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Abstract of title – A chronological summary of all official records and recorded documents affecting the title to a parcel of real property.

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.

Accretion – The increase or accumulation of land by natural causes, as out of a lake or river.

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

Acquittal – Release, absolution, or discharge of an obligation or liability. In criminal law the finding of not guilty.

Action Case– Cause, suit, or controversy disputed or contested before a court of justice.

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

Administrative agencies – Agencies created by the legislative branch of government to administer laws pertaining to specific areas such as taxes, transportation, and labor.

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

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. Individual lawsuit(s) brought within a bankruptcy proceeding.

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

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.

Agreement -Mutual consent.

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

Allegation – A statement of the issues in a written document (a pleading) which a person is prepared to prove in court.

Alternative dispute resolution – Settling a dispute without a full, formal trial. Methods include mediation, conciliation, arbitration, and settlement, among others.

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.

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.

Antitrust acts – Federal and state statutes to protect trade and commerce from unlawful restraints, price discriminations, price fixing, and monopolies.

Appeal – A proceeding brought to a higher court to review a lower court decision.

Appeal Bond – A guaranty by the appealing party insuring that court costs will be paid.

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

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 (chosen 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. He may plead “guilty,” “not guilty,” or where permitted “nolo contendere.” (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 has voluntarily exposed himself 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 “power of attorney.”

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

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