Experienced Trial Attorney  

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Paralegal

Also, legal assistant. A person with legal skills who works under the supervision of a lawyer.

Pardon

An act of grace from governing power which mitigates punishment and restores rights and privileges forfeited on account of the offense.

Parole

Supervised release of a prisoner from imprisonment on certain prescribed conditions which entitle him to termination of his sentence.

Party

A person, business, or government agency actively involved in the prosecution of defense of a legal proceeding.

Peremptory challenge

Request by a party that a judge not allow a certain prospective juror as a member of the jury. No reason or cause need be stated. (See challenge for cause.)

Periodical

A publication which appears regularly but less often than daily.

Perjury

The criminal offense of making a false statement under oath.

Permanent injunction

A court order requiring that some action be taken, or that some party refrain from taking action. It differs from forms of temporary relief, such as a temporary restraining order or preliminary injunction.

Per se doctrine

Under this doctrine an activity such as price fixing can be declared as a violation of the antitrust laws without necessity of a court inquiring into the reasonableness of the activity.

Personal property

Anything a person owns other than real estate.

Personal recognizance

In criminal proceedings, the pretrial release of a defendant without bail upon his or her promise to return to court. (See also recognizance.)

Personal representative

The person who administers an estate. If named in a will, that person’s title is an executor. If there is no valid will, that person’s title is an administrator.

Person in need of supervision

Juvenile found to have committed a “status offense” rather than a crime that would provide a basis for a finding of delinquency. (See status offense.)

Petitioner

The person filing an action in a court of original jurisdiction. Also, the person who appeals the judgment of a lower court. (See respondent.)

Plaintiff

A person who brings an action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action. (See complainant.)

Plea

The first pleading by a criminal defendant, the defendant’s declaration in open court that he or she is guilty or not guilty. The defendant’s answer to the charges made in the indictment or information.

Plea bargaining

Process where the accused and the prosecutor in a criminal case work out a satisfactory disposition of the case, usually by the accused agreeing to plead guilty to a lesser offense. Such bargains are not binding on the court. Also referred to as plea negotiating.

Pleadings

The written statements of fact and law filed by the parties to a lawsuit.

Polling the jury

The act, after a jury verdict has been announced, of asking jurors individually whether they agree with the verdict.

Post-trial

Refers to items happening after the trial, i.e., post-trial motions or post-trial discovery.

Pour-Over will

A will that leaves some or all estate assets to a trust established before the will-maker’s death.

Power

Authority to do. One has the power to do something if he is of legal age. Also, used as “powers,” the term refers to authority granted by one person to another, i.e., powers given an executor in a will or an agent in a power of attorney.

Power of attorney

An formal instrument authorizing another to act as one’s agent or attorney.

Precedent

Laws established by previous cases which must be followed in cases involving identical circumstances. (See stare decisis in Foreign Words Glossary.)

Pre-injunction

Court order requiring action or forbidding action until a decision can be made whether to issue a permanent injunction. It differs from a temporary restraining order.

Preliminary hearing

Also, preliminary examination. A hearing by a judge to determine whether a person charged with a crime should be held for trial. (See arraignment.)

Preponderance of the proof

Greater weight of the evidence, the common standard of evidence in civil cases.

Pre-sentence report

A report to the sentencing judge containing background information about the crime and the defendant to assist the judge in making his or her sentencing decision.

Presentment

Declaration or document issued by a grand jury that either makes a neutral report or notes misdeeds by officials charged with specified public duties. It ordinarily does not include a formal charge of crime. A presentment differs from an indictment.

Pretermitted child

A child born after a will is executed, who is not provided for by the will. Most states have laws that provide for a share of estate property to go to such children.

Pretrial conference

Conference among the opposing attorneys and the judge called at the discretion of the court to narrow the issues to be tried and to make a final effort to settle the case without a trial.

Prima facie case

A case that is sufficient and has the minimum amount of evidence necessary to allow it to continue in the judicial process. (See prima facie in the Foreign Words Glossary.)

Primary authority

Constitutions, codes, statutes, ordinances, and case law sources.

Private law

That law, such as a contract bet The last negligent act which contributes to an injury. A person generally is liable only if an injury was proximately caused by his or her action or by his or her failure to act when he or she had a duty to act.

Proxy

The instrument authorizing one person to represent, act, and vote for another at a shareholders’ meeting of a corporation.

Public law

That law such as traffic ordinances or zoning ordinances which applies to the public.

Public defender

Government lawyer who provides free legal defense services to a poor person accused of a crime.

Public Service Commission

Also, Public Utilities Commission. A state agency which regulates utilities.

Punitive damages

Money award given to punish the defendant or wrongdoer.

Purchase agreement or purchase offer

Also, sales agreement and earnest money contract. Agreement between buyer and seller of property which sets forth in general the price and terms of a proposed sale.

Putative

Alleged; supposed; reputed.