Acquittal -- A verdict in a criminal trial in which the defendant is found not guilty of the charge.
Alternatively, when a criminal defendant is found "not guilty" of the crime. An acquittal is not a declaration of the accused's "innocence"; it is a verdict that a Prosecutor failed to prove the accused's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
Adjournment -- postponing or rescheduling a case or court session until another date or time.
Adversary Proceeding -- actions contested by opposing parties.
Affidavit -- a written statement of fact that is verified by oath or affirmation before a notary public or officer having authority to administer oaths. (Affidavits are not admissible in criminal trials or hearings in lieu of testimony, because the opposing party has no opportunity to cross-examine the affiant.)
Alibi -- a "lack of presence" defense. The defendant need not prove that he was elsewhere when the crime happened; he need only notify the Prosecutor of his intent to claim an alibi (along with his list of alibi witnesses). Ultimately, the Prosecutor must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was present (i.e., a Prosecutor must disprove a claimed alibi).
Appeal -- A legal action in which a litigant asks a higher court to review and reverse a lower court's decision. A request to a supervisory court, usually composed of a panel of judges, to overturn the legal ruling of a lower court. To make such a request is "to appeal" or "to take an appeal." One who appeals is called the Appellant; the opposing party is the Appellee.
Appellant -- The litigant who brings the appeal.
Arraignment -- a criminal defendant's first appearance before a judge. The primary purpose is to inform the defendant of what charge he is facing. The judge will also determine an appropriate bail, and may decide on a request for court-appointed counsel.
Assault -- Assault Defined by the Utah Criminal Code
(1) Assault is:
(a) an attempt, with unlawful force or violence, to do bodily injury to another;
(b) a threat, accompanied by a show of immediate force or violence, to do bodily injury to another; or
(c) an act, committed with unlawful force or violence, that causes or creates a substantial risk of bodily injury to another.
(2) Assault is a class B misdemeanor.
(3) Assault is a class A misdemeanor if:
(a) the person causes substantial bodily injury to another; or
(b) the victim is pregnant and the person has knowledge of the pregnancy.
(4) It is not a defense against assault, that the accused caused serious bodily injury to another. Utah Code Annotated § 76-5-102 (2001).
Associate Justice -- A justice of the Supreme Court, excluding the Chief Justice.
Bail --A thing of value -- for example, money or the deed to a house -- given to the court to ensure a defendant's appearance in court. If the defendant appears at all court proceedings as required, the bail is returned at the end of the case. If the defendant fails to appear as required, the bail may be kept by the court. It could also be described as Bond money paid to a court, by or on behalf of a criminal defendant, as security that, when released from jail, the defendant will appear at all future hearings. If another person posts the bail money, then that third party vouches that the defendant will appear at future court dates. Bail can be forfeited if the defendant fails to appear or violates release conditions.
Battery -- An intentional, unwanted and forceful/violent touching of another person, or something closely connected with that person.
Bench --The place where the judge sits. It also is another word for the court itself.
Bench trial --A trial heard and decided by a judge instead of a jury.
Bind-Over -- a finding at a preliminary examination that sufficient evidence exists to require a trial at the District Court level on the charges made against the defendant.
Bond -- a debt intended to insure the defendant's future appearances in court. The amount of the bond is set by a judge or magistrate. Factors influencing the amount set include the seriousness of the charge, the defendant's criminal history, and the defendant's ties to the community. There are four types of bonds:
Personal recognizance bonds (a.k.a. "PR" bonds, or "signature bonds") do not require the defendant or a third party to pay money to the court, unless the defendant later fails to appear.
Percent bonds require the defendant to post a percentage of the full bond (generally as low as 10%) to get out of jail, and the remaining percentage is due only if the defendant later fails to appear.
Cash bonds require the full amount of the bond to be paid in cash before the defendant can be released. If the defendant appears at all future court dates, most of the monies are returned to the person posting the bond. Surety bonds are posted by a professional bondsman after being paid a non-refundable percentage of the full amount by the defendant. See Bail.
Breaking -- as in "breaking & entering" ... using some force to enter a building (opening a door, raising a window, taking screen off, etc.); damage need not result.
