Home Glossary of Terms
Home Glossary of Terms
Glossary of Terms
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Abatement of action

A suit which has been quashed and ended.

Accord

A method of discharging a claim upon agreement by the parties to give and accept something in settlement of the claim.

Acquittal

The verdict of not guilty for a defendant in a criminal case.

Actual malice

To win a defamation suit, public officials or prominent people, such as political candidates or movie stars, must prove that the offender made a false statement with actual malice. This means the statement was made with knowledge that it was false or with serious doubts about whether it was true.

Addendum

An add-on to something.  For example, on a court document, if changes need to be made or information added, a new document can be written up, signed, and filed as an addendum to the original document.

Administrator

An individual appointed by the court to manage the estate of a person who died without leaving a valid will.

Adversary system

The system of trial practice in which each of the opposing parties has full opportunity to present and establish his/her contention before the court.

Advisement

The consultation of the court.

Affidavit

A written or printed statement of facts, made voluntarily, and confirmed by the oath or affirmation of the party making it, taken before a person having authority to administer such oath or affirmation by law.

Agent

A person who has received the power to act on behalf of another, bind that other person as if he or she were themselves making the decisions.

In Probate: An attorney in fact under a durable or non-durable power of attorney, an individual authorized to make decisions for another under the "Colorado Patient Autonotomy Act".

Aggravated damages

Special and highly exceptional damages awarded by a court where the circumstances of the conduct have been particularly humiliating or malicious towards the Plaintiff/victim.

Agistor

A person who feeds and provides care for livestock.

Alimony

Also called maintenance or spousal support in a divorce or separation. Money paid by one spouse to the other in order to provide financial support after a divorce or legal separation.

Allegation

The assertion, claim, declaration, or statement of a party to an action, made in a pleading, setting out what he/she expects to prove.

Allocation of parental responsibilities

Commonly known as “custody". In divorce, legal separation, or custody actions regarding children, the Court will allocate parental rights and responsibilities for the care of the children.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR)

Methods for resolving problems without going to court

Annulment

To make void or null; abolish; cancel; invalidate a marriage. The legal term is "Declaration of Invalidity of Marriage".

Answer

The pleading in a civil suit by which the defendant admits, denies or otherwise controverts the sufficiency of the allegations of facts set forth in the plaintiff’s petition. It also contains defenses the defendant may have to the plaintiff’s allegations.

Appeal

A request by a person or organization in a lawsuit for a higher court to review a lower court decision.  The request is usually made by the person or organization who lost the lawsuit.

Appearance

When you physically appear or show up in Court.

Appellant

The person or organization who appeals a court decision usually that he/she/it has lost.

Appellee

Often the person or organization who won the lawsuit.  The person or organization who must respond or reply to the appeal.  Sometimes the respondent.

Applicant

A person who files an Application for Informal Appointment of a Personal Representative.

Application

A written request to the registrar for an order of informal probate or appointment under informal probate and appointment proceedings.

Appurtenance

Something that, although detached, stands as part of another thing. An attachment or appendage to something else. Used often in real estate context where an "appurtenance" may be, for example, a right of way over water – although physically detached, is part of the legal rights of the owner of another property

Arbitration

The referral of a dispute to an impartial third person chosen by the parties to the dispute.  The parties agree in advance to abide by the arbitrator’s decision following a hearing at which both parties have an opportunity to be heard.  Sometimes three persons sit as an arbitration panel.

Arrears

A debt that is not paid on the due date adds up and accumulates as "arrears."

Assignment

The transfer of legal rights, such as the time left on a lease, from one person to another.

Assumption of risk

A defense raised in personal injury lawsuits. Asserts that the plaintiff knew that a particular activity was dangerous and thus bears all responsibility for any injury that resulted.

Attachment

An additional or supplementary remedy that allows the plaintiff to place a lien on property belonging to the defendant to make sure there will be means of satisfying (paying) a judgment that may be entered in a civil case.

Authenticated Copy

A copy of the original which must be notarized by a Notary Public verifying that the copy is a true copy of the original.

Bad faith

Intent to deceive.  Dishonesty or fraud in a transaction, such as entering into an agreement with no intention of ever living up to its terms or knowingly misrepresenting the quality of something that is being bought or sold.

Bailiff

Court employee whose duty is to keep order in the courtroom.

Bankruptcy

A process governed by federal law to help when people cannot or will not pay their debts.

Bench warrant

An order issued by a judge for the arrest of a person.

Bigamy

A person who enters into a marriage with one person while still legally married to another

Bill of particulars

A written statement specifying the details of the demand set forth in the petition in a civil action

Binder

An outline of the basic terms of a proposed sales contract between a buyer and a seller.

Bond

Money or property given to the court to hold a hearing date or to get someone out of jail.

