chapter  I
Glossary of Legal Terms
Pages 4

ACTION IN REM A legal proceeding against property rather than against the owner of the property. Typical actions in rem are condemnation and forfeiture. APPELLANT The party who appeals from a lower court’s decision to a higher court. APPELLATE JURISDICTION The power vested in a superior court to review and revise the decisions of a lower court. APPELLEE The party who defends the decision of a lower court against an appeal. ATTAINT To pass an act or bill of attainder. BILL OF ATTAINDER A legislative act imposing penalties on a person not convicted in a court of law. BRIEF A memorandum of fact or law submitted to the court in support of oral arguments. CASE LAW Law based on court decisions and rulings, as distinct from statute law passed by legislatures. CERTIFICATION See writ of certifi cation. CERTIORARI See writ of certiorari. CIVIL LAW The body of law governing the private rights of individuals. The law of contracts, torts, and copyright are examples. CLASS ACTION A legal proceeding on behalf of all members of a group having an interest in the outcome. COMITY Cooperation between sovereigns. Typical examples are the enforcement of court decisions and the extradition of fugitives. COMMON LAW The general body of Anglo-American law, except as modifi ed by statute. Often synonymous with case law. CONCURRING OPINION The opinion of a judge who agrees with the decision but not with the reasoning of the majority. CORRUPTION OF BLOOD A feudal law doctrine that treason so corrupts a traitor’s blood that his property cannot pass to his heirs but escheats to the Crown. CRIMINAL LAW The body of public law prescribing penalties for prohibited offenses. DE FACTO In fact, actually, but without a legal basis. DE JURE By law or by right; having a legal basis DICTA See obiter dictum. DISSENTING OPINION The opinion of a judge who disagrees with the decision of the majority. DOUBLE JEOPARDY Prosecuting the accused a second time for the same offense. EMINENT DOMAIN The power of the government, state or federal, to seize private property without the consent of the owner.