Brief -- a written statement submitted by the lawyer for each side in a case that explains to judges why they should decide the case or a particular part of a case in favor of that lawyer's client.
Burden of proof --The duty of a litigant to prove or disprove an allegation in court. Specifically, the duty to establish by evidence a requisite degree of belief concerning a fact in the mind of a trier of fact. The duty to establish facts in an adversary proceeding.
Different burdens of proof exist in the law:
Prima facie evidence: evidence which is good and sufficient "on its face" to establish a given fact when un-rebutted or not contradicted.
Preponderance of the evidence: the burden of proof in civil cases. Evidence which, as a whole, shows that the fact sought to be proved is more probable than not. Evidence which is more credible and convincing to the mind. It is generally visualized as that side of the dispute toward which the scales tip when the credible evidence is weighed by the trier of fact. Something more than 50% of the credible evidence.
Clear and convincing evidence: the burden of proof in selected proceedings, such as termination of parental rights. A measure of proof which produces a firm belief as to the allegations. It is difficult to quantify, but is more than a "preponderance" and less than "beyond a reasonable doubt".
Beyond a reasonable doubt: the degree of belief a criminal juror (or the judge in a bench trial) must have regarding all factual elements of a charged crime. No doubt, based on reason and common sense, can exist as to any fact needed to be proved.
Capitol Offense -- a crime punishable by death. (Utah does have a death penalty.)
Case law --The body of law created by judges' written opinions.
Challenges -- (Jury Selection) A method for striking a prospective juror. The Utah Court Rules allow that a challenge to an individual juror may be either peremptory or for cause. A challenge to an individual juror may be made only before the jury is sworn to try the action, except the court may, for good cause, permit it to be made after the juror is sworn but before any of the evidence is presented. In challenges for cause the rules relating to challenges to a panel and hearings thereon shall apply. All challenges for cause shall be taken first by the prosecution and then by the defense.
Chambers -- A judge's office.
Child Abuse -- According to Utah Code Annotated § 62A-4a-402(3)(2001),"Child abuse or neglect" means causing harm or threatened harm to a child's health or welfare.
Chief Justice -- The presiding Justice of the Supreme Court or the Highest Court (State or Federal).
Circumstantial Evidence -- indirect evidence that implies something occurred but does not directly prove it. For example, circumstantial evidence of embezzlement includes proof that the defendant-employee made several big-ticket purchases in cash around the time of the alleged embezzlement.(See also direct evidence.)
Civil Case -- A case between private litigants concerning personal wrongs, generally where the losing party must compensate the prevailing party with money or other property. Examples of civil cases include divorces, personal injury, landlord-tenant, small claims and contract or property disputes. A civil plaintiff may be also be asking the court to tell the defendant to stop some behavior or to do a specific thing. Both the plaintiff and the defendant may be represented by an attorney, unless the case is filed as a small claims case.
Common Law -- A body of legal principles which derives its authority solely from usages and customs of ancient times, or from the judgments and decrees of courts recognizing, affirming, and enforcing such usages and customs; particularly the ancient unwritten law of England. Common law is to be distinguished from "statutory law", which is enacted by a legislative body such as Congress or a state legislature.
Complaint -- The initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court's jurisdiction, the basis for the plaintiff's claim and the demand for relief. In Criminal Law it is the initial charging document for bringing a formal charge accusing a person of a crime.
Concurrent Sentence -- Upon conviction for multiple crimes, a criminal sentence served at the same time as another criminal sentence, rather than one after the other. (See also consecutive sentence.)
Consecutive Sentence -- Upon conviction for multiple crimes, criminal sentences that must be served one after the other, rather than at the same time. (See also concurrent sentence.)
Conspiracy -- An agreement by two or more persons to commit an illegal act. In criminal law it can be a separate offense from the crime itself.
Conviction --A verdict in a civil or criminal trial in which the defendant is found guilty of the charge.
Court -- A government entity authorized to resolve legal disputes. Judges sometimes use "court" to refer to themselves in the third person, as in "the court has read the briefs." Courts and judges are part of the Judicial Branch of government.