Breach of contract

The failure to do what one promised to do under a contract. Proving a breach of contract is a prerequisite of any suit for damages based on the contract.

Breach of trust

Any act or omission on the part of the trustee, which is inconsistent with the terms of the trust agreement; or the law of trusts. A prime example is the redirecting of trust property from the trust to the trustee, personally.

Brief

A written statement by counsel summarizing the facts of a case, the pertinent laws, and arguments of how the law applies to the facts supporting the lawyer’s position.

Burden of proof

In civil cases, the plaintiff must prove her/his case with a "preponderance of evidence."

Buy-Sell agreement

An agreement among business partners that specifies how shares in the business are to be transferred in the case of a co-owner's death.

C.A.R.

Abbreviation for "Colorado Appellate Rules".

C.R.S.

Abbreviation for "Colorado Revised Statutes".

Capacity

A legal qualification, such as legal age, that determines one’s ability to sue or be sued, to enter into a binding contract, etc.; or the mental ability to understand the nature and effect of one’s acts.

Caption

The heading or title on legal paperwork usually including the name of the court and the court's address, the names of the people involved in the case, the case number, and the attorney for whomever is filing the paperwork.

Case law

Law based on previous verdicts and written judicial decisions.

Case management order

An order by the court that outlines the steps the parties must follow for their case to continue.

Cease and desist order

An order of an administrative agency or court prohibiting a person or business from continuing a particular course of conduct.

Certificate of Service

An area on a court form, usually at the end of the form, where you tell the court how and when you provided a copy of the court form to the other person in the case, before or directly after you gave the form to the court.

Certified Copy

A copy from the court that is guaranteed with a stamp on the paper(s) by the clerk to be a true copy of the court record.

Change of venue

When a court case is moved from one location to another, usually because of a question of fairness.

Chapter 13 bankruptcy

A type of bankruptcy in which a person keeps his assets and pays creditors according to an approved plan.

Chapter 7 bankruptcy

A type of bankruptcy in which a person's assets are liquidated (collected and sold) and the proceeds are distributed to the creditors.

Character evidence

Proof or testimony given about another person’s moral standing, general character, and reputation. 

Charging lien

Entitles a lawyer who has sued someone on a client's behalf the right to be paid from the proceeds of the lawsuit, if there are any, before the client receives those proceeds.

Charter

A city’s organic law, which means the law concerning a city issue will trump a state law governing the same issue.

Chattel

Moveable or transferable property; especially personal property.

Child and Family Investigator (CFI)

A court-appointed expert that investigates and writes a report to the Judge as to the children’s best interests in a controversial divorce or custody case.

Child support

Money paid by a parent to the person with custody of the child(ren) to help meet the financial needs of their child(ren).

Child Support Enforcement (CSE)

A government agency that assists in collecting current and past-due child support. CSE also helps in establishing new support orders and paternity.

Circumstantial evidence

Evidence that implies something occurred but does not directly prove it.

Citation

An order to appear in court at a certain place and time. Issuance of a citation is not an arrest.

Civil action

A non-criminal proceeding designed to resolve disputes between individuals and/or businesses.

Civil Union

Civil union" means a relationship established by two eligible persons that entitles them to receive the benefits and protections and be subject to the responsibilities of spouses. C.R.S. 14-15-103

Claim

To demand or assert as a right. Facts that combine to give rise to a legally enforceable right or judicial action. Demand for relief. A claim is something that one party owes another. Someone may make a legal claim for money, or property.

Claimant

A person or entity to whom the decedent of the estate has a financial or other obligation also known as a creditor.

Class action suit

A lawsuit in which one or more parties file a complaint on behalf of themselves and all other people who are "similarly situated" (suffering from the same problem).

Often used when a large number of people have comparable claims.

Clear and convincing evidence

Evidence indicating that the thing to be proved is highly probably or reasonably certain.  This requires more than a “preponderance of the evidence” but less than “beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Clerk and Recorder

The Clerk and Recorder issues and records marriage licenses, records all real estate transactions, issues liquor licenses, registers voters, manages all primary, general and county elections, and sometimes city and school district elections. The Clerk and Recorder also operates the Motor Vehicle Divisions in the State of Colorado for titling vehicles and issuing license plates.  There is a Clerk and Recorder in each county in Colorado.

Closing arguments

The final statements in a trial arguing for the evidence you presented or against the evidence the other side presented.  This is your final chance to persuade the Judge or jury. 

Co-petitioner

A person who jointly completes, signs, and files a written Petition, or a written application to the Court with the Petitioner, asking for specific action to be taken.

Coercion

Compulsion by physical force or threat of physical force; an act, such as signing a will under coercion, is not legally valid.

Cohabitation

A living arrangement in which an unwed couple live together in an intimate relationship that resembles a marriage.

Collateral

An asset that a borrower agrees to give up if he or she fails to repay a loan.

