Glossary

abandonment
The act of intentionally and permanently giving up, surrendering, deserting, or relinquishing property (http://dictionary.law.com).
absolute privilege
A privilege that immunizes an actor from suit, no matter how wrongful the action might be and even though it is done with an improper motive (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
accrue (or accrual)
In legal parlance, the coming into being of the right to bring a lawsuit. For example, the right to sue on a contract only accrues when the contract is breached (not on mere suspicion that it might be breached) or when the other party repudiates the contract (anticipatory breach) (http://dictionary.law.com).
acquisitive prescription
1) The acquisition of title to a thing (especially an intangible thing such as the use of real property) by open and continuous possession over a statutory period; 2) A mode of acquiring ownership or other legal rights through possession for a specified period of time (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)). See also prescription.
Act of State Doctrine
The principle that no nation can judge the legality of a foreign country's sovereign acts within its own territory. As originally formulated by the U.S. Supreme Court in 1897, the doctrine provides that “the courts of one country will not sit in judgment on the acts of the government of another done within its own territory.” Underhill v. Hernandez, 168 U.S. 250, 252 (1897). The Supreme Court later declared that though the Act of State Doctrine is compelled by neither international law nor the Constitution, it has “institutional underpinnings.” Banco Nacional de Cuba v. Sabbatino, 376 U.S. 398, 423 (1964) (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
actual discovery
Obtaining substantive knowledge of previously unknown facts (for example, the identity of the person in possession of the property), at which time a statute of limitations begins to run.
actual malice
1) The deliberate intent to commit an injury, as evidenced by external circumstances; 2) Defamation. Knowledge (by the person who utters or publishes a defamatory statement) that a statement is false, or reckless disregard about whether the statement is true (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
adverse possession
The attribution of legal ownership of property to a party against the holder of title under a claim of right and through actual, exclusive, open, notorious, and hostile possession of the property for the duration of the time period set by a statute of limitations.
ancillary administrator
An ancillary administrator/ administratrix is a person chosen by the executor of an estate to handle the property of the deceased in a state other than the one in which the estate is probated. (West's Encyclopedia of American Law (2nd ed., 2008)).
antiquity
An object, especially something archaeologically, historically or artistically valuable or interesting, that dates from a previous era.
arbitration
A method of dispute resolution normally involving one or more neutral third parties who are usually agreed to by the disputing parties and whose decision is normally, although not necessarily, binding.
attribution
The ascribing of something to someone or something, for example, authorship of a work of art to a specific artist.
authenticity
The genuineness or truth of something; in art, the determination or judgment that a work is by the artist to whom it has been attributed.
bailee
a person or entity entrusted with the property of another for safe-keeping.
bailment
1) The act of placing property in the custody and control of another, usually by agreement in which the holder (bailee) is responsible for the safekeeping and return of the property; 2) The goods held by a bailee.
bilateral agreement
An agreement between two, usually sovereign, parties.
bona fide purchaser
See good faith purchaser.
breach of contract
Violation of a contractual obligation by failing to perform one's own promise, by repudiating it, or by interfering with another party's performance (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
burden of proof
The requirement that the plaintiff (the party bringing a civil lawsuit) show by a "preponderance of evidence" or "weight of evidence" that all the facts necessary to win a judgment are presented and are probably true. In a criminal trial the burden of proof required of the prosecutor is to prove the guilt of the accused "beyond a reasonable doubt," a much more difficult task. (http://dictionary.law.com).
catalogue raisonné
A publication which details the complete list of an artist’s works or the artist’s works produced in a particular medium or during a particular time period...
caveat emptor
Latin for “Let the buyer beware.”
chattel
Movable or transferable property; personal property.
