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Damages

Money awarded by a court to a person injured by the unlawful actor negligence of another person.

Debtor

One who owes a debt to another; a person filing for relief under the Bankruptcy Code.

Decision

The opinion of the court in concluding a case at law.

Declaratory judgment

A statutory remedy for judicial determination of a controversy where plaintiff is in doubt about his legal rights.

Decree

An order of the court. A final decree is one that fully and finally disposes of the litigation. (See interlocutory.)

Defamation

That which tends to injure a person’s reputation. (See libel and slander.)

Default

Failure of the defendant to appear and answer the summons and complaint.

Default judgment

A judgment entered against a party who fails to appear in court or respond to the charges.

Defendant

The person defending or denying a suit.

Defense of property

Affirmative defense in criminal law or tort law where force was used to protect one’s property.

Deficient

Incomplete; defective; not sufficient in quantity or force.

Demurrer

A pleading filed by the defendant that the complaint as filed is not sufficient to require an answer.

Dependent

One who derives existence and support from another.

Deposition

Testimony of a witness or a party taken under oath outside the courtroom, the transcript of which becomes a part of the court’s file.

Direct evidence

Proof of facts by witnesses who saw acts done or heard words spoken.

Direct examination

The first questioning of witnesses by the party on whose behalf they are called.

Directed verdict

In a case in which the plaintiff has failed to present on the facts of his case proper evidence for jury consideration, the trial judge may order the entry of a verdict without allowing the jury to consider it.

Disclaim

To refuse a gift made in a will.

Discovery

The name given pretrial devices for obtaining facts and information about the case.

Dismissal

The termination of a lawsuit. (See with prejudice and without prejudice.)

Dissent To disagree

An appellate court opinion setting forth the minority view and outlining the disagreement of one or more judges with the decision of the majority.

Dissolution

The termination; process of dissolving or winding up something.

Diversion

The process of removing some minor criminal, traffic, or juvenile cases from the full judicial process, on the condition that the accused undergo some sort of rehabilitation or make restitution for damages.

Docket

An abstract or listing of all pleadings filed in a case; the book containing such entries; trial docket is a list of or calendar of cases to be tried in a certain term.

Docket control

A system for keeping track of deadlines and court dates for both litigation and non-litigation matters.

Domicile

The place where a person has his permanent home to which he intends to return.

Double jeopardy

Putting a person on trial more than once for the same crime. It is forbidden by the Fifth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Due process of law

The right of all persons to receive the guarantees and safeguards of the law and the judicial process. It includes such constitutional requirements as adequate notice, assistance of counsel, and the rights to remain silent, to a speedy and public trial, to an impartial jury, and to confront and secure witnesses.