Collateral estoppel

In civil litigation, an affirmative defense to a claim that bars a party from relitigating an issue determined in an earlier action, even if the two actions significantly differ from one another.

Collusion

A secret agreement between two or more persons, who seem to have conflicting interests, to abuse the law or the legal system, deceive a court or to defraud a third party.

Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct

The rules of conduct that govern the legal profession. The rules contain general ethical guidelines and specific rules written by the American Bar Association and adopted by the Colorado Supreme Court.

Comity

A code of etiquette that governs the interactions of courts in different states, localities and foreign countries. Courts generally agree to defer scheduling a trial if the same issues are being tried in a court in another jurisdiction. In addition, courts in this country agree to recognize and enforce the valid legal contracts and court orders of other countries.

Common law marriage

A marriage that takes legal effect, without license or ceremony, when a couple live together as husband and wife, intend to be married and hold themselves out to others as a married couple.

Community property

Property purchased or received by a couple during their marriage.

Comparative negligence

Also called comparative fault. The doctrine by which acts of opposing parties are compared in fault on a percentage basis. A party who is 50 percent or more at fault cannot recover. A party who is less than 50 percent at fault may recover, but at the reduced percentage.

Compensatory damages

Money awarded to reimburse actual costs, such as medical bills and lost wages. Also awarded for things that are harder to measure, such as pain and suffering.

Complainant

In civil cases, the person who initiates a lawsuit.  In criminal cases, the chief or only witness for the prosecution may sometimes be referred to as the complainant.

Complaint

In a civil action, the document that initiates a lawsuit. The complaint outlines the alleged facts and reason for the case. In a criminal action, a complaint is the preliminary charges filed against a defendant, usually filed by the police or court.

Concurrent jurisdiction

A situation where more than one court has jurisdiction over the same subject matter. Usually the first court that takes the case obtains jurisdiction.

Confidentiality

The state of having the release of certain information restricted. It is the relationship between a lawyer and a client, guardian and ward, or between spouses, with regard to the trust that is placed in the one by the other.

Conflict of interest

A conflict of interest occurs when a person or organization has a responsibility to two or more people or organizations at the same time, but doing the best thing for one may harm the other.

Conservator

A person at least 21, resident or non-resident, who has been appointed to manage the financial affairs of another person.

Contempt of court

A process brought before the Court to enforce non-compliance the existing order by one or more of the parties.

Continuance

The postponement of a court case for another time or day.

Contract

An agreement between two or more parties creating obligations enforceable or otherwise recognizable at law.

Contributory negligence

In any action based upon the negligence of the defendant, the plaintiff's own contributory negligence may either defeat or reduce the amount of recovery.

Conviction

A finding that the defendant is guilty in a criminal case.

Copyright

A person's property right to prevent others from copying works that they have written, authored or otherwise created.

Corroborating evidence

Additional  evidence which strengthens or confirms already existing evidence.

Counterclaim

After a lawsuit is filed, a claim for relief brought by a defendant against the plaintiff, particularly a claim in opposition to or as a setoff against the plaintiff’s claim.

Court of record

Any court that makes a record of the proceedings.

Creditor

A person or entity to whom the decedent of the estate has a financial or other obligation also known as a claimant.

Cross-claim

A claim by one defendant against another defendant.

Cross-examination

Questioning of the other party’s witness.

Custodian

The person appointed to manage and dispense funds for a child without constricting court supervision and accounting requirements.

Custody

In family law cases, it is also known as allocation of parental responsibilities, and refers to decision-making and parenting time.

In criminal cases, this means the restraint of a person's freedom in any significant way.  Someone in jail is considered to be “in custody”.

Cyberstalking

The act of threatening, harassing or annoying someone throughout cyberspace, with the intent of placing the recipient in fear that the person threatening will injure that person or the person’s family or household.

Damages

The monetary compensation which may be recovered by a party for personal injury, or loss or damage to one's property or rights as a result of another party's unlawful act or negligence.

Debtor

A person who owes money, goods or services to another.

Decedent

A person who has passed away.

Decree

The final order of the Court that disposes of or ends the marriage or legal separation proceedings.

Deed

A written legal document that describes a piece of property and outlines its boundaries. The seller of a property transfers ownership by delivering the deed to the buyer in exchange for an agreed upon sum of money.

 

Default

If the defendant does NOT appear at the time of the hearing or file an answer, the Court may enter “default” or “failure to appear/answer” which entitles the plaintiff to all relief asked for in the complaint (i.e. money, possession of property, etc.).

Default judgment

When a party against whom a judgment for affirmative relief is sought has failed to plead or otherwise defend, she/he is in default and a judgment by default may be entered by the clerk of court.

Defendant

The person that is being sued or the person charged with a crime in a criminal case.