choice of law
The question of which jurisdiction's law should apply in a given case (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
clear and convincing evidence
Evidence indicating that a fact to be proved is highly probable or reasonably certain. This is a greater burden than “preponderance of the evidence,” the standard applied in most civil trials, but less than evidence “beyond a reasonable doubt,” the standard for criminal trials (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
common law
1) The body of law derived from judicial decisions based on precedent, tradition and custom, rather than from statutes; 2) The body of law based on the English legal system, as distinct from a civil-law system; the general Anglo-American system of legal concepts, together with the techniques of applying them, that form the basis of the law in jurisdictions where the system applies (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
complaint
The first document filed with a court by a person or entity bringing a legal action against another. The party filing the complaint is usually called the plaintiff and the party against whom the complaint is filed is called the defendant. Complaints are pleadings and must be drafted carefully (usually by an attorney) to properly state the factual as well as legal basis for the claim. Some states, however, have approved complaint forms which can be filled in by an individual. A complaint also must follow statutory requirements as to form (http://dictionary.law.com).
confiscation
Seizure of property by actual or supposed authority (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
consignment
The act of conveying goods to one who will sell them for the owner or transport them for the owner.
consignment sale
A sale of an owner's property (such as clothing or furniture) by a third party entrusted to make the sale (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)). See consignment.
conspiracy to sell stolen property
An agreement to sell stolen goods.
constructive trust
When a person has title to property or takes possession of it under circumstances in which he is holding it for another, even though there is no formal trust document or agreement. The court may determine that the holder of the title holds it as constructive trustee for the benefit of the intended owner. This may occur through fraud, breach of faith, ignorance or inadvertence (http://dictionary.law.com).
convention
An international agreement or treaty.
conversion
A civil wrong (tort) in which one converts another's property to his own use; in other words, “stealing.” Conversion includes treating another's goods as one's own, holding onto such property which accidentally comes into the taker’s hands, or purposely giving the impression that the assets belong to the taker. This gives the true owner the right to sue for his own property or the value and loss of use of it, as well recourse to law enforcement authorities, since conversion usually includes the crime of theft (http://dictionary.law.com).
copyright
A property right in an original work of authorship (including literary, musical, dramatic, choreographic, pictorial, graphic, sculptural, and architectural works; motion pictures and other audiovisual works; and sound recordings) fixed in any tangible medium of expression, giving the holder the exclusive right to reproduce, adapt, distribute, perform, and display the work (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
copyright infringement
The act of violating any of a copyright owner's exclusive rights granted by law. In the United States, a copyright owner has several exclusive rights in copyrighted works, including the rights (a) to reproduce the work, (b) to prepare derivative works based on the work, (c) to distribute copies of the work, (d) for certain kinds of works, to perform the work publicly, (e) for certain kinds of works, to display the work publicly, (f) for sound recordings, to perform the work publicly, and (g) to import into the United States copies acquired elsewhere (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
deaccession
To remove or dispose of an item from a museum’s collection.
deception
The act of misleading another through intentionally false statements or fraudulent actions (http://dictionary.law.com).
declaratory judgment
A binding adjudication that determines the rights, duties, or obligations of each party in a dispute without ordering any specific legal consequences.
defamation
1) The act of harming the reputation of another by making a false statement to a third person; 2) A false written or oral statement that damages another's reputation (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
defendant-in-rem
A property or things against which the suit is being brought.
Demand and Refusal Rule
A common law rule followed by New York courts providing that, in determining when a statute of limitations begins to run, the cause of action to recover stolen property from a good faith purchaser or other possessor does not accrue until the possessor refuses to return the object upon the demand of the owner.
discovery
The process in a legal proceeding, closely identified with United States practice, during which each side must provide data and documents to the other side.
Discovery Rule
The rule that a limitations period does not begin to run until a plaintiff discovers (or reasonably should have discovered) the injury giving rise to a claim (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
dismissal
1) The act of voluntarily terminating a criminal prosecution or a lawsuit or one of its causes of action by one of the parties; 2) a judge's ruling that a lawsuit or criminal charge is terminated; 3) an appeals court's act of dismissing an appeal, letting the lower court decision stand; 4) the act of a plaintiff dismissing a lawsuit upon settling the case. Such a dismissal may be dismissal with prejudice, meaning it can never be filed again, or dismissal without prejudice, leaving open the possibility of bringing the suit again if the defendant does not follow through on the terms of the settlement (http://dictionary.law.com).