Court Appointed Attorney -- Legal counsel assigned by the court to represent an indigent criminal defendant. A court-appointed attorney is not necessarily a "free" attorney; the court can order that some or all of the attorney's bill be reimbursed. If jail time will not be imposed on a misdemeanor, the judge need not appoint an attorney. (See also Guardian ad Litem)
Court of Appeals -- The Utah Court of Appeals, created in 1987, consists of seven judges who serve six-year renewable terms. A presiding judge is elected by majority vote to serve for two years. Learn more about the current members of the Utah Court of Appeals in the Gallery of Judges.
The jurisdiction of the Court of Appeals is complementary to that of the Supreme Court. The Court of Appeals hears all appeals from the Juvenile and District Courts, except those from the small claims department of a District Court. It also determines appeals from District Court involving domestic relations cases, including divorce, annulment, property division, child custody, support, visitation, adoption and paternity, and criminal matters of less than a first degree or capital felony. The Court also reviews appeals of administrative proceedings by state agencies including the Utah Industrial Commission and the Department of Employment Security Career Service Review Board. It also has jurisdiction to hear cases transferred to it by the Supreme Court. Court of Appeals sessions usually are conducted in Salt Lake City, but the Court travels several times per year, holding court in different geographical regions of the state. The Court sits and renders judgment in rotating panels of three judges. It is prohibited by statute from sitting en banc (all seven members at once). The panels hear oral arguments in cases during the third and fourth week of the month. After hearing arguments, the judges conference to discuss the issues raised in the case. One of the judges on the panel is assigned to write the opinion of the court. In addition to its oral argument panels, the court designates three judges to sit on the law and motion panel. This panel determines procedural and substantive motions and hears cases on one day per month.
Court Reporter/Recorder -- A person who makes a word-for-word record (either through stenography/shorthand or audio/video recording) of what is said in court or a deposition, and can produce a transcript of the proceedings upon request. All official court reporters of the trial courts of record are career service professional employees of the judicial branch of state government subject to the human resource policies and procedures adopted by the Judicial Council.
In Utah Qualifications for Official court reporters are to:
(A) be licensed in the State of Utah as certified shorthand reporters by the Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing of the Department of Commerce;
(B) comply with the continuing education program established by the Administrative Office of the Courts under subsection (9); and
(C) obtain prior to January 1, 1998 or prior to their hire, whichever comes later, proficiency in the skills of computer aided transcription and computer integrated courtroom technology; and
(D) successfully complete testing for certified real-time reporter (CRR) as a requirement for career ladder advancement.
(3) Duties. All official court reporters shall comply with applicable statutes, court rules, human resource policies and procedures, and this Code.
(A) Maintain the record.
(i) The reporter assigned to a session of the court shall take verbatim stenographic notes of the session, unless the judge dispenses with the verbatim record.
(ii) The reporter shall file with the clerk forthwith the original stenographic notes of the court session and the computer disk on which the notes are stored. If not already on file with the clerk of the court, the reporter shall file a computer disk containing the reporter's most current dictionary showing the meaning of the reporter's stenographic notes.
(B) Transcribe proceedings.
(i) Pursuant to Utah R. App. P. 11 and 12, upon receipt of a signed notice of transcript order, official court reporters shall furnish the requesting party a transcript of the court sessions as requested.
(Ii) Official court reporters shall transcribe into typewritten form the audio and video tape recordings of court proceedings when assigned to do so by the court executive.
(iii) Official court reporters shall complete and file transcripts with the clerk of the court in conformance with the time standards established by the rules of the appellate courts unless an extension of time is granted in accordance with the rules.
(iv) Official court reporters shall provide information to the court executive concerning the reporter's activities, including time in court sessions taking the record, number and length of transcripts pending, compliance with time standards for preparation of transcripts and requests for extension of time for preparation of transcripts.
(C) Attendance at court. Official court reporters shall report for duty as scheduled, attend sessions of court as assigned, and notify the court executive as promptly as possible of any illness or other reason preventing the performance of duties.
(4) Appointment. The court executive with input from the managing court reporter shall recruit and select qualified official court reporters in accordance with the human resource policies and procedures adopted by the Judicial Council.
(5) Supervision and discipline.
(A) The in-court supervision of individual official court reporters is the responsibility of the judge to whom the reporter is assigned.