Depose

To make a deposition, to give evidence in the shape of a deposition, to make statements which are written down and sworn to; to give testimony which is reduced to writing by a duly qualified officer and sworn to by the deponent.

Deposition

The testimony of a witness, taken in writing, under oath or affirmation, in answer to questions. This is held out of court with no Judge present, but the answers often can be used as evidence in the trial.

Devisee

A person or entity designated in a Will to receive real or personal property.

Diligent efforts

Steady, persistent efforts to locate an individual to complete personal service, including contacting friends, family, business associates; completing an internet search; and attempting personal service by a Process Server, Police Department or Sheriff’s Office.

Dismissal with prejudice

A dismissal "with prejudice" bars refiling of the lawsuit or charge.

Dismissal without prejudice

The dismissal of a case while allowing the party to sue again on the same cause of action at some future time.

Dissolution

Often used in divorce cases.  Ending a marriage or civil union.

District Court

District Courts hear civil cases in any amount, as well as domestic relations, criminal, juvenile, probate, and mental health cases. District court decisions may be appealed to the Colorado Court of Appeals (in some cases directly to the Colorado Supreme Court).

Docket

The schedule of court proceedings.

Domicile

The permanent residence of a person, a place to which, even if he/she were temporary absence, they intend to return. In law, it is said that a person may have many residences but only one domicile.

Duces tecum

Latin meaning "bring with you". Used most frequently for a subpoena (as in "subpoena duces tecum") which seeks not the appearance of a person before a court but the surrender of a thing (document or some other evidence) by its holder, to the court, to serve as evidence in a trial.

Due process

A fundamental, constitutional guarantee that all legal proceedings will be fair and that one will be given notice of the proceedings and an opportunity to be heard before the government acts to take away one's life, liberty, or property.

Duress

Where a person is prevented from acting (or not acting) according to their free will, by threats or force or force of another, it is said to be “Under Duress”.

Early neutral evaluation

An early intervention in a lawsuit by a court appointed evaluator, to narrow, eliminate, and simplify issues and to assist in case planning and management. Settlement of the case may occur.

Easement

Gives one party the right to go onto another party's property. Utilities often get easements.

Emancipation

The freeing of a minor child from the control or custody of his or her parent(s) and allowing the minor to live on his or her own or under the control of others. It usually applies to adolescents who leave their parents' household by agreement or demand. Emancipation may also end the responsibility of a parent for the acts of a child, including debts, negligence, or criminal acts.

Emergency Guardian

If there is likely to be substantial harm to the Respondent's health, safety or welfare if a guardian is not appointed immediately, the court may appoint a guardian without having to give notice or go through the normal procedures. A temporary guardianship only lasts for 60 days, at which point the court will need to decide whether to make the guardianship permanent after everyone is given notice.

En banc

A session in which the entire membership of the court participates in a decision.

Encumbrance

Any claim or restriction on a property's title.

Enjoin

To order a person to perform, or to abstain and desist from performing a specified act or course of conduct.

Escrow

Money or documents, such as a deed or title, held by a third party until the conditions of an agreement are met. For instance, pending the completion of a real estate transaction, the deed to the property will be held "in escrow."

Estate

:  All property owned by a person on the date of death that is subject to probate.

Eviction

Legally removing someone from a property, like an apartment or house, because they aren't paying rent or aren't following the rules in a lease.

Evidence

The testimony, writings, material objects, or other things presented to the senses that are offered to prove the existence or nonexistence of a fact.

Ex parte

Latin that means "by or for one party." A proceeding in which only one party takes part.

Exemplified

 Copy of a court document with court seals from the out-of-state Court verifying the authenticity of the document.

Exemplified copy

A copy of a court document that has a court seal or certification from the out-of-state court verifying the authenticity of the document(s).

Exhibit

A paper document or other physical object or photograph introduced into evidence to prove or deny a claim during a trial, hearing, or deposition.

Exigent circumstances

Emergency conditions.

Expert witness

A witness with a specialized knowledge of a subject who is allowed to discuss an event in court even though he or she was not present.

Expunge

To physically erase, to white or strike out. To "expunge" something from a court record means to remove every reference to it. In juvenile delinquency records, "such records are deemed never to have existed".

Extortion

Forcing a person to give up property through the use of violence, fear or under pretense of authority.

Fact-finder

The person or persons who make(s) determinations regarding the facts that are disputed by the parties in a case.  When a trial involves a jury, the jurors are the fact-finders.  If there is no jury, then the judge or magistrate is the fact-finder.

Fact-finding

An investigation of a dispute by a neutral third party who examines the issues and facts in a case, and who may or may not recommend settlement procedures.

Family Court Facilitator

An individual who assists with domestic relations cases and conducts Initial Status Conferences.  The Family Court Facilitator can help you understand what you need to do during your case, answer questions, and give you instructions about the next steps in your case.  The Family Court Facilitator cannot give legal advice.

