Glossary of Legal Terms H
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HABEAS CORPUS (HAY be us KOR pus): writ that orders a person to be brought before a judge, usually to determine whether that individual is being legally detained or imprisoned.
HARMLESS ERROR: error committed during trial which was not serious enough to affect the outcome of the trial and thus is not grounds for reversal.
HEARSAY: evidence not known to a witness personally, but which was relayed to witness by a third party, i.e., secondhand information. Generally inadmissible in court, although exceptions exist under which it can be admitted.
HOLOGRAPHIC WILL: unwitnessed will written entirely by testator in his/her own handwriting, usually unwitnessed.
HOSTILE WITNESS: witness biased against the examining party or who does not want to testify. May be asked leading questions.
HOUSE ARREST: sentence or type of arrest whereby an individual is confined to his/her residence except for pre-approved trips, such as medical appointments, work, community service obligations, etc. Often used in connection with electronic monitoring.
HUNG JURY: jury unable to reach a verdict.
HYPOTHETICAL QUESTION: imaginary situation, incorporating facts previously established, upon which an expert witness is permitted to give an opinion. Most often asked of medical experts in personal injury suits.