diversity jurisdiction
A federal court's exercise of authority over a case involving parties who are citizens of different states and an amount in controversy greater than a statutory minimum (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
double jeopardy clause
The provision of the Fifth Amendment of the United States Constitution that states, “nor shall any person be subject for the same offense to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb” (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
droit moral
The doctrine of moral rights, which grants artists various entitlements in relation to their creations. This doctrine is particularly strong in France. The basic rights protected by the doctrine are (a) the right to create, (b) the right to disclose or publish, (c) the right to withdraw from publication, (d) the right to be identified with the work, and (e) the right to ensure the integrity of the work, including the right to object to any mutilation or distortion of the work.
due diligence
The diligence reasonably expected from, and ordinarily exercised by, a person who seeks to satisfy a legal requirement or to discharge an obligation. In relation to the acquisition of art, it refers to a prospective buyer’s investigation and analysis of the object.
duty of care
A requirement that a person act toward others and the public with the watchfulness, attention, caution and prudence that a reasonable person under the circumstances would use. If a person's actions do not meet this standard of care, then the acts are considered negligent, and any damages resulting may be claimed in a lawsuit for negligence. See also negligence and standard of care (http://dictionary.law.com).
en banc
a hearing before all the judges of an appellate court, rather than a traditional three-judge panel.
entrustment
The act of conveying responsibility over goods through the delivery or relinquishment of possession of such goods.
equitable defense
1) A defendant’s stated reason why the plaintiff or prosecutor has no valid case; 2) A defense formerly available only in a court of equity but now maintainable in a court of law. Examples include mistake, fraud, illegality, failure of consideration, forum non conveniens, laches, estoppel, and unclean hands (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
equitable estoppel
A defensive doctrine preventing one party from taking unfair advantage of another when, through false language or conduct, the person to be estopped has induced another person to act in a certain way, with the result that the other person has been injured in some way. This doctrine is founded on principles of fraud (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
estoppel
The legal doctrine that prevents a party from asserting a position that is inconsistent with a previously stated position, previous conduct, or legally established fact.
ex post facto
Latin for “after the fact.” Refers to laws adopted after a pertinent act is committed, or which increase the penalty for a crime after it is committed.
expert opinion
In a legal action, the belief or judgment provided by an individual concerning a particular subject in which the person has developed a specialized skill or knowledge.
fair comment
A statement based on the writer's or speaker's honest opinion about a matter of public concern. Fair comment is a defense to libel or slander (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
fair market value
The value of property on the open market involving a willing buyer and a willing seller.
fair use
A reasonable and limited use of a copyrighted work without the author's permission, such as quoting from a book in a book review or using parts of it in a parody. Fair use is a defense to an infringement claim, depending on the following statutory factors: (a) the purpose and character of the use, (b) the nature of the copyrighted work, (c) the amount of the work used, and (d) the economic impact of the use (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
federal court of appeals
Any of 13 mid-level courts within the United States federal court system, between the federal district (trial) courts and the United States Supreme Court, having the jurisdiction to decide appeals from the district court and some federal administrative decisions. Also known as United States Court of Appeals.
Federal District Court
Any general jurisdiction trial court of the United States federal court system (one or more in each state). Also known as United States District Court.
felony
A serious crime (as contrasted with a misdemeanor), usually punishable by imprisonment. Examples include burglary, arson, rape, and murder.
felony indictment
A formal charge, normally made by a grand jury, against an individual deemed to have committed a serious criminal offense.
fiduciary duty
1) Any action, performance, task, or observance owed by a person in an official or fiduciary capacity; 2) A duty of utmost good faith, trust, confidence, and candor owed by a fiduciary (such as a lawyer or corporate officer) to the beneficiary (such as a lawyer's client or a shareholder); a duty to act with the highest degree of honesty and loyalty toward another person and in the best interests of the other person (such as the duty that one partner owes to another) (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
financing statement
A legal document which serves as public notice to all subsequent creditors that the filing party has the right to take possession of certain property, thus securing his interest in the property. If a party does not file a financing statement, he is said to have an “unsecured” interest in the property.
forced sale
1) In art restitution claims, the concept that a work was sold under duress or otherwise coerced; 2) An involuntary sale of goods to satisfy (pay) a legal judgment.
forfeiture
Loss of property under compulsion of legal authority.