Family Support Registry

The central payment processing center for the State of Colorado for child support and maintenance (spousal/partner support)

Felony

A crime punishable by imprisonment or by death in a state penal institution.

Fiduciary

A person having a legal relationship of trust and confidence to another and having a duty to act primarily for the other's benefit, e.g., a guardian or trustee.

File

To deposit with the clerk of the court a written complaint or petition which is the opening step in a lawsuit and subsequent documents, including an answer, motions, petitions, orders etc.

A record of the court. A paper is said to be filed when it is delivered to the court to be kept on file as a matter of record and reference.

Foreclosure

When a borrower cannot repay a loan on a piece of property, like a house or condominium, and the lender asks the court for an order to force the sale of the property.

Foreign judgment

Any judgment, decree, or order of a court of the United States or of any other courts outside of Colorado that should be honored and given effect by Colorado courts. (Civil protection orders issued by other states are not considered foreign judgments and have their own process and rules for enforcement, found in C.R.S. § 13-14-104.)

Forgery

A false document, signature, or other imitation of an object of value used with the intention to deceive another into believing it is the real thing.

Formal

Opening an estate after prior notice to Interested Persons.

Fraud

Intentionally deceiving someone and causing that person to suffer a loss.

Fugitive

A person who runs away to avoid arrest, prosecution or imprisonment.

Fugitive

One who runs away to avoid arrest, prosecution or imprisonment.

Gag order

A judge's order prohibiting the attorneys and parties in a pending lawsuit or criminal prosecution from talking about the case to the media or the public.

Garnishee

The person or entity (often a bank or employer) that receives a court order garnishing wages or funds it owes to a debtor.

Garnishment

A court-ordered procedure for taking money or property from someone to satisfy a debt. For example, a debtor's wages might be garnished to pay child support, back taxes, or a lawsuit judgment.

Good faith

Honestly and without deception.

Grand jury

A panel of members of the public chosen from regular jury pool lists. This panel determines whether there is enough evidence to charge someone for a serious crime. Any charges issued by a grand jury are called indictments.

Green card

Also known as a permanent resident card.  A Green Card holder is an immigrant who has become a lawful permanent resident of the U.S., and who can work legally, travel abroad and return, apply for permission for his/her spouse and children to immigrate to the U.S., and become eligible for citizenship.

Gross negligence

Refers to actions or inactions where there was a failure to use even the slightest amount of care in a way that shows recklessness or willful disregard for the safety of others.

Guardian

A person who is trusted by law with the care of another person or property of another, or both, as a minor or someone legally incapable of managing his or her own affairs.

Guardian ad litem

A court-appointed representative who is to defend or protect the interest of a person under legal disability, such as a child or incompetent individual involved in a legal court proceeding.

Guardianship

The office, duty, or authority of a guardian.

Habeas corpus

Latin phrase meaning "you have the body". A Writ of Habeas Corpus is an order to bring a person before the court.

Habitual offender

Also known as a "recidivist.”  A person who is convicted and sentenced for multiple crimes over a period of time and even after serving sentences of incarceration, demonstrating a tendency toward criminal conduct.

Harassment

Used in variety of legal contexts to describe words, gestures, and actions which tend to annoy, alarm and abuse (verbally) another person.

Hearing

Any proceeding before a judge or other magistrate without a jury in which evidence and/or argument is presented to determine some issue of fact or both issues of fact and law. While technically a trial with a judge sitting without a jury fits the definition, a hearing usually refers to brief sessions involving a specific question at some time prior to the trial itself.

Hearsay

A written or spoken statement that was made outside of the court by someone other than the person testifying about that statement.

Heir

Person entitled to the property of the Decedent under statutes of Intestate Succession.

Heirs

Persons who are entitled by law to inherit the property of the deceased if there is no will specifying how the property should be divided.

Holographic will

An un-witnessed handwritten will. A few states, including Colorado, allow such documents to be admitted to probate, but most courts are very reluctant to accept them.

Homicide

The killing of one human being by the act, procurement, or omission of another. A person is guilty of criminal homicide if he purposely, knowingly, recklessly or negligently causes the death of another human being. Criminal homicide is murder, manslaughter or negligent homicide.

Hostile witness

A witness who testifies against the party who has called the person to testify. The hostile witness may be asked leading questions, as in cross-examination.

Hung jury

A divided jury that cannot agree on a unanimous verdict.

Illicit

Not permitted or allowed; unlawful.

Immaterial

Not essential or necessary, not important or pertinent; without weight; of no significance.

Immunity

Freedom from duty or penalty; exemption, as from serving in an office or performing duties that the law generally requires other citizens to perform.

Impanel

All the steps of determining and forming the jury in the trial of a particular case.

