St. Louis Circuit Court Legal Encoding Project
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Glossary of Legal Terms

TEI Extensions & AttributesFunctions of Elements & AttributesLegal Terms & Definitions
affidavit  any written document in which the signer swears under oath before a notary public or someone authorized to take oaths (like a County Clerk), that the statements in the document are true.
amicus curiae  Latin for "friend of the court," a party or an organization interested in an issue which files a brief or participates in the argument in a case in which that party or organization is not one of the litigants. 
answer   in law, a written pleading filed by a defendant to respond to a complaint in a lawsuit filed and served upon that defendant.
appellant   the party who appeals a trial court decision he/she/it has lost.
appellee  in some jurisdictions the name used for the party who has won at the trial court level, but the loser (appellant) has appealed the decision to a higher court. Thus the appellee has to file a response to the legal brief filed by the appellant. In many jurisdictions the appellee is called the "respondent."
  <attorney> @forAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of an attorney in a case, and on behalf of which party (plaintiff or defendant)attorney  a person who has been qualified by a state or federal court to provide legal services, including appearing in court.
  <author> @roleAn element in the <legalDocDesc> that contains the author or source of a document, and the legal role that author plays in the case
bill of costs  a statement of the items which form the total amount of the costs of a party to a suit or action.
brief   a written legal argument, usually in a format prescribed by the courts, stating the legal reasons for the suit based on statutes, regulations, case precedents, legal texts, and reasoning applied to facts in the particular situation. A brief is submitted to lay out the argument for various petitions and motions before the court (sometimes called "points and authorities"), to counter the arguments of opposing lawyers, and to provide the judge or judges with reasons to rule in favor of the party represented by the brief writer. 
capias ad respondendum  a writ issued by a court to the sheriff of a particular county to bring the defendant, having failed to appear, to answer a civil action against him.
  <caseDesc>A header section that contains all case-related information
  <caseNo>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the number of a case as assigned by the court
  <caseTitle>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the title or style of the casecase title or style  the official title of a legal case (typically in the form of Plaintiff vs. Defendant).
  <causeAction>  @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the specific type of case the plaintiff brings, as well as whether it is civil or criminalcause of action  the basis of a lawsuit founded on legal grounds and alleged facts which, if proved, would constitute all the "elements" required by statute.
 <citation> @vol,  @pg, @rptAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of the clerk of court at the time of the case, and the type if specifiedcitation  the case as well as the volume number, the report series and the page number of a case referred to in a brief, points and authorities, or other legal argument.
 <clerk> @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of the clerk of court at the time of the case, and the type if specifiedclerk  an official or employee who handles the business of a court or a system of courts, maintains files of each case, and issues routine documents.
complaint  the first document filed with the court (actually with the County Clerk or Clerk of the Court) by a person or entity claiming legal rights against another.
concurring opinion  a written opinion by one or more judges of a court which agrees with the decision made by the majority of the court but states different reasons as the basis for his or her decision
 <coroner>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a coroner assigned to a casecoroner   a county official with the responsibility to determine the cause of death of anyone who dies violently (by attack or accident), suddenly, or suspiciously.
 <court> @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the court where the case is filed or being heard, as well as the type of court – state, federal, etc.court   any official tribunal presided over by a judge or jduges in which legal issues and claims are heard and determined.
court reporter  a person whose occupation is to transcribe spoken or recorded speech into written form to produce official transcipts of court hearings, depositions and other official proceedings.
 <date> @filed,  @initiated,  @termAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the date of the suit - when it was filed, the term in which it was filed, or the date it was otherwise initiated
defendant  the party sued in a civil lawsuit or the party charged with a crime in a criminal prosecution. In some types of cases (such as divorce) a defendant may be called a respondent.
demurrer  a written response to a complaint filed in a lawsuit which, in effect, pleads for dismissal on the point that even if the facts alleged in the complaint were true, there is no legal basis for a lawsuit.
 <deponent>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a person deposed in a casedeponent  a person testifying (stating answers in response to questions) at a deposition.
deposition   the taking and recording of testimony of a witness under oath before a court reporter in a place away from the courtroom before trial. A deposition is part of permitted pre-trial discovery (investigation), set up by an attorney for one of the parties to a lawsuit demanding the sworn testimony of the opposing party (defendant or plaintiff), a witness to an event, or an expert intended to be called at trial by the opposition.
 <disposition>  @stage, @whenAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the outcome of a case, with the date, and during which stage of litigation it occurred (pre-trial, trial, appeal, etc.)disposition   the court's final determination of a lawsuit or criminal charge.
dissent  the opinion of a judge of a court of appeals, including the U.S. Supreme Court, which disagrees with the majority opinion.
 <div>  @legalFunctionAn attribute of <div1>, <div2>, or <seg> elements used in the body to describe the legal function of a document or part of a document as it changes from section to section
foreman   the head juror.
grand jury  a type of jury that determines whether a criminal indictment will be issued.
habeas corpus  Latin for "you have the body," it is a writ (court order) which directs the law enforcement officials (prison administrators, police or sheriff) who have custody of a prisoner to appear in court with the prisoner to help the judge determine whether the prisoner is lawfully in prison or jail. The writ is obtained by petition to a judge in the county or district where the prisoner is incarcerated, and the judge sets a hearing on whether there is a legal basis for holding the prisoner.
inquest  an investigation and/or a hearing held by the coroner (a county official) when there is a violent death either by accident or homicide, the cause of death is not immediately clear, there are mysterious circumstances surrounding the death, or the deceased was a prisoner.
interrogatories  a formal set of written questions propounded by one litigant and required to be answered by an adversary in order to clarify matters of fact and help to determine ina dvance what facts will be presented at trial.