(B) Pursuant to this Code and under the direction of the presiding judge, the court executive shall supervise and discipline official court reporters in accordance with the human resource policies and procedures adopted by the Judicial Council.
(C) An official court reporter shall be subject to disciplinary action by the court executive with input from the managing court reporter for failure to file an appellate transcript timely. Such discipline may include, but shall not be limited to, reprimand, censure, suspension without pay, reduction of salary, or removal from office.
Criminal Case -- A charge filed by a prosecutor against a defendant concerning violation of a criminal law. The act of violating a criminal law is an offense against the community, not a private wrong. Examples of criminal cases include theft and murder.
Damages --Money awarded to a plaintiff in a civil case. Damages are assessed against the defendant who is found by the jury or judge to have been responsible for the plaintiff's injuries. See Injury.
Defendant -- A person sued in a civil proceeding or charged with a crime in a criminal proceeding.
Defense Attorney -- The lawyer who represents the defendant in any legal proceeding.
Deposition -- A witness' or a party's out of court testimony recorded by a court reporter for later use in court or for discovery purposes.
Direct Evidence -- Evidence that stands on its own to prove an alleged fact, such as testimony by a teller that she saw the defendant pointing a gun at her and heard him demand money during a bank robbery. (See also circumstantial evidence.)
Direct Testimony -- The questioning of a witness by the party who first called the witness to the stand.
Double Jeopardy -- It refers to a person being tried twice for the same offense. Double Jeopardy is prohibited by the Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
Docket -- A list of cases on a court's calendar, or schedule.
En Banc -- "In the bench" or "full bench." Refers to appellate court sessions with the entire membership of a court participating rather than the usual quorum. (pronounced "on bonk").
The Tenth Circuit Provides for En Banc hearings as follows:
Petitions For Rehearing - En Banc Procedure
Time for Filing. A party may file a petition for rehearing within 14 days
after entry of the judgment. The time is enlarged to 45 days in civil cases in which
the United States or an agency or officer of the United States is a party. These time
periods may be shortened by the court but may not be extended except for good cause
Form and Disposition. A petition for rehearing must be concise and
must clearly identify the points of law or fact the petitioner believes the court has
overlooked or misconstrued. An original and three copies of the petition must be
filed; the petition is limited to fifteen pages. Fed. R. App. P. 40(b). If the petition
does not request en banc consideration, it is circulated only to the panel of judges
that decided the appeal, who then vote on the petition. A majority, of course, rules.
There is no oral argument in conjunction with a petition for rehearing unless ordered
by the court. No answer to a petition for rehearing is permitted unless requested by
the court. If the court desires a response by a nonpetitioning party, the clerk will so
advise counsel by order. In the relatively rare instance in which a petition for
rehearing is granted, the court in its discretion may either call for argument or make
a final disposition without argument.
Petitions for rehearing should never assume an adversarial posture with the
panel. Challenging the position of an opponent in an argumentative way is an
effective adversarial tool, but it may become counterproductive when applied to the
panel opinion. Even though the court has ruled against a particular party, the panel
has not become an adversary or an opponent, and counsel should not treat it as such
in the petition for rehearing.
Frivolous Petitions - Sanctions. Although petitions for rehearing are
filed in a great many cases, they rarely are granted. Rehearing will be granted only
if a significant issue has been overlooked or misconstrued by the court. If the court
finds that a petition for rehearing is wholly without merit or filed for delay, the court
may tax a sum of up to $500.00, and may require counsel personally to pay the
amount taxed to the opposing party. 10th Cir. R. 40.1(B).
Petitions for Rehearing not Prerequisite to Certiorari. The filing of a
petition for rehearing is not a prerequisite to filing a petition for a writ of certiorari
in the United States Supreme Court. The time for seeking certiorari in the Supreme
Court, however, is tolled until the disposition of a timely filed petition for rehearing
in the court of appeals.
En banc Procedure
Petitions for Rehearing En Banc. A petition for rehearing may request
consideration by the whole court sitting en banc. En banc consideration is often
requested but seldom granted. Ordinarily the court will grant en banc review only
when necessary to secure or maintain uniformity of the circuit's decisions, to comply
with a US Supreme Court ruling in conflict, or to consider an issue of exceptional
importance. 10th Cir. R. 35.1.
