Letter D: Glossary of Legal Terms
Money that a defendant pays a plaintiff in a civil case if the plaintiff has won. Damages may be compensatory (for loss or injury) or punitive (to punish and deter future misconduct).
Latin, meaning “in fact” or “actually.” Something that exists in fact but not as a matter of law.
Latin, meaning “in law.” Something that exists by operation of law.
Latin, meaning “anew.” A trial de novo is a completely new trial. Appellate review de novo implies no deference to the trial judge’s ruling.
A person who has filed a petition for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.
A debtor’s detailed description of how the debtor proposes to pay creditors’ claims over a fixed period of time.
A judge’s statement about someone’s rights. For example, a plaintiff may seek a declaratory judgment that a particular statute, as written, violates some constitutional right.
A judgment awarding a plaintiff the relief sought in the complaint because the defendant has failed to appear in court or otherwise respond to the complaint.
An individual (or business) against whom a lawsuit is filed.
In a civil case, the person or organization against whom the plaintiff brings suit; in a criminal case, the person accused of the crime.
An oral statement made before an officer authorized by law to administer oaths. Such statements are often taken to examine potential witnesses, to obtain discovery, or to be used later in trial. See discovery.
A release of a debtor from personal liability for certain dischargeable debts. Notable exceptions to dischargeability are taxes and student loans. A discharge releases a debtor from personal liability for certain debts known as dischargeable debts and prevents the creditors owed those debts from taking any action against the debtor or the debtor’s property to collect the debts. The discharge also prohibits creditors from communicating with the debtor regarding the debt, including through telephone calls, letters, and personal contact.
A debt for which the Bankruptcy Code allows the debtor’s personal liability to be eliminated.
A written document prepared by the chapter 11 debtor or other plan proponent that is designed to provide “adequate information” to creditors to enable them to evaluate the chapter 11 plan of reorganization.
Procedures used to obtain disclosure of evidence before trial.
Dismissal with prejudice
Court action that prevents an identical lawsuit from being filed later.
Dismissal without prejudice
Court action that allows the later filing.
Income not reasonably necessary for the maintenance or support of the debtor or dependents. If the debtor operates a business, disposable income is defined as those amounts over and above what is necessary for the payment of ordinary operating expenses.
A log containing the complete history of each case in the form of brief chronological entries summarizing the court proceedings.
In criminal law, the constitutional guarantee that a defendant will receive a fair and impartial trial. In civil law, the legal rights of someone who confronts an adverse action threatening liberty or property.
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