Impared mental condition

A condition of the mind, caused by mental disease or defect, which does not rise to the level of insanity but prevents the person from forming the mental state required to find him or her guilty of the crime. If he or she is found not guilty because of impaired mental condition, they may be committed to the Department of Institutions.

Impeach

To accuse or deny or contradict. To call into question the truthfulness of a witness through other evidence that shows that the witness should not be believed.

Implied consent laws

Laws adopted by all states that apply to testing for alcohol in the blood, breath or urine.  The principle underlying these laws is that any licensed driver who operates a vehicle has consented to submit to approved tests to show intoxication.

In camera

In chambers; in private.  A cause is said to be heard in camera either when the hearing is had before the judge in his/her private room or when all spectators are excluded from the courtroom.

Inadmissible

Information which, under the established rules of evidence, cannot be admitted or received by the court.

Incapacitated

When someone due to an accident, illness, etc. becomes unable to care for or make decisions for themselves.

Incapacitated person

A person who is unable to effectively receive and/or evaluate information or make or communicate decisions to such a degree that the individual lacks the ability to take care of his/her basic needs of physical health, safety or self-care.

Incarceration

Imprisonment or confinement in a jail or prison.

Incest

Any person who knowingly marries, inflicts sexual penetration, or sexual intrusion on an ancestor or descendant, including a natural child, child by adoption, or stepchild twenty-one years of age or older, a brother or sister of the whole or half blood, or an uncle, aunt, nephew or niece of whole blood.

Incompetent

When someone is unable or unqualified to do something. The term also refers to someone who lacks the legal ability to stand trial or to testify, i.e., unqualified to testify.

 

Indictment

The formal written accusation of a crime made by a grand jury and presented to a court for prosecution against the accused person; the act or process of preparing or bringing the formal written accusation.

Indigent

A person meeting certain standards of poverty and, thereby, qualifying for waiver of fees or court-appointed counsel.

Informal

Opening an estate without prior notice of Interested Persons.

Informed consent

A person’s agreement to allow something to happen or made with full knowledge of the risks involved and the alternatives.

Infraction

A violation, usually of a rule or local ordinance and usually not punishable by jail time.

Infringement

An act that interferes with one of the exclusive rights of a patent, copyright or trademark owner.

Initial Status Conference

A date for you to come to court to meet with a Family Court Facilitator who will help you understand what you need to do during your case, answer your questions, and give you instructions about the next steps in your case.  However, you will not be given any legal advice.

Injunction

A court order directing a person to keep oneself from doing something or ordering the person to do something.

Intent

The state of mind accompanying an act, especially a forbidden act.  While motive is the reason for doing some act, intent is the mental resolution or determination to do it.

Interested persons

Person identified by Colorado Law who must be given notice of a court proceeding. The term may include heirs, children, spouse, devisees, beneficiaries, creditors, claimants and persons having priority to serve as personal representative, depending on the circumstances.

Interlocutory

Refers to an order, judgment or appeal, that is temporary and issued or taken while the case is still pending and is not final.

Interrogatories

A written set of questions, submitted to an opposing party in a lawsuit as part of discovery, or served on a judgment debtor by a judgment creditor trying to collect a debt.  Interrogatories must be answered in writing and under oath.

Intervenor

A person who voluntarily enters into an action or other proceedings with the approval of the court.

Intestate

An estate in which the person (decedent) did not live a will.

Intestate succession

By Colorado law, a list of who will inherit the property when someone dies without a will.

Irrevocable trust

A trust that cannot be terminated by the settlor (the person who created the trust) once it’s created.

Jeopardy

The risk of conviction and punishment that a criminal defendant faces at trial.

Joinder

The combining of parties or claims in a single lawsuit.  Joinder can be either necessary or permissive.

Joint tenancy

Ownership by two or more people of the same property. This property may be real estate, cash or other items.

Judgment

A court’s final determination of the rights and obligations of the parties in a case.  The term includes a decree and any order that can be appealed.

Judgment creditor

The person(s), company or group who should receive a specific amount of money according to the Court’s order.

Judgment debtor

The person(s), company or group who owes a specific amount of money according to the Court’s order.

Jurisdiction

A court’s power to decide a case or issue a decree.

Jury

A group of persons selected according to law and given the power to decide questions of fact and return a verdict in a court case.

Justice

The fair and proper administration of laws. It can also refer to a judge, especially of an appellate court.

Juvenile

A person who has not reached the age of majority, usually 18.

Juvenile delinquent

An underage person that has committed a crime in states where by law a minor lacks responsibility and  may not be sentenced as an adult.

Legal Separation

A court order granting the right to live apart, with the rights and obligations of divorced persons, but without divorce.  The order can include issues relating to child custody, alimony, child support, division of property and debts.

Letters

A document issued by the Court, identifying the authority of the Personal Representative, Guardian or Conservator.