Filing Requirements. Petitions for initial hearing en banc or rehearing
en banc should be in the same form and are subject to the same page and other
limitations as a petition for rehearing by a panel, with the following additional
The reference to the en banc request must appear on the cover page and
in the title of the petition. 10th Cir. R. 35.2(
The petition must begin with a statement that either:
the panel decision conflicts with a decision of the United States
Supreme Court or of the court to which the petition is addressed
(with citation to the conflicting case or cases) and consideration
by the full court is therefore necessary to secure and maintain
uniformity of the court's decisions; or
the proceeding involves one or more questions of exceptional
importance, each of which must be concisely stated; for example,
a petition may assert that a proceeding presents a question of
exceptional importance if it involves an issue on which the panel
decision conflicts with the authoritative decisions of other United
States Courts of Appeals that have addressed the issue.
Fed. R. App. P. 35(b)(1).
An original and 14 copies must be filed (as compared to an original and
three copies for ordinary rehearing petitions). 10th Cir. R. 35.4.
Defective Petitions. Any petition for hearing or rehearing en banc that
fails to comply with Fed. R. App. P. 35(b)(1) and 10th Cir. R. 35.2(A) will not be
circulated to the court en banc. If the deficiency is not corrected promptly, the
pleading will be stricken. If the noncomplying petition for rehearing en banc is
included in an otherwise proper petition for rehearing, the petition will be submitted
for disposition only to the original panel unless the petition's deficiency is corrected
within 7 days after notification by the clerk of the noncompliance. Untimely
suggestions for en banc rehearing will be transmitted to the full court only on
express order of the hearing panel. The court may order a case heard or reheard en
banc on its own motion.
Matters Not Subject to En Banc Consideration. Certain procedural and
interim matters, such as stay orders, injunctions pending appeal, appointment of
counsel, leave to appeal in forma pauperis, leave to appeal a nonfinal order, and
leave for an abusive litigant to appeal are not matters subject to en banc
consideration. The court will not entertain en banc suggestions with respect to these
matters. 10th Cir. R. 35.7. Requests for reconsideration of panel determinations
of such matters will be treated as petitions for rehearing to the judges or panel
entering the order from which the request for reconsideration arises.
The court will not entertain a petition for reconsideration of the denial of an
en banc suggestion or an en banc disposition. In capital cases, the court will often
consider granting a stay of imposition of the sentence en banc. An en banc order
denying a stay forecloses a successive en banc petition. Review of an en banc order
must be by the Supreme Court.
Processing an Application. Nondefective petitions for en banc
consideration or reconsideration are distributed to each active judge on the court,
plus any senior circuit judge, district judge, or visiting judge who sat on the original
panel. Only active circuit judges have a vote on the en banc request, although a
senior Tenth Circuit judge who was on the original panel decision may elect to sit
on the case if an en banc rehearing is granted. En banc hearing or rehearing will
occur only if a majority of all of the active circuit judges, except any recused in the
case, vote to that effect.
If Rehearing En Banc Granted. In the exceptional instance when
rehearing en banc is granted, the initial panel's judgment is vacated, the mandate
is stayed, and the case is restored to the docket as a pending appeal, unless the court
specifically orders otherwise. However, the entire panel opinion is not necessarily
vacated. The rehearing may be limited to particular issues, or the en banc court may
affirm, without a new opinion, parts of the panel decision already entered. If the
court should be equally divided on en banc rehearing, the judgment of the district
court (not the judgment of the initial panel) will be affirmed.
Evidence -- The information used in court to prove or disprove an allegation. Information presented in testimony or documents that is used to persuade the fact finder (judge or jury) to decide the case for one side or the other. (See also direct evidence and circumstantial evidence.)
Ex Parte -- Latin that means "by or for one party." Refers to situations in which only one party (and not the adversary) appears before a judge. Such meetings are often forbidden.
Ex Parte Order -- An order entered without giving the party affected by the order an opportunity to be heard in court before the order is issued. An emergency order used when one party could be irreparably harmed by waiting for a hearing date. The orders are generally short-term, and hearings are scheduled soon after the order is entered to give the other party a chance to be heard.
