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Acquittal

A jury verdict that a criminal defendant is not guilty, or the finding of a judge that the evidence is insufficient to support a conviction.

Action

A legal demand for a right asserted by instituting a case in court.

Active Judge

A judge in the full-time service of the court. Compare to senior judge.

Adjournment

To temporarily postpone or reschedule the proceedings of a case until a future time.

Adjudication

A judgment or decree.

Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO)

The federal agency responsible for collecting court statistics, administering the federal courts’ budget, and performing many other administrative and programmatic functions, under the direction and supervision of the Judicial Conference of the United States.

Admissible

A term used to describe evidence that may be considered by a jury or judge in civil and criminal cases.

Adversary Proceeding

A lawsuit arising in or related to a bankruptcy case that begins by filing a complaint with the court, that is, a “trial” that takes place within the context of a bankruptcy case.

Affidavit

A written or printed statement made under oath.

Affirmed

In the practice of the court of appeals, it means that the court of appeals has concluded that the lower court decision is correct and will stand as rendered by the lower court.

Allegation

The act of a party to a legal action of stating what he/she intends to prove

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Ways of helping people resolve legal problems out of court. Collaborative law and mediation are types of ADR.

Alternate Juror

A juror selected in the same manner as a regular juror who hears all the evidence but does not help decide the case unless called on to replace a regular juror.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

A procedure for settling a dispute outside the courtroom. Most forms of ADR are not binding, and involve referral of the case to a neutral party such as an arbitrator or mediator.

Amicus Curiae

Latin for “friend of the court.” It is advice formally offered to the court in a brief filed by an entity interested in, but not a party to, the case.

Answer

The formal written statement by a defendant in a civil case that responds to a complaint, articulating the grounds for defense.

Apostille

A form of authentication issued to documents for use in countries that participate in the Hague Convention of 1961.

Appeal

A request made after a trial by a party that has lost on one or more issues that a higher court review the decision to determine if it was correct. To make such a request is “to appeal” or “to take an appeal.” One who appeals is called the “appellant;” the other party is the “appellee.”

Appearance

When a defendant submits to the jurisdiction of the court.

Appellant

The party who appeals a district court’s decision, usually seeking reversal of that decision.

Appellate

About appeals; an appellate court has the power to review the judgment of a lower court (trial court) or tribunal. For example, the U.S. circuit courts of appeals review the decisions of the U.S. district courts.

Appellee

The party who opposes an appellant’s appeal, and who seeks to persuade the appeals court to affirm the district court’s decision.

Arraignment

A proceeding in which a criminal defendant is brought into court, told of the charges in an indictment or information, and asked to plead guilty or not guilty.

Arrest Warrant

A court order directing a peace officer to arrest/seize a named person to bring her or him before the court for arraignment.

Article 78

A special proceeding brought to challenge the activities of an administrative agency.

Article 81

A special proceeding under the Mental Hygiene Law to name a person as the guardian of another. Once appointed, the guardian is invested with the power and charged with the duty of taking care of the person and managing the property and rights of that person, who is considered incapable of administering his or her own affairs.

Article III Judge

A federal judge who is appointed for life, during “good behavior,” under Article III of the Constitution. Article III judges are nominated by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

Assets

Property of all kinds, including real and personal, tangible and intangible.

Assigned Counsel

An attorney assigned by the court to represent a defendant without charge.

Assume

An agreement to continue performing duties under a contract or lease.

Automatic Stay

An injunction that automatically stops lawsuits, foreclosures, garnishments, and most collection activities against the debtor the moment a bankruptcy petition is filed.