Legal Term Glossary

General Legal Terms

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Term Definition

To find a criminal defendant not guilty.


A dispute taken to court to be settled. Same as case, suit and lawsuit when used in the courtroom context.

Synonyms: case, suit, lawsuit

To decide or settle


Evidence that is properly introduced in a trial.

Adversary System

Method used in the courts of the United States to settle legal disputes. Both individuals in the case tell their story to the judge and/or jury for resolution.


A statement or declaration of facts that has been written down and confirmed by the originator under oath.


To uphold a decision made by a lower court.

Alternative Dispute Resolution

The process of settling a legal dispute without a formal trial.

Synonyms: ADR

Written response in a civil case. In it, the defendant admits or denies the allegations of the complaint made by the plaintiff and states any defenses that apply.


An agreement made before marriage that indicates how property will be divided should the couple divorce or a person die.

Synonyms: Premarital Agreement

Legal process used to ask a higher court to review a decision of a lower court.


The person/party appealing the judgment or decision of a court.

Appellate Court

A court having jurisdiction (authority) to hear appeals.


The person against whom the appeal is taken.


Arbitration is a dispute resolution system.  In arbitration the disputing individuals each present their side of an issue to an arbitrator who will act like a judge and decide the matter. There are two types of arbitration: binding voluntary arbitration and mandatory non-binding arbitration.

Binding Voluntary Arbitration is a process where the disputing individuals agree to settle their matter privately outside of the public court system using an arbitrator, a professional decision maker that is chosen by one or both of the disputing parties, to decide the dispute. Arbitration does not require the use of court rules or procedures and is viewed as a simplified private court proceeding. Each side will present their case to the arbitrator who will then decide the issue. Once the matter is decided the case is over and in most cases the court will enforce the arbitrators decision.

Mandatory Non-binding Arbitration is a process used by the court system where individuals who meet certain qualifications will have their case decided by a court appointed arbitrator instead of a judge. Decisions made in this type of arbitration are non-binding meaning that either individual may ask for a new trial in trial court.

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This website has been prepared for general information purposes only. The information on this website is not legal advice. Legal advice is dependent upon the specific circumstances of each situation. Also, the law may vary from state-to-state or county-to-county, so that some information in this website may not be correct for your situation. Finally, the information contained on this website is not guaranteed to be up to date. Therefore, the information contained in this website cannot replace the advice of competent legal counsel licensed in your jurisdiction.