forgery
The crime of creating a false document, altering a document, or writing a false signature for the illegal benefit of the person making the forgery (http://dictionary.law.com).
forum non conveniens
A discretionary legal doctrine that allows a state or federal court to dismiss a case over which it has proper jurisdiction because it is substantially inconvenient for the parties and the witnesses.
fraud
The intentional use of deceit, a trick or some dishonest means to deprive another of his money, property or legal right, either as a cause of action or as a fatal element in the action itself.
fraudulent misrepresentation
A false statement that is known to be false or is made recklessly, without knowing or caring whether it is true or false, and that is intended to induce a party to detrimentally rely on it (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
fraudulent omission
A deceptive act of leaving something out of a document or statement.
good faith purchaser
One who buys something for value without notice of another's claim to the property and without actual or constructive notice of any defects in or infirmities, claims, or equities against the seller's title; one who has in good faith paid valuable consideration for property without notice of prior adverse claims (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
government immunity
See sovereign immunity.
illegal export
An item that is transferred from one country to another in violation of the laws of the item’s country of origin.
illegal import
An item that is transferred to one country from another in violation of either the laws of the country to which the item is transferred or the laws of the item’s country of origin.
in rem
An in rem action or proceeding is one in which the judgment of the court determines the title to property and the rights of the parties, not merely among themselves, but also as against all persons at any time dealing with them or with the property upon which the court had adjudicated. The court’s jurisdiction is based on either actual or imputed power over the property itself.
indemnity
The act of making someone “whole” (giving them equal to what they have lost), or protecting them from (insuring them against) any losses that have occurred or will occur (http://dictionary.law.com).
indictment
See felony indictment.
infringement
In the law of patents (protected inventions) and copyrights (protected writings or graphics), the improper use of a patent, writing, graphic or trademark without permission, without notice, and especially without contracting for payment of a royalty. Even though the infringement may be accidental, the party infringing is responsible to pay the original patent or copyright owner substantial damages, which can be the normal royalty or as much as the infringer’s accumulated gross profits (http://dictionary.law.com).
injunction
An equitable court order commanding or preventing an action. To get an injunction, the complainant must show that there is no plain, adequate, and complete remedy at law and that an irreparable injury will result unless the relief is granted (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
Innocent Construction Rule
The doctrine that an allegedly libelous statement will be given an innocuous interpretation if the statement is either ambiguous or harmless (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
innocent owner defense
A forfeiture-action defense in which the owner of property asserts that another person committed the wrongful act or omission while using the property without the owner's knowledge or consent (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
intangible property
Items such as stock in a company that may represent value but are not physical objects.
inter vivos
Latin for “among the living,” usually referring to the gift or transfer of property by agreement between living persons and not through a will. It can also refer to a trust that commences during the lifetime of the person creating the trust.
interpleader
an equitable proceeding which allows a court to determine the ownership rights of rival claimants to money or property that is being held by a third party without a claim to it
jurisdiction
The authority given by law to a court to try cases and rule on legal matters within a particular geographic area or over certain types of legal cases. It is vital to determine before a lawsuit is filed which court has jurisdiction. State courts have jurisdiction over matters within that state, and different levels of courts have jurisdiction over lawsuits involving different amounts of money (http://dictionary.law.com).
laches
Unreasonable delay in pursuing a right or claim, almost always an equitable one, in a way that prejudices the party against whom relief is sought (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
legislation
1) The process of making or enacting a positive law in written form, according to some type of formal procedure, by a branch of government constituted to perform this process; 2) The law so enacted; 3) The whole body of enacted laws (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
lex situs
The law of the place where property is located. A choice-of-law rule that governs an issue or case involving that property.
libel
A malicious publication, expressed either in printing, writing, typewriting, or by signs and pictures, that blackens the memory of one who is dead, or the reputation of one who is alive, and expose him to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule. (Ballentine's Law Dictionary)
limited purpose public figure
A person who, having become involved in a particular public issue, has achieved fame or notoriety only in relation to that particular issue (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
malice
Intended ill will.
