|Admission against interest||Statement by a party to the action that contradicts testimony or other
evidence presented by that party in the case. An admission against interest
is admissible evidence even though otherwise is hearsay.
|Answer||A response by the defendant to the allegations made by the plaintiff
in the complaint.
|Breach||The breaking or violating of a duty that one owes to another person,
as defined by law. A duty may be an affirmative act or an omission or failure
to perform an act required by one's relationship to another.
|Burden of proof||A party's obligation to establish by evidence certain facts necessary
to prove that party's case. In a civil case, the plaintiff has the burden
to prove by a "preponderance of the evidence" that he or she is entitled
to recover or other relief.
|Business record||A business record is a document maintained in the ordinary course of
business. The party seeking to introduce the business record into evidence
shows by evidence (usually oral), that the business record was made and
kept in the ordinary course of business at or near the time of the transaction
discussed in the document, by one having a duty to record. A business record
is admissible even though it otherwise is hearsay.
|Cause of action (or claim for relief)||A situation or state of facts that may entitle a party to recover.
|Civil action||In general, any action that is not a criminal proceeding. All actions
brought to enforce, redress, or protect private rights.
|Closing argument (or summation)||A summary of the evidence and argument of the party's position at trial,
made by the party's attorney. It does not constitute evidence.
|Complaint||Initial pleading, commencing an action under statutory codes or rules of civil procedure. Complaints include statements of the court's jurisdiction and facts tending to show that the plaintiff is entitled to relief. A complaint may include different causes of action and may seek alternative forms of relief.|
|Contributory negligence||Actions by the plaintiff which constitute a breach of duty; a plaintiff's
failure to protect himself or herself from injury contributed to the injury.
If the defendant establishes contributory negligence by the plaintiff,
the plaintiff is precluded by law from recovering any damages.
|Credibility||That quality in a witness that renders him or her believable.|
|Defendant||The party sued by the plaintiff in a civil action.|
|Directed verdict||Verdict entered by trial judge when the party with the burden of proof
has failed to present sufficient facts to establish its case and judge
decides that the only one possible result that a reasonable jury would
be to find the defendant not liable. A defendant is required to preserve
certain arguments for appeal, to move for directed verdict when the plaintiff
finishes its case. To preserve arguments for appeal, a plaintiff is required
to move for a directed verdict when all of the evidence has been presented.
|Duty||An obligation or conduct defined in the law as reasonable conduct in light of the perceived risk.|
|Elements||The constituent parts of a cause of action that the plaintiff must prove in order to prevail.|
|Exhibit||Documents, diagrams, or other objects presented as evidence in court
during a trial or hearing as proof of facts of a party's position, identified
by party and numbered, usually consecutively.
|Hearsay||A type of testimony that relates not what a witness knows from personal
knowledge but what others have told him or what he or she has overheard.
It is a statement by someone other than the original speaker, and it is
offered in evidence to prove the truth of the matter asserted. Hearsay
generally is not admissible unless it falls under certain exceptions provided
in the rules of evidence.
|Issue of fact
||A version of facts maintained by one party and challenged by another.
Issues of fact are decided by triers of fact, usually juries.
|Issue of law||An issue involving interpretation of law where the facts are not disputed
and from which only one conclusion can be drawn. Issues of law are decided
by judges, not juries.
|Issue of law and fact||An issue involving both interpretation of the law and resolution of
disputed factual issues.
|Judgment||An official decision by a court deciding the respective rights and claims of parties to an action.|
|Jurisdiction||The power of a court to decide a matter in controversy presented to
it. The existence of judicial jurisdiction assumes that the court has control
over the matter in controversy and the parties.
|Jury||A certain number of men and women, selected according to law, and sworn
to consider and decide matters of fact presented to them.
|Jury deliberations||The process by which a jury meets separately to decide matters presented
to it based upon the legal principles (or "instructions") given by the
|Jury instructions||A statement of the law made by the judge to the jury, informing the
jury of the law that applies to the case.
|Negligence||Failure to use such care as a reasonably prudent and careful person
would use under similar circumstances, proximately causing injury to another.
|Objection||A statement by a party in open court challenging evidence before it
is presented to the jury.
|Opening statement||A summary, presented by a party before the trial begins, of the evidence
that the party anticipates will come into evidence.
|Plaintiff||A person who brings a civil action against another and seeks redress
for alleged civil (non-criminal) wrongs.
|Preponderance of evidence||A standard of proof in civil cases in which the evidence as a whole
shows more likely than not that the facts sought to be proved are more
probable than not. A preponderance of evidence is determined not by the
number of witnesses, but by the greater weight of all of the evidence,
considered as a whole. A plaintiff must prove its case by a preponderance
of the evidence in order to recover.
|Proximate Cause||An event (including a failure to act) that produces, without any intervening cause, in the injury and without which the injury would not have occurred.|
|Summation (or closing statement)
||A summary of the evidence and argument of the party's position at trial,
made by the party's attorney. It does not constitute evidence.
|Verdict||The formal decision or finding made by a jury, empaneled and sworn
to decide a cause of action and reported to the court.
|Verdict form||A form that sometimes is presented to a jury seeking answer to specific
questions on the causes of action and possibly other issues raised by the
Links | Glossary | Awards & Comments | Estate of Peder Jensen | Carla Christine Jensen's Information for her Attorney | The White Star Line | Second Officer Lightoller's Memo to the White Star's Lawyer | Mauritz Hakan Bjornstrom-Steffansson's Letter to White Star Line Counsel | Plaintiff's Exhibit I | Teacher's Guide to Jensen v. White Star Lines | The Judicial Process in the US
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