Lawyer Jargon: Decoding Common Law Jargon

Over hundreds of years, lawyers and judges seem to have developed a language of their own, filled with Latin terms that you can’t decipher without those ninth-grade notes you lost after final exams.This secret language gives legal professionals a certain dramatic mystique that can be intimidating, sexy, and, as every law student You know, it’s annoying to learn.

What do these words mean?

1. Objection

When the opposing lawyer asks inappropriate questions to a witness, “objection” can be used to express protest. Attorneys can also object when a witness makes a statement that is irrelevant to the issue at hand.


If the judge “affirms” an objection, he or she agrees with the objection and tells the attorney who raised the issue to drop the objection and move on.

3. Veto

When a judge overrules an objection, he is telling the witness to continue answering the question.

4. Withdraw

A less embarrassing word “I take it back!”


A rebuttal supported by evidence. For example, if prosecutors claim that a bloody candlestick was found in Professor Plum’s research, the defense might counter that the professor sold the candlestick in question to an antiques dealer the week before.

6. Preliminary evidence

Prima facie is Latin for “at first glance” or “on the surface,” and in legal terms it refers to a situation in which someone appears guilty. One of the benefits of our legal system is that even if you appear guilty, the system is supposed to look more closely and give you a chance to defend yourself.

For example, in a “prima facie” case, the jury might be presented with evidence of a handgun found at the scene of your husband’s murder, and everyone wants to indict you on that evidence—at least until the fatal bullet is fired. proved to be fired A gun from the cop who “spotted” the crime!

7. Plea bargaining

This is a deal struck by the prosecution and defense, approved by the judge, in which the defendant pleads guilty in exchange for something. For example, if you rob a liquor store and get caught, you might plead guilty in exchange for something. The sentences are short, saving everyone the trouble of going to trial, and the defendant can also hand over information about other crimes or criminals in exchange for a lighter sentence.

8.Adjourn the meeting

An adjournment means suspending or postponing the entire trial to a later date. This sometimes happens when new, surprising evidence emerges that changes the course of a trial.

9. Habeas Corpus

Habeas corpus is Latin for “you have the body,” which sounds ominous, but it’s actually one of the most basic rights of a citizen. When a writ of habeas corpus is filed with a judge, it means that someone has imprisoned another person. The party must prove the legal basis for the incarceration.

In other words, habeas corpus laws prevent police and prison officials from locking people up without trying to show they did something wrong.

10. Break between classes

An adjournment is a short break in a trial (not to be confused with an adjournment, which is a long break in a trial). Unfortunately, most courthouses do not have an adjacent playground, so attorneys tend to do what they have to do during recess to continue the trial.

This article was written by Melissa Woodson, Community Manager at @WashULaw, on behalf of CAREEREALISM Approved Partner 2tor, an edtech company that partners with Washington University in St. Louis to provide best-in-class education master of Law degreeIn her free time, she enjoys running, cooking, and trying to train her dogs.

Source link

Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Back to top button