Grand Jury -- Twenty-three people empaneled to hear evidence presented by a prosecutor to determine if there is enough evidence to bring a person to trial for a crime. Utah State Court Rules allow for the convening of a Grand Jury, See Rule 6-304 Grand Jury Panel.
Guardian ad Litem -- A person appointed by the court to protect the legal interests of an infant or an incompetent adult, or a missing person who is involved in a court case. The court will appoint a guardian ad litem in cases of juvenile abuse or neglect. The Guardian ad Litem may be an attorney. In Utah a Guardian ad Litem is a lawyer appointed by the court to look after the interests of an infant, child or incompetent during court proceedings. The Guardian ad Litem may represent children in custody actions where there are allegations of abuse or neglect, or in protective order proceedings. The Guardian ad Litem also represents children who are in foster care. Since legal representation for these children is only one aspect of assuring their well-being, the Guardian ad Litem must work closely with foster parents, therapists, caseworkers, teachers, pediatricians and other medical professionals to determine what action is in the best interest of a child.
Habeas Corpus -- A writ (order) to bring a person before a court. In its most common usage, the writ directs a warden or jailer to bring a prisoner or person detained so that the court may determine whether such person is lawfully confined. It may also be used to bring a person in custody before the court to give testimony, or to be prosecuted.
Hearsay -- A statement made outside of court (i.e., not from the witness stand at the present proceeding) that is offered into evidence to prove that the content of the statement was true, not merely that the statement was made. Dozens of long-established exceptions exist to the general rule that hearsay statements are inadmissible in court; the exceptions are based on circumstances where the out-of-court statements carry a likelihood of trustworthiness (e.g., deathbed statements, self-incriminating statements, statements made to doctors about medical conditions, etc.).
Hearing -- A court proceeding in which evidence is presented to determine facts that are in dispute.
Hung jury -- A jury that is deadlocked and cannot agree on a verdict.
Impeachment -- The process of calling something into question, as in "impeaching the testimony of a witness." Impeachment generally challenges a witness' credibility with evidence of bias, prior inconsistent statements, etc.
Indictment -- A formal, written accusation issued by a grand jury charging someone with a crime after considering evidence presented by a prosecutor. An indictment is not proof of a crime.
Information -- "Information" means an accusation, in writing, charging a person with a public offense which is presented, signed, and filed in the office of the clerk of the Court. See, Utah Code Annotated § 77-1-3 (2001).
Injunction -- An order of the court prohibiting (or compelling) the performance of a specific act to prevent irreparable damage or injury.
Injury -- Any legal harm, wrong or damage done to a person's body, property, rights or reputation, and that the law recognizes as deserving of redress.
Jurisdiction -- The legal authority of a court to hear and decide a case before it, which depends on the type of case and how closely connected the parties are to the county where the court is located. Also the geographic area over which the court has authority to decide cases.
Jury --Persons selected according to law and sworn to inquire into and declare a verdict on matters of fact.
See Also-Grand jury, Petit jury.
Jury charge -- The judge's address to the jury after all testimony has been heard in a trial. The charge explains the law that the jury is to apply in deciding on a verdict.
Larceny -- Stealing. The unlawful taking and carrying away of property of another with the intent to keep it from the owner. This is a specific intent crime, and cannot occur accidentally. The crime is completed when the defendant actually or constructively possesses or controls the property, moves or hides it, and specifically intends to permanently deprive the owner of it.
Lawsuit -- A civil action brought in court in which a plaintiff seeks a remedy provided by the law, such as damages.
Litigant -- Someone who is a party to litigation. The litigant can be the side bringing/prosecuting the lawsuit or the side defending/being sued.
Litigation -- A legal dispute between parties argued in a court.
Misdemeanor --A crime carrying maximum jail time of one year or less.
Mistrial -- A trial that is terminated by the judge before a verdict is returned. For example, a judge might declare a mistrial if the jury is deadlocked and cannot reach a decision.
No Contest Plea -- Also known as a nolo contendere plea ... A plea in which the facts supporting the crime's elements come from a source other than the defendant's own words in court (generally, from police investigation reports, witnesses statements, photographs, etc.). A "nolo" plea is used when the defendant cannot recall his criminal actions (sometimes due to intoxication), or his verbal plea from a traditional guilty plea would be used in a potential civil law suit. Regardless, the defendant is treated by a sentencing judge the same as if he was convicted via a guilty plea or trial verdict.
