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Capital crime - A crime punishable by death.

Calendar - A list of cases scheduled for hearing in court.

Canons of ethics - Standards of ethical conduct for attorneys.

Capacity - Having legal authority or mental ability.  Being of sound mind.

Caption - Heading or introductory party of a pleading.

Case law - Law established by previous decisions of appellate courts, particularly the United States Supreme Court or state Supreme Courts.

Cases - General term for an action, cause, suit, or controversy, at law or in equity; questions contested before a court of justice.

Cause - A lawsuit, litigation, or action.  Any questions, civil or criminal, litigated or contested before a court of justice.

Cause of action - The fact or facts which give a person a right to relief in court.

Caveat - A warning; a note of caution.

Certification - 1.  Written attestation.  2.  Authorized declaration verifying that an instrument is a true and correct copy of the original.

Certiorari - A writ of review issued by a higher court to a lower court.  A means of getting an appellate court to review a lower court’s decision.  If an appellate court grants a writ of certiorari, it agrees to take the appeal.  

Challenge - An objection, such as when an attorney objects at a hearing to the seating of a particular person on a civil or criminal jury.

Challenge for cause - A request from  a party to a judge that a certain prospective juror not be allowed to be a member of a jury because of specified causes or reasons.  

Chambers - A judge’s private office.  A hearing in chambers takes place in the judge’s office outside of the presence of the jury and the public.

Change of venue - Moving a lawsuit or criminal trial to another place for trial.  

Charge to the jury - The judge’s instructions to the jury concerning the law that applies to the facts of the case on trial.

Chief Judge - Presiding or administrative judge in a court.

Chattel - An article of personal property.

Child - Offspring of parentage; progeny.

Chronological - Arranged in the order in which events happened; according to date.

Circumstantial Evidence - All evidence except eyewitness testimony.  One example is physical evidence, such as fingerprints, from which an inference can be drawn.

Citation - A writ or order issued by a court commanding the person named therein to appear at the time and place named; also the written reference to legal authorities, precedents, reported cases, etc., in briefs or other legal documents.

Civil - Relating to private rights and remedies sought by civil actions as contrasted with criminal proceedings.

Civil Action - An action brought to enforce or protect private rights.

Civil Law - Law based on a series of written codes or laws.

Civil procedure - The rules and process by which a civil case is tried and appealed, including the preparations for trial, the rules of evidence and trial conduct, and the procedure for pursuing appeals.

Claim - A debt owing by a debtor to another person or business.  In probate parlance, the term used for debts of the decedent and a procedure that must be followed by a creditor to obtain payment from his/her estate.

Class action - A lawsuit brought by one or more persons on behalf of a larger group.

Clear and convincing evidence - Standard of proof commonly used in civil lawsuits and in regulatory agency cases.  IT governs the amount of proof that must be offered in order for the plaintiff to win the case.

Clemency or Executive Clemency - Act of grace or mercy by the president or governor to ease the consequences of a criminal act, accusation, or conviction.  

Clerk of Court - Administrator or chief clerical officer of the court.

Closing Argument - The closing statement, by counsel, to the trier of facts after all parties have concluded their presentation of evidence.

Codicil - An amendment to a will.

Commit - To send a person to prison, asylum, or reformatory by a court order.

Common law - Also case law.  Law established by subject matter heard in earlier cases.

Commutation - The reduction of a sentence, as from death to life imprisonment.

Comparative negligence - The rule under which negligence is measured by percentage, and damages are diminished in proportion to the amount of negligence attributable to the person seeking recovery.

Complainant - The party who complains or sues; one who applies to the court for legal redress.

Complaint - 1.  The legal document that usually begins a civil lawsuit.  IT states the facts and identifies the action the court is asked to take.  2.  Formal written charge that a person has committed a criminal offense.  

Conciliation - A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps lower tensions, improve communications, and explore possible solutions.  Conciliation is similar to mediation, but may be less formal.

Concurrent sentences - Sentences for more than one crime that are to be served at the same time, rather than one after the other.

Conformed Copy - An exact copy of a document on which has been written things that could not or were not copied, i.e., a written signature is replaced on the conformed copy with a notation that it was signed by the parties or a judge.

Consecutive Sentences - Successive sentences, one beginning at the expiration of another, imposed against a person convicted of two or more violations of the law.

Consent - Agreement; voluntary acceptance of the wish of another.

Consideration - The price bargained for and paid for a promise, goods, or real estate.

Constitution - The fundamental law of a nation or state which establishes the character and basic principles of the government.

Constitutional Law - Law set forth in the Constitution of the United States and the state constitutions.

Contempt of Court - Willful disobedience of a judge’s command or of an official court order.

Continuance - Postponement of a legal proceeding to a later date.

Contract - An agreement between two or more persons which creates an obligation to do or not to do a particular thing.  A legally enforceable agreement between two or more competent parties made either orally or in writing.

Contributory Negligence - The rule of law under which an act or omission of plaintiff is a contributing cause of injury and a bar to recovery.

Conveyance - Instrument transferring title of land for one person or group of persons to another.

Conviction - A judgment of guilt against a criminal defendant.

Corroborating evidence - Supplementary evidence that tends to strengthen or confirm the initial evidence.

Counsel - A legal advisor; a term used to refer to lawyers in a case.

Counterclaim - A claim made by the defendant in a civil lawsuit against the plaintiff.  In essence, a counter lawsuit within a lawsuit.

Court - A body in government to which the administration of justice is delegated.

Court-appointed attorney - Attorney appointed by the court to represent a defendant, usually with respect to criminal charges, and without the defendant having to pay fully for the representation.

Court Costs - The expenses of prosecuting or defending a lawsuit, other than the attorney fees.  An amount of money may be awarded to the successful party and may be recoverable from the losing party as reimbursement for court costs.

Court of original jurisdiction - A court where a matter is initiated and heard in the first instance; a trial court.

Court Reporter - A person who transcribes by shorthand or stenographically takes down testimony during court proceedings, a deposition, or other trial-related proceeding.

Court rules - Regulations governing practice and procedure in the various courts.

Creditor - A person to whom a debt is owed by another.

Crime - An act in violation of the penal laws of a state or of the United States.  A positive or negative act in violation of penal law.

Criminal Justice System - the network of courts and tribunals which deal with criminal law and its enforcement.

Cross-Claim - A pleading which asserts a claim arising out of the same subject action as the original complaint against a co-party, i.e., one co-defendant cross claims against another co-defendant for contribution for any damages assessed against him/her.

Cross-examination - The questioning of a witness produced by the other side.

Cumulative Sentences - Sentences for two or more crimes to run consecutively, rather than concurrently.

Custody - Detaining of a person by lawful process or authority to assure his or her appearance to any hearing; the jailing or imprisonment of a person convicted of a crime.