moral rights
The right of an author or artist, based on natural-law principles, to guarantee the integrity of a creation despite any copyright or property-law right of its owner. Moral rights include rights of (a) attribution (also termed “paternity”), the right to be given credit and to claim credit for a work, and to deny credit if the work is changed, (b) integrity, the right to ensure that the work is not changed without the artist's consent, (c) publication, the right not to reveal a work before its creator is satisfied with it, and (d) retraction, the right to renounce a work and withdraw it from sale or display (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
mutual mistake
1) A mistake in which each party misunderstands the other's intent; 2) A mistake that is shared and relied on by both parties to a contract. A court will often revise or nullify a contract based on a mutual mistake about a material term (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
negligence
The failure to exercise the standard of care that a reasonably prudent person would have exercised in a similar situation; any conduct that falls below the legal standard established to protect others against unreasonable risk of harm, except for conduct that is intentionally, wantonly, or willfully disregardful of others' rights (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
negligent misrepresentation
A careless or inadvertent false statement in circumstances where care should have been taken (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
New York Appellate Division
A mid-level appellate court in the New York state court system that has the jurisdiction to decide appeals from the trial courts of one of the state’s four judicial departments.
New York Court of Appeals
The highest court in the New York state court system.
New York Supreme Court
The trial court of general jurisdiction in the New York state court system.
notice
1) Legal notification required by law or agreement, or imparted by operation of law as a result of some fact (such as the recording of an instrument); definite legal cognizance, actual or constructive, of an existing right or title. A person has notice of a fact or condition if that person (a) has actual knowledge of it, (b) has received information about it, (c) has reason to know about it, (d) knows about a related fact, or (e) is considered as having been able to ascertain it by checking an official filing or recording. 2) The condition of being so notified, whether or not actual awareness exists (8th ed. 2004)).
parody
A transformative use of a well-known work for purposes of satirizing, ridiculing, critiquing, or commenting on the original work, as opposed to merely alluding to the original to draw attention to the later work. In constitutional law, a parody is protected as free speech. In copyright law, a work must meet the definition of a parody and be a fair use of the copyrighted material, or else it may constitute infringement (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
patrimony
The fundamental objects, traditions, or values that one generation or society has inherited from its ancestors.
personal jurisdiction
A court's power to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant's personal rights, rather than merely over property interests (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
petition for certiorari
A petition seeking discretionary review from an appellate court, usually the highest court within the legal system.
plea
In criminal law, the response by an accused defendant to each charge of the commission of a crime. Pleas normally are (a) "not guilty," (b) "guilty," (c) in some legal systems and jurisdictions, "no contest" (admitting the facts, but unwilling to plead "guilty," thus resulting in the equivalent of a "guilty" verdict but without admitting the crime), or (d) "not guilty by reason of insanity" (at the time of the criminal act) (http://dictionary.law.com).
pleading
1) A formal document in which a party to a legal proceeding sets forth or responds to allegations, claims, denials, or defenses. In federal civil procedure, the main pleadings are the plaintiff's complaint and the defendant's answer. 2) A system of defining and narrowing the issues in a lawsuit whereby the parties file formal documents alleging their respective positions (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
preponderance of the evidence
The greater weight of the evidence required in a civil lawsuit for the judge or jury to decide in favor of one side over the other. “Preponderance of the evidence” is contrasted with "beyond a reasonable doubt," the more severe test of evidence required for conviction in a criminal trial.
prescription
Under common law, prescription is the method of acquiring an easement upon someone else’s real property by continued and regular use without permission of the property owner for an established period of years. Under civil law, “liberative prescription” is a method of barring actions as a result of inaction for a period of time, similar to the statute of limitations (q.v.) in common law. “Acquisitive prescription” is a method of acquiring ownership by possession for a period of time, similar to acquiring legal title through adverse possession (q.v.) under the statute of limitations.
prescriptive
See prescription.
prima facie
Latin for "at first look," or "on its face," referring to a lawsuit or criminal prosecution in which the evidence before trial is sufficient to prove the case unless there is substantial contradictory evidence presented at trial. A prima facie case presented to a Grand Jury by the prosecution will result in an indictment (http://dictionary.law.com).