 <judge> @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the judge assigned to the case, and what type of judge he or she is – presiding, trial, appellate, etc.judge  an official with the authority and responsibility to preside in a court, try lawsuits and make legal rulings.
judgment   the final decision by a court in a lawsuit, criminal prosecution or appeal from a lower court's judgment, except for an "interlocutory judgment," which is tentative until a final judgment is made.
 <juror> @roleAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a juror in a case, and their role if a foreman or alternatejuror  any person who actually serves on a jury.
jury instructions  the set of legal rules that jurors should follow when the jury is deciding a civil or criminal case.
 <justiceOfPeace>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the judge assigned to the case, and what type of judge he or she is – presiding, trial, appellate, etc.justice of the peace  a judge who handles minor legal matters such as misdemeanors, small claims actions and traffic matters in "justice courts." Dating back to early English common law, "JPs" were very common up to the 1950s, but they now exist primarily in rural "justice districts" from which it is unreasonable for the public to travel to the county seat for trials of minor matters.
 <legalDoc> @when,  @genre, @type,  @stagelitAn empty element in the <legalDocDesc> describing the date, genre (civil, criminal, transactional, legislative, scholarly, other) and type of document, and the stage during which this document was produced (pleading, discovery, trial, appeal, etc.)
 <legalDocDesc>A header section that contains information about an individual legal document
 <legalTitle>An element in the <legalDocDesc> that contains the title of a document
majority opinion  a judicial opinion agreed to by more than half of the members of a court.
motion  a formal request made to a judge for an order or judgment.
 <nextFriend>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a person who acts as a next friend in a casenext friend  a person (often a relative) who voluntarily helps a minor or incompetent in legal matters, particularly by filing a lawsuit.
notary  a person authorized by the state in which the person resides to administer oaths (swearings to truth of a statement), take acknowledgments, certify documents and to take depositions if the notary is also a court reporter.
notice  information, usually in writing in all legal proceedings, of all documents filed, decisions, requests, motions, petitions, and upcoming dates.
opinion  the explanation of a court's judgment.
order  every direction or mandate of a judge or a court which is not a judgment or legal opinion (although both may include an order) directing that something be done or that there is prohibition against some act.
 <party> @role,  @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a party to a case and identifies their role as plaintiff, defendant, appellant, appellee, respondent, or petitionerparty  one of the participants in a lawsuit or other legal proceeding who has an interest in the outcome.
petition  a formal written request to a court for an order of the court. It is distinguished from a complaint in a lawsuit which asks for damages and/or performance by the opposing party.
petitioner  one who files a petition.
plaintiff  the party who initiates a lawsuit by filing a complaint with the clerk of the court against the defendant(s) demanding damages, performance and/or court determination of rights.
plea   any written answer or other response filed by a defendant to a complaint or petition in a civil lawsuit; in ciminal law, the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime.
protest  a written demand for payment of the amount owed on a promissory note which has not been paid when due or a check which has been dishonored (not paid by the bank).
 <relatedCase>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains a reference to a case related in some way to the current case
reply  the written legal argument of the respondent (trial court winner) in answer to the "opening brief" of an appellant (a trial court loser who has appealed).
request for production  when a party to a lawsuit requests that another party provide any documents it has pertaining to the subject matter of the lawsuit.
respondent  the party who is required to answer a petition for a court order or writ requiring the respondent to take some action, halt an activity or obey a court's direction.
 <sheriff> @typeAn element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of the sheriff, or the individual fulfilling the sheriff's duties, for a case (deputy, constable, commissioner, etc.)sheriff  the top law enforcement officer for a county, usually elected and responsible for police protection outside of incorporated cities, management of the county jail, providing bailiffs for protection of the courts, and such civil activities as serving summonses, subpenas and writs, conducting judgment sales, and fulfilling various functions ordered by the courts.
 <starP> @vol, @pg,  @rpt, @nAn element in the body that notes a star pagination reference, including volume, page, and name of reporterstar pagination  A method of referring to a page in an earlier edition of a book, esp. a legal source. This method correlates the pagination of the later edition with that of the earlier edition.
subpoena  an order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify and/or produce documents in the control of the witness.
summons  a document issued by the court at the time a lawsuit is filed, stating the name of both plaintiff and defendant, the title and file number of the case, the court and its address, the name and address of the plaintiff's attorney, and instructions as to the need to file a response to the complaint within a certain time (such as 30 days after service), usually with a form on the back on which information of service of summons and complaint is to be filled out and signed by the process server. A copy of the summons must be served on each defendant at the same time as the complaint to start the time running for the defendant to answer.
transcript  the written record of all proceedings, including testimony, in a trial, hearing or deposition (out-of-court testimony under oath).
trial brief  a brief presented at trial to resolve a disputed point of evidence.
verdict  the decision of a jury after a trial, which must be accepted by the trial judge to be final. A judgment by a judge sitting without a jury is not a verdict. A "special verdict" is a decision by the jury on the factual questions in the case, leaving the application of the law to those facts to the judge, who makes the final judgment. A "directed verdict" is a decision following an instruction by the judge that the jury can only bring in a specific verdict ("based on the evidence you must bring in a verdict of 'not guilty'").
 <victim>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a victim in a casevictim  a person harmed, injured, or killed as a result of a crime, accident, or other event or action.
 <witness>An element in the <caseDesc> that contains the name of a witness in the casewitness   a person who testifies under oath in a trial (or a deposition which may be used in a trial if the witness is not available) with first-hand or expert evidence useful in a lawsuit. A party to the lawsuit (plaintiff or defendant) may be a witness.
writ  a written order of a judge requiring specific action by the person or entity to whom the writ is directed.