Levy

A legal process to obtain property or cash from the judgment debtor to satisfy a judgment.

Liability

Any legal responsibility, duty or obligation.

Lien

A claim that a person has upon the property of another as security for a debt owed.

Litigant

A party to a lawsuit, one who is engaged in litigation, usually referred to active parties in a case.

Litigation

A law suit, legal action, including all proceedings therein.

Magistrate

A person other than a judge authorized by Colorado law or by Colorado court rules to make orders or judgments in court proceedings, like trials or hearings.

Maintenance

Maintenance is the new term for "alimony" or "spousal/partner support".  Maintenance is financial support paid to a former spouse or partner.

Mandate

A command, order or direction, written or spoken which the court is authorized to give and a person is must obey.

May

In legal terms, "may" is defined as "optional" or "can".

Mediation

A trained neutral person helps people involved in a court case reach their own solution.

Minor

A person who does not have the legal rights of an adult. Someone who has not yet reached the age of majority which in most states is the age of 18.

Mistrial

A trial ended before a verdict is reached because of a basic error that is harmful to the defendant.

Modification

Any change to a current court order or decree.

Money judgment

Part of a judgment that requires the payment of money by one party (the judgment debtor) to another (the judgment creditor).

Moot

An issue which no longer is important.

Motion

A  written or oral request a party makes to the Court for a specified ruling or order.

Motion in limine

A written motion which is usually made before or after the beginning of a jury trial for a protective order against extremely harmful evidence.

Motion to suppress

A motion asking that allegedly secured illegal evidence be left out of the trial.

Nominee

The person seeking appointment as Personal Representative.

Non-Appearance Hearing

This is not an actual hearing date and no one needs to show up to court.  This is a date that the court puts on their calendar as a reminder to take further action.

Notary Public

A person authorized by the state in which the person resides to certify documents . The signature and seal or stamp of a notary public is necessary to attest to the oath of truth of a person making an affidavit and to attest that a person has acknowledged that he/she executed a deed, power of attorney or other document, and is required for recording in public records

Oath

A serious affirmation or promise to tell the truth or to take a certain action.

Order

A formal written direction given by a judge or magistrate.

Parental responsibility

This term includes both parenting time and decision-making responsibilities regarding the children. (The term “Custody” is no longer used.)

Parental Rights

In the State of Colorado the freedom to decide who cares for children and how.  Also includes the freedom to decide how to spend time with a son or daughter, including activities and time, in order to raise a child.  Decisions about school, religion, and medical treatment are included.

Parenting plan

A written document that identifies decision-making responsibilities, parenting time, relocation, child support, and child tax exemption relating to the children in a divorce or custody case.

Parenting time

Also known as "Visitation". The right of a parent to spend time with their children by order of the Court.

Party

One of the participants in a lawsuit or other legal proceeding who has an interest in the outcome.

Paternity

A specific man being the natural or biological father of a child.

Payable on Death (POD)

A bank account that names a specific person as beneficiary of all funds once the account holder dies. Probate is not necessary.

Permanent Protection Order (PPO)

An order granting continuous protection to prevent assaults and threatened bodily harm, domestic abuse, emotional abuse and stalking.

Person in Interest

Property owner or other individual or group named as the landlord on a lease or person who has some sort of involvement or investment in the rental or home.

Personal representative

A person at least 21, resident or non-resident of Colorado, who has been appointed to administer the estate of the Decedent and may also be referred to as an Executor/Executrix.

Personal Service

Delivering a summons, complaint, or other legal document which must be served by handing it directly to the person named in the document.

Petition

A written application to the Court asking for specific action to be taken.

Petitioner

A person who is completing and filing a written Petition (application) with the Court

In Probate: A person who files a Petition for Formal Appointment of Personal Representative and/or Determination of Heirs.

Plaintiff

The person who starts a lawsuit.  This person may also be known as "claimant", "petitioner", or "applicant".

Pleading

The formal presentation of claims and defenses by parties to a lawsuit. The specific papers by which the allegations of parties to a lawsuit are presented in proper form; specifically the complaint of a plaintiff and the answer of a defendant plus any additional responses to those papers that are authorized by law.

Post Trial Motion

A written request to the court for something after a trial in a criminal case is finished and a judge has made a written decision.

Power of Attorney

A written document in which one person appoints another person to act as an agent on his or her behalf, giving authority to perform certain acts or functions.

Prenuptial agreement

A written agreement setting out terms of the relationship for the division of property and financial issues for a couple who are about to live together or marry should the relationship or marriage later be dissolved.

Pro bono

For the good; used to describe work or services done or performed free of charge.

Pro se

(pronounced pro say) Latin phrase that means "for himself." A person who represents himself in court alone without the help of a lawyer is said to appear pro se.