Opinion -- The written explanation of a court's decision in a matter.
Order -- A decision of a court made in writing.
Ordinance -- A legislative enactment by the governing body of a municipality or county, such as the Salt Lake City or County Commission.
Parole -- The release of a prisoner from imprisonment before the full sentence has been served. * Although not available under some sentences, parole is usually granted for good behavior on the condition that the parolee regularly report to a supervising officer for a specified period.
Perjury -- Knowingly making a material false statement while under oath to tell the truth.
Petit Jury -- A group of citizens summoned to and sworn by the court to hear evidence and render a verdict in a trial.
Plaintiff -- The party who initiates litigation.
Plea -- The defendant's response to a criminal charge (guilty, not guilty or nolo contendere).
Plea bargain -- An agreement between a criminal defendant and a prosecutor in which the defendant admits having committed a crime. In return, the prosecutor asks the judge to impose a less severe sentence than had the defendant been convicted at a trial. The judge is not bound by the terms of a plea bargain. A plea bargain ensures that a guilty defendant is punished.
Probable Cause -- Facts and circumstance sufficient to convince a person of reasonable caution that an offense has been committed; mere suspicion or belief, unsupported by facts or circumstances, is insufficient. A search warrant may be authorized, or a warrant-less arrest may be made, upon probable cause.
Probation --A discretionary sentencing option for most misdemeanor and felony convictions where the defendant avoids some/all incarceration, and is released back into the community under the supervision of a probation officer for a specific time period, with many rules to follow.
Pro Per / Pro Se -- A person who represents himself/herself in court without an attorney. The term comes from the Latin phrase in propria persona.
Prosecutor -- The lawyer who represents the government in a criminal case.
Quash -- To nullify, void or declare invalid.
Reasonable Doubt -- A fair, honest doubt based on the evidence produced at trial (or missing from the proofs). A reasonable doubt must be based on reason and common sense, not on conjecture, speculation, possibilities or imaginary scenarios.
Remand -- When an appellate court sends a case back to a lower court for further proceedings.
Restitution -- Payments ordered by the judge to repay victims for economic losses incurred as the result of the crime (property loss or injuries). Does not include compensation for pain and suffering, emotional distress or other non-economic damages that can result in compensation through a civil law suit. See Utah's Crime Victim Restitution Act, Utah Code Annotated § 77-38a-101 et seq.
Search Warrant -- A court order that a specific location may be searched for items which, if found, can be seized by the government for possible use in court as evidence.
Settlement -- An agreement between the plaintiff and defendant in a civil case to resolve the dispute without a trial.
Sentence -- The punishment a judge imposes on a person convicted of a crime.
Show Cause Hearing -- A court hearing held so a person can explain why (s)he should not be considered in violation of a specific court order.
Sidebar -- A conference between the judge and lawyers held out of earshot of the jury and spectators.
Stare Decisis -- The doctrine that once a principle of law has been determined to be applicable to certain facts, that principle will be followed in future cases involving substantially identical facts. This body of "case law" --- along with Common Law and statutes --- becomes the Law of the Land.
Statute of Limitations (Limitations of Action) -- Deadlines set by statute for filing criminal charges or civil lawsuits within a certain time after events occur that are the source of the charge or claim. The time limit on the right to seek relief in court.
Statutory Law -- Laws, or statutes, enacted by legislatures, such as the Utah State Legislature or the United States Congress.
Subpoena -- An official notice/writ commanding a person to appear before a court or other tribunal, subject to a penalty for failing to comply.
Subpoena Deuces Tecum -- A subpoena ordering the witness to appear and to bring specified documents or records. (Pronounced DOO-suhz TEE-kum.)
