Glossary of Legal Terms P
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O Q R S T U V W
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PAPERBOUND SUPPLEMENT: a temporary supplement to a book or books to update the serve.
PARALEGAL: also, legal assistant. A person with legal skills who works under the supervision of a lawyer.
PARDON: an act of grace from governing power which mitigates punishment and restores rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense.
PAROL EVIDENCE: oral or verbal evidence; evidence given by word of mouth in court.
PAROLE: supervised release of a prisoner from imprisonment on certain prescribed conditions which entitle him to termination of his sentence.
PARTY: a person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution of defense of a legal proceeding.
PATENT: a grant to an inventor of the right to exclude others for a limited time from make, using, or selling his invention in the United States.
PATENT AND TRADEMARK OFFICE: the federal agency which examines and issues patents and registers trademarks.
PEREMPTORY CHALLENGE: request by a party that a judge not allow a certain prospective juror as a member of the jury. No reason or cause need be stated.
PERIODICAL: a publication which appears regularly but less often than daily.
PERJURY: the criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.
PERMANENT INJUNCTION: a court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.
PER SE DOCTRINE: under this doctrine an activity such as price fixing can be declared as a violation of the antitrust laws without necessity of a court inquiring into the reasonableness of the activity.
PERSONAL PROPERTY: anything a person owns other than real estate.
PERSONAL RECOGNIZANCE: in criminal proceedings, the pretrial release of a defendant without bail upon his or her promise to return to court.
PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE: the person who administers an estate. If named in a will, that person's title is an executor. If there is no valid will, that person's title is an administrator.
PERSON IN NEED OF SUPERVISION: juvenile found to have committed a "status offense" rather than a crime that would provide a basis for a finding of delinquency.
PETITIONER: the person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court.
PLAINTIFF: a person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action.
PLEA: the first pleading by a criminal defendant, the defendant's declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant's answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.
PLEA BARGAINING: process where the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a satisfactory disposition of the case, usually by the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Such bargains are not binding in the court. Also referred to as plea negotiating.
PLEADINGS: the written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.
POCKET PARTS: supplements to law books in pamphlet form which are inserted in a pocket inside the back cover of the books to keep them current.
POLLING THE JURY: the act, after a jury verdict has been announced, of asking jurors individually whether they agree with the verdict.
POST-TRIAL: refers to items happening after the trial, i.e., post-trial motions or post-trial discovery.
POUR-OVER WILL: a will that leaves some or all estate assets to a trust established before the will-maker's death.
POWER: authority to do. One has the power to do something if he is of legal age. Also, used as "powers" the term refers to authority granted by one person to another, i.e., powers given an executor in a will or an agent in a power of attorney.
POWER OF ATTORNEY: a formal instrument authorizing another to act as one's agent or attorney.
PRECEDENT: laws established by previous cases which must be followed in cases involving identical circumstances.
PREINJUNCTION: court order requiring action or forbidding action until a decision can be made whether to issue a permanent injunction. It differs from a temporary restraining order.
PRELIMINARY HEARING: also, preliminary examination. A hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial.
PREPONDERANCE OF THE PROOF: greater weight of the evidence, the common standard of evidence in civil cases.
PRESENTENCE REPORT: a report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making his or her sentencing decision.
PRESENTMENT: declaration or document issued by a grand jury that either makes a neutral report or notes misdeeds by officials charged with specified public duties. It ordinarily does not include a formal charge of crime. A presentment differs from an indictment.
PRETERMITTED CHILD: a child born after a will is executed, who is not provided for by the will. Most states have laws that provide for a share of estate property to go to such children.
PRETRIAL CONFERENCE: conference among the opposing attorneys and the judge called at the discretion of the court to narrow the issues to be tried and to make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.
PRIMA FACIE CASE: a case that is sufficient and has the minimum amount of evidence necessary to allow it to continue in the judicial process.
PRIMARY AUTHORITY: constitutions, codes, statutes, ordinances, and case law sources.
PRIVATE LAW: that law, such as a contract between two persons or a real estate transaction, which applies only to the persons who subject themselves to it.
PRIVILEGE: a benefit or advantage to certain persons beyond the advantages of other persons, i.e., an exemption, immunity, power, etc.
PROBABLE CAUSE: a reasonable belief that a crime has or is being committed; the basis for all lawful searches, seizures, and arrests.
PROBATE: court proceeding by which a will is proved valid or invalid. Term used to mean all proceedings pertaining to the administration of estates such as the process by which assets are gathered; applied to pay debts, taxes, and expenses of administration; and distributed to those designated as beneficiaries in the will. Conducted in state courts.
PROBATE COURT: the court with authority to supervise estate administration.
PROBATE ESTATE: estate property that may be disposed of by a will.
PROBATION: an alternative to imprisonment allowing a person found guilty of an offense to stay in the community, usually under conditions and under the supervision of a probation officer. A violation of probation can lead to its revocation and to imprisonment.
PRODUCT LIABILITY: legal responsibility of manufacturers and sellers to buyers, users, and bystanders for damages or injuries suffered because of defects in goods.
PROMISEE: an individual to whom a promise is made.
PROMISOR: an individual who makes a promise.
PROMISSORY ESTOPPEL: a promise which estops the promisee from asserting or taking action.
PROPERTY TAX: a tax levied on land and buildings (real estate) and on personal property.
PROPRIETOR: owner; person who has legal right or title to anything.
PROSECUTOR: a trial lawyer representing the government in a criminal case and the interests of the state in civil matters. In criminal cases, the prosecutor has the responsibility of deciding who and when to prosecute.
PROXIMATE CAUSE: the last negligent act which contributes to an injury. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.
PROXY: the instrument authorizing one person to represent, act, and vote for another at a shareholders' meeting of a corporation.
PUBLIC LAW: that law such as traffic ordinances or zoning ordinances which applies to the public.
PUBLIC DEFENDER: government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of a crime.
PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION: also, Public Utilities Commission. A state agency which regulates utilities.
PUNITIVE DAMAGES: money award given to punish the defendant or wrongdoer.
PURCHASE AGREEMENT OR PURCHASE OFFER: also, sales agreement and earnest money contract. Agreement between buyer and seller of property which sets forth in general the price and terms of a proposed sale.
PUTATIVE: alleged; supposed; reputed.