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American Legal Vocabulary

Have you watched enough "Law & Order" to guess these American legal terms?
To make it easier, we give you a first letter
Last updated: December 14, 2017
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Definition
 
Term
Judge's mallet
G
Gavel
Crime that is more serious
than a misdemeanor
F
Felony
Party that opposes
the defendant in civil cases
P
Plaintiff
To find not guilty
A
Acquit
Person who leads the jury
F
Foreperson
Where the judge sits.
"Please approach the _____"
B
Bench
Crime of lying under oath
P
Perjury
Money paid to be released
from jail pending trial
B
Bail
To separate the jury from
outside influence
S
Sequester
Formal reading of charges
against the accused
A
Arraignment
Definition
 
Term
The list of cases scheduled to be
heard by the court
D
Docket
To seek a trial in a higher court
A
Appeal
A jury that can't reach a decision is ....
H
Hung
Court authorization for a search or arrest
W
Warrant
Lawyer who opposes the
defense attorney in criminal cases
P
Prosecutor
Fact-finding process that occurs before a trial
D
Discovery
Testimony not directly observed. For example,
"Susie told me she saw Bob do it"
H
Hearsay
Writ that requires someone to appear in court
S
Subpoena
Award paid to the wronged party in a lawsuit
D
Damages
An action which causes harm for which
someone can be sued in civil court
T
Tort
+3
level 67
Dec 13, 2017
Interesting. I think, although I'm not legally trained, most of these are also used in British Courts.
+2
level 21
Jan 14, 2018
For the most part also applicable in English courts. We don't use gavels or have discovery though. We have a list rather than a docket and the process for sequestering is different. Finally, plaintiffs are now claimants - although that's a fairly recent change.
+1
level 70
Apr 13, 2018
"List" is also used in American courts. "call the list" Docket usually refers to all the entries made in a particular case, but is also used as "is your case on the docket today?"
+1
level 62
Apr 18, 2018
At least in Canada, too, we don't use the terms "felony" and "misdemeanor". Instead they're "indictable offenses" and "summary conviction offenses", which is less cool.
+4
level 77
Dec 13, 2017
Couple of inaccuracies. The reading of charges in court is an "arraignment"; an "indictment" is the issuance of charges. Also, although there can be a trial subpoena, subpoenas can be for depositions, inspections or production of documents; the command to appear in court is a "summons."
+2
level ∞
Dec 14, 2017
Changed indictment to arraignment. Thanks!
+2
level 77
Dec 13, 2017
I agree that "arraignment" is the correct answer, "indictment" being something different. But "subpoena" is acceptable even though it has alternate meanings. I guess "summons" should also be OK.
+1
level 71
Dec 13, 2017
I checked a US dictionary and yes, summons ("a call or citation by authority to appear before a court or a judicial officer") also fits the clue.
+2
level ∞
Dec 14, 2017
Summons was supposed to work. It will now.
+1
level 77
Dec 13, 2017
Also I think the time is too much by about a minute for this one...
+2
level 69
Dec 15, 2017
There once was a Law & Order UK, starring Jamie Bamber (Apollo from BSG… his British accent sure caused me MASSIVE amounts of cognitive dissonance!). So we need another quiz to see if we Yanks watched enough L&O UK (is it still on? Spoiler alert: they killed off Apollo) to learn about the British legal system! I'm sorry to report that I'd only just figured out the difference between a barrister and a solicitor before I became permanently distracted by OH MY GOD, THOSE WIGS! and really never learned much past that.
+2
level 77
Dec 21, 2017
20/20! Perhaps I'm qualified to be appointed as a federal judge for the District of Columbia? ;)
+3
level 70
Jan 5, 2018
You might even be overqualified, LOL.
+3
level 55
Apr 13, 2018
Based on my many years watching Law & Order, I'm fairly certain I would pass the New York State Bar. * Dun dun *
+1
level 37
Apr 13, 2018
Absolve means to find not guilty too.
+1
level 70
Apr 13, 2018
True, I thought of that as well, but it is not really used in the courtroom setting. Acquit is the better choice.
+2
level 74
Apr 20, 2018
Who could ever forget, "If the glove doesn't fit, you must acquit?"
+2
level 57
Apr 13, 2018
"Absolve" is not a legal term. The legal definition for a finding of not guilty is an "acquittal."
+1
level 56
Apr 13, 2018
I put sequest....is that not enough?!?
+3
level 58
Apr 13, 2018
It's not, because the actual verb is "to sequester."
+1
level 61
Apr 13, 2018
Too much time.
+1
level 70
Apr 13, 2018
Spelled tort ‘taut’. Oops
+2
level 57
Apr 13, 2018
The clue for "appeal" is incorrect. You do not "seek a trial" in a higher court when you appeal. Only the lowest court, appropriately named the "trial court," hears trials. You appeal a trial court's trial verdict to the appeals court when you believe the trial court has made the wrong ruling. If it the appellate court agrees with you that the trial court was wrong, it can reverse the lower (trial) court's ruling or remand (i.e., send it back), but there is no trial in the appellate or supreme court. You cannot call witnesses or present evidence. The lawyer for each side explains to the appeals court, based only on the evidence presented in the trial court, why the trial court was wrong. A crude analogy is that the trial court is the football referee, and the appeals court is the video replay booth. You don't get to run the play from scratch in front of the video review team. That team can only review what the referees (trial court) saw and determine whether it was correct.
+1
level 36
Apr 13, 2018
This is true--trials are only in the trial court--you argue an appeal in an appellate court--which is the higher court, but you never get a trial in a higher court to reverse a lower court. Motions, appeals and briefs are filed and argued, decisions handed down. No new evidence--which is a problem when new evidence is discovered or esp just not introduced at trial. Think of people rotting away in prison when everyone knows a prosecutor was dirty....very hard to get reversals and new trials even when prosecutor is now in prison too. But the rest is great.
+1
level 39
Apr 14, 2018
Or you can compare it to appealing your mother's "no" to you father.
+1
level 74
Apr 20, 2018
Agree, the clue is incorrect as written. Perhaps something like, "To seek a decision reversal in a higher court" or "decision review" would be more accurate.
+1
level 59
Apr 13, 2018
Penultimate question - since this is U.S. centric, how about "dollars" as an acceptable answer?
+2
level 36
Apr 13, 2018
You may be seeking "specific performance"--a person to perform contractual duties they are uniquely qualified to perform (acting or music, for ex), or the return or transfer of personal or real property. Money sometimes is inadequate.
+2
level 74
Apr 14, 2018
"dollars" is not a legal term
+1
level 57
Apr 14, 2018
haha there was no way I was spelling subpoena right first time round