Supreme Court -- The State Supreme Court is the "court of last resort" in Utah. The court consists of five justices who serve ten-year renewable terms. The justices elect a chief justice by majority vote to serve for four years, and an associate chief justice to serve for two years. The Supreme Court has original jurisdiction to answer questions of state law certified from Federal Courts and to issue extraordinary writs. The Court has appellate jurisdiction to hear first degree and capital felony convictions from the District Court and civil judgments other than domestic cases. It also reviews formal administrative proceedings of the Public Service Commission, Tax Commission, School and Institutional Trust Lands Board of Trustees, Board of Oil, Gas, and Mining, and the State Engineer. The Supreme Court also has jurisdiction over judgments of the Court of Appeals by writ of certiorari, proceedings of the Judicial Conduct Commission, and both constitutional and election questions. The Utah Supreme Court conducts sessions regularly at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City, but the Court may sit in other locations occasionally. The Court generally sits the first and third Mondays of each month to decide procedural and substantive matters presented on a law and motion calendar. Following presentation of oral arguments by attorneys, the justices hold a conference and vote to either grant or deny the motions. Three of the five justices sit on the law and motion panel, allowing two justices to devote more time to writing opinions
The US Supreme Court has a constitutional origin. Article III, §1, of the Constitution provides that "[t]he judicial Power of the United States, shall be vested in one supreme Court, and in such inferior Courts as the Congress may from time to time ordain and establish." The Supreme Court of the United States was created in accordance with this provision and by authority of the Judiciary Act of September 24, 1789 (1 Stat. 73). It was organized on February 2, 1790. Jurisdiction of the U. S. Supreme Court is defined by Constitution (Art. III, §2): "The judicial Power shall extend to all Cases, in Law and Equity, arising under this Constitution, the Laws of the United States, and Treaties made, or which shall be made, under their Authority;" to all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public Ministers and Consuls;"to all Cases of admiralty and maritime Jurisdiction;" to Controversies to which the United States shall be a Party;"
to Controversies between two or more States;" between a State and Citizens of another State;" between Citizens of different States;" between Citizens of the same State claiming Lands under Grants of different States, and between a State, or the Citizens thereof, and foreign States, Citizens or Subjects.
"In all Cases affecting Ambassadors, other public ministers and Consuls, and those in which a State shall be Party, the supreme Court shall have original Jurisdiction. In all the other Cases before mentioned, the supreme Court shall have appellate jurisdiction, both as to Law and Fact, with such Exceptions, and under such Regulations as the Congress shall make. "Appellate jurisdiction has been conferred upon the Supreme Court by various statutes, under the authority given Congress by the Constitution. The basic statute effective at this time in conferring and controlling jurisdiction of the Supreme Court may be found in 28 U. S. C. §1251 et seq., and various special statutes. Congress has from time to time conferred upon the Supreme Court power to prescribe rules of procedure to be followed by the lower courts of the United States. See 28 U. S. C. §2071 et seq. The Supreme Court Building is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday. It is closed Saturdays, Sundays, and the federal legal holidays listed in 5 U. S. C. §6103. Unless the Court or the Chief Justice orders otherwise, the Clerk’s Office is open from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday, except on those holidays. The Library is open to members of the Bar of the Court, attorneys for the various federal departments and agencies, and Members of Congress.
The Term. The Term of the Court begins, by law, on the first Monday in October and lasts until the first Monday in October of the next year. Approximately 7,000 petitions are filed with the Court in the course of a Term. In addition, some 1,200 applications of various kinds are filed each year that can be acted upon by a single Justice.
Testimony -- Statements made by witnesses in court or evidence presented orally and under oath by witnesses during trials or other court proceedings.
Transcript -- The official record of the testimony adduced in a trial or hearing. A written, word-for-word record of what was said.
Venue -- The geographic location (e.g., city or county) where an event occurred. A "change of venue" happens when a case is moved to a court in another county or to a court having other jurisdictional powers ... generally because the case should have been filed there originally, or for the convenience of the parties/witnesses, or because a fair trial cannot be had in the original court's location.
Verdict -- The decision of the jury in a jury trial, or of the judge in a bench trial.
Voir Dire -- The process of jury selection, generally involving the judge and attorneys asking potential jurors about their experiences and beliefs. The purpose is to determine if the jurors are appropriate for sitting on the case at hand, particularly their willingness to decide the case only on the evidence presented in court. This French term (pronounced "vwa dear") means "to speak the truth".
Warrant -- A court order authorizing an arrest.
Witness -- Someone who offers evidence in court.