procedural issue or law
The rules that prescribe the steps for having a right or duty judicially enforced, as opposed to the law that defines the specific rights or duties themselves (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
promissory estoppel
A false statement treated as a promise by a court when the listener has relied to his disadvantage on what was told to him. In order to see that justice is done, a judge will preclude the maker of the statement from denying it. Thus, the legal inability of the person who made the false statement to deny it makes it an enforceable promise called “promissory estoppel,” or “equitable estoppel” (http://dictionary.law.com). See also estoppel.
protocol
A treaty amending and supplementing another treaty (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
provenance
The history of the ownership of an object or work of art; sometimes also used to describe the place of origin, or the find-spot, of an archaeological object or other antiquity (more correctly, “provenience”).
quantum meruit
Latin for "as much as he has deserved" 1) The reasonable value of services; damages awarded in an amount considered reasonable to compensate a person who has rendered services in a quasi-contractual relationship; 2) A claim or right of action for the reasonable value of services rendered; 3) At common law, a count in an assumpsit action to recover payment for services rendered to another person. Quantum meruit is still used today as an equitable remedy to provide restitution for unjust enrichment. It is often pleaded as an alternative claim in a breach-of-contract case so that the plaintiff can recover even if the contract is unenforceable (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
quash
To annul or set aside. In law, a motion to quash asks the judge for an order setting aside or nullifying an action, such as "quashing" service of a summons when the wrong person was served (http://dictionary.law.com).
quiet title
A lawsuit to establish a party's title to real property against anyone and everyone, and thus "quiet" any challenges or claims to the title (http://dictionary.law.com).
reasonable diligence
An appropriate degree of diligence expected from someone of ordinary prudence under circumstances like those at issue in a dispute (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
rebuttable presumption
An inference drawn from certain facts, which may be overcome by the introduction of contrary evidence.
reckless disregard
Conscious indifference to the consequences of an act.
reformation
The correction or change of an existing document by court order upon petition of one of the parties to the document. Reformation will be ordered if there is proof that the parties did not intend the language as written or if there was an omission due to mistake or misunderstanding. Quite often a party petitions for reformation when one or both parties realize the effect of the document as written is different from what was expected, but it has already been recorded or filed with a governmental agency (http://dictionary.law.com).
regulation
Rules and administrative codes issued by governmental agencies at all levels, municipal, county, state, and federal. Although they are not laws, regulations have the force of law, since they are adopted under authority granted by statutes, and often include penalties for violations (http://dictionary.law.com).
remand
1) The act or an instance of sending something (such as a case, claim, or person) back for further action; 2) An order remanding a case, claim, or person (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
replevin
A legal action in which an original owner seeks to recover possession of property wrongfully taken or retained by another party.
rescission
The cancellation of a contract by mutual agreement of the parties (http://dictionary.law.com).
restitution
The return or restoration of an art object or other specific thing to its rightful owner or status.
sanction
Official approval or authorization, or, almost the opposite, a penalty or coercive measure that results from failure to comply with a law, rule, or order (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
settlement
An agreement ending a lawsuit or other dispute.
slander of title
A false and malicious statement, oral or written, in disparagement of a person's title to real or personal property, causing him special damage (Ballentine’s Law Dictionary (1969)).
sovereign immunity
A government's immunity from being sued without its consent in either its own courts or in those of another jurisdiction. Congress waived most of the federal government's sovereign immunity in the Federal Tort Claims Act. The Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act of the United States established the only, highly restrictive, basis for suing a foreign sovereign in a state or federal court.
standing
A party's right to make a legal claim or seek judicial enforcement of a duty or right. To have standing in federal court, a plaintiff must show (a) that the challenged conduct has caused the plaintiff actual injury, and (b) that the interest sought to be protected is within the zone of interests meant to be regulated by the statutory or constitutional guarantee in question (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
statute
A law passed by a legislative body; specifically, legislation enacted by any lawmaking body, including legislatures, administrative boards, and municipal courts (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
statute of limitations
1) A law that bars claims after a specified period; specifically, a statute establishing a time limit for suing in a civil case, based on the date when the claim accrued (as when the injury occurred or was discovered). The purpose of such a statute is to require diligent prosecution of known claims, thereby providing finality and predictability in legal affairs and ensuring that claims will be resolved while evidence is reasonably available and fresh. 2) A statute establishing a time limit for prosecuting a crime, based on the date when the offense occurred (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
statutory estoppel
The legal doctrine that prevents a party from asserting a position that is inconsistent with an established law.
