Layman's Guide to Law

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Vocabulary Guide for Lawsuits

- Plaintiff: Is the person or group who institutes the suit.

- defendant: Is the person or persons who are being sued.

- Complaint: a formal statement the plaintiff makes, naming the defendant and describes the lawsuit.

- Summons: When the court issues a statement to the defendant that they are to appear in court on a specific date at a specific time. This is after the Plaintiff has filled a complaint. It can either be a summons to a witness or the defendant.

- Pleadings: Are the complaint and answer - made by the defendant's lawyer, who states their charges - together.

- Pretrial Conference: Is used by a judge to clarify differences and prepare for the trial.

- Mediation: Intervening in a case in order to resolve it.

- Arbitration: When a person helps to settle the dispute.

- Trail: When the Plaintiff and defendant present their cases to the 6 to 12 person jury or to a judge.

- Preponderance of Evidence: When the plaintiff has to prove to the judge or jury the claims they stated in the complaint. If the defendant makes a counterclaim in the answer they must prove the claims they stated. Whom ever proves the claims they stated wins the case and results in defendant being guilty or at fault.

- Verdict: The decision the jury or judge comes to after the trial.

- Appeal: When you ask a higher court (State or national court of appeals, usually) to reverse the decision made in a lower court (Usually a district court)

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