to another proceeding.  In probate, a proceeding in a state where a decedent owned property but was not domiciled (living/residing).

Annotations - Remarks, notes, case summaries, or commentaries following statutes which describe interpretations of the statute.

Answer - A formal, written statement by the defendant in a lawsuit which answers each allegation contained in the complaint.

Answers to Interrogatories - A formal written statement by a party to a lawsuit which answers each question or interrogatory propounded by the other party.  These answers must be acknowledged before a notary public or other person authorized to take acknowledgments.

Appeal - A proceeding brought to a higher court to review a lower court’s decision.

Appearance - The act of coming into court as a party to a suit either in person or through an attorney.

Appendix - Supplementary materials added to the end of a document.

Appellate Court - A court having jurisdiction to hear appeals and review a trial court’s procedure.

Appellee - (See Respondent.)  The party against whom an appeal is taken.

Arbitration - The hearing of a dispute by an impartial third person or persons (chose by the parties), whose award the parties agree to accept.

Arbitrator - A private, disinterested person chosen by the parties in arbitration to hear evidence concerning the dispute and to make an award based on the evidence.

Arraignment - The hearing at which the accused is brought before the court to plead to the criminal charge in the indictment or information filed.  He/She may plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or where permitted under the law “nolo contender.”  (See preliminary hearing.)

Arrest - To take into custody by legal authority.

Assault - Threat to inflict injury with an apparent ability to do so.  Also, any intentional display of force that would give the victim reason to fear or expect immediate bodily harm.

Assignment - The transfer to another person of any property, real or personal.

Assumption of risk - A doctrine under which a person may not recover for an injury received when he/she has voluntarily exposed himself/herself to a known danger.

At issue - The time in a lawsuit when the complaining party has stated their claim and the other side has responded with a denial and the matter is ready to be tried.

Attachment - Taking a person’s property to satisfy a court-ordered debt.

Attorney-at-law - An advocate, counsel, or official agent employed in preparing, managing, and trying cases in the courts.

Attorney-in-fact - A private person (who is not necessarily a lawyer) authorized by another to act in his or her place, either for some particular purpose, as to do a specific act, or for the transaction of business in general, not of legal character.  This authority is conferred by an instrument in writing called a “Letter of Attorney,” or more commonly known as a “Power of Attorney.”

Attorney of record - The principal attorney in a lawsuit, who signs all formal documents relating to the suit.