stipulated judgment
A settlement that becomes a court judgment when the judge sanctions it; a contract, acknowledged in open court and ordered to be recorded, that binds the parties as fully as other judgments (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
subject matter jurisdiction
Jurisdiction over the nature of the case and the type of relief sought; the extent to which a court can rule on the conduct of persons or the status of things (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
subpoena/subpena
An order of the court for a witness to appear at a particular time and place to testify or produce documents in the control of the witness (if a "subpena duces tecum"). A subpoena is used to obtain testimony from a witness at depositions (testimony under oath taken outside of court) and at trial (http://dictionary.law.com).
substantive law
The part of the law that creates, defines, and regulates the rights, duties, and powers of parties, as opposed to the procedural law that governs the adjudication of disputes concerning such rights, duties, and powers.
summary adjudication
A motion for summary adjudication seeks dismissal of certain factual issues within the opponent’s claim, unlike a summary judgment motion, which seeks dismissal of the opponent’s entire claim. Both motions, however, are subject to the same standard of review by the court.
summary judgment
A judgment granted on a claim or defense about which there is no genuine issue of material fact and upon which the movant is entitled to prevail as a matter of law. The court considers the contents of the pleadings, the motions, and additional evidence adduced by the parties to determine whether there is a genuine issue of material fact rather than one of law. This procedural device allows the speedy disposition of a controversy without the need for trial (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
Supreme Court of the United States
The highest court in the United States, which has the ultimate power to decide constitutional questions and other appeals based on the jurisdiction granted by the constitution, as well as a limited range of cases of first instance (for example, disputes between states of the union) (http://dictionary.law.com).
tangible property
Property that has physical form and characteristics (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
temporary restraining order
A temporary order of a court to keep conditions as they are (like not taking a child out of the county or not selling marital property) until there can be a hearing in which both parties are present (http://dictionary.law.com).
third party defendant
A party brought into a lawsuit by an original defendant (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
title
Ownership of real property or personal property, which stands against the right of anyone else to claim the property. In real property, title is evidenced by a deed, judgment of distribution from an estate, or other appropriate document recorded in the public records of the county. Title to personal property is generally shown by possession, particularly when no proof or strong evidence exists showing that the property belongs to another or that it has been stolen or known to be lost by another (http://dictionary.law.com).
toll
1) n. A tax or due paid for the use of something, especially the consideration paid either to use a public road, highway, or bridge; 2) v. to suspend the running of the time period for a statute of limitations.
tort
A civil wrong or wrongful act, whether intentional or accidental, resulting in injury to another. Torts include all negligence cases as well as intentional wrongs that result in harm.
trade dress
A form of intellectual property that generally refers to characteristics of the visual appearance of a product or its packaging that signify the source of the product to consumers.
trademark
a limited property right in a particular word, phrase, or symbol that is used to identify a manufacturer or sponsor of a good or the provider of a service. See 15 U.S.C. 1051
unconscionable
Referring to a contract or bargain which is so unfair to a party that no reasonable or informed person would agree to it (http://dictionary.law.com).
Uniform Commercial Code
A uniform law that governs commercial transactions, including sales of goods, secured transactions, and negotiable instruments. The Code has been adopted in some form by every state in the United States (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
unjust enrichment
1) The retention of a benefit conferred by another, without offering compensation, in circumstances where compensation is reasonably expected; 2) A benefit obtained from another, not intended as a gift and not legally justifiable, for which the beneficiary must make restitution or recompense (Black’s Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).
venue
The site provided by law or chosen by the parties for adjudication of a dispute. In art, the site of an exhibition.
with prejudice
A dismissal with prejudice finally adjudicates the dismissed claim, and bars the right to bring or maintain any action on the same claim.
writ of certiorari
An extraordinary writ issued by an appellate court, at its discretion, directing a lower court to deliver the record in the case for review. The U.S. Supreme Court uses certiorari to review most of the cases that it decides to hear (Black's Law Dictionary (8th ed. 2004)).