Probate

A type of court case or area of law that focuses on guardianships, conservatorships, or division of a persons property after death.

Process Server

A person who serves or delivers legal paperwork.

Promissory note

A written document in which a borrower agrees (promises) to pay back money to a lender according to specified terms

Protected Person

Term used to describe someone who is subject to a conservatorship and has a conservator appointed to help them.

Public Notice

Document which is submitted to the local newspaper (that must meet the qualifications of a legal publication) to publish notice of a requested name change.

Public Trustee

In Colorado, an individual appointed by the Governor that keeps deeds of trusts related to real estate, handles the sale of foreclosed real estate, and collects taxes related to real estate.  A public trustee is appointed in each county or the treasurer in the county acts as public trustee.

Publication

A method of providing legal notice, conveying or making information generally known to the public, usually by means of an approved newspaper in the appropriate county or district.

Real property

Land and all the things that are attached to it, like a garage or barn. Anything that is not real property is personal property.  Personal property is anything that isn't nailed down, dug into, or built onto the land. A house is real property, but a dining room set is not.

Registered Agent

A person authorized to accept Service of Process for a corporation.

Replevin

Legal way to get property back from a person who has wrongfully taken or kept property.  You must have had or have the right to keep to the property.

Respondent

A person who has been named in a court case, and was served legal documents that were started and given to the Court by another person, known as the “Petitioner”.  If the Respondent wishes to have a say in the case they must file or give a response to the Court.

Return of Service

Written proof under oath by a process server saying that they delivered legal documents (such as a summons and complaint).  "Return of Service" is also refered to as "Proof of Service".

Right of Survivorship

When property is owned by two or more people and one of the owners dies, his or her share goes to the remaining owners without needing to open a probate case.   

Satisfaction of Judgment

The document stating the Judgment Debtor has satisfied (paid) the judgment. If the judgment has been paid, this document must be filed by the Judgment Creditor with the Clerk of Court in order to remove the judgment from credit reports as being unpaid. The satisfaction can be “Full” or “Partial”.

Security Agreement

A contract between a lender and borrower that states that the lender can repossess the property a person has offered as collateral if the loan is not paid as agreed.

Self-represented Litigant

Also known as a Pro Se Party. A person who represents himself or herself in court without the help of a lawyer.

Separation Agreement

Written arrangements concerning custody or parental obligation, child support, spousal maintenance (alimony), and property division made by a married couple who are usually about to obtain a divorce or legal separation

Serve

To give court paperwork that starts a court case or is part of a court case to the person that is being sued or the other person in the case.  This is done by a person who isn't involved in the case or a sheriff or private process server.  The person starting the case cannot deliver the paperwork.

Service of Process

The official act by which a party is notified that a court action has been filed against them.  They are personally served with a copy of the document(s) filed and information as to the steps they should take in order to respond to the court action.

Settle

To reach an agreement.

Settlement

The resolution or compromise by the parties in a civil lawsuit.

Settlement Conference

An informal assessment and negotiation session conducted by a legal professional who hears both sides of the case, may advise the parties on the law and precedent relating to the dispute, and suggest a settlement.An informal assessment and negotiation session conducted by a legal professional who hears both sides of the case, may advise the parties on the law and precedent relating to the dispute, and suggest a settlement.

Shall

In legal terms, “shall” is defined as “required”.

Statute of Limitations

Laws setting deadlines for filing lawsuits within a certain time after events occur that are the source of a claim.

Stay

An order stopping a judicial proceeding or execution of a judgment.

Stipulation

An agreement by opposing lawyers on any matter. Most stipulations must be in writing.

Strict Liability

A concept applied by courts in product liability cases in which a seller is liable for any and all defective or hazardous products that unduly threaten a consumer's personal safety.

Subpoena

An order to a witness to appear and testify at a specified time and place.

Subpoena Duces Tecum

Latin meaning "bring with you". Subpoena duces tecum seeks not the appearance of a person before a court but the surrender of a thing (document or some other evidence) by its holder, to the court, to serve as evidence in a trial.

Summation

The closing argument in a trial.

Summons

(1)An order to a sheriff or other officer to notify a named person that a civil action has been commenced against him or her and that he or she is required to appear within a specified period and answer the complaint.(2)  A written order or notice directing that a person appear before a designated court at a stated time and place and answer to a charge against him or her. (3) The document initiates all civil law suits and is referred to as process.

Supersedeas Bond

A bond required of a party who asks to set aside a judgment or execution and from which the other party may be paid if the action is unsuccessful.

Sworn Financial Statement

A written document that contains financial information to include monthly income, expenses, debts, and value of assets.

Temporary Injunction

An automatic Court order in place until the Decree is entered or until further order of the Court.  The order prevents the transfer of property, ending of insurance coverage, etc. without the permission of the other person in the case.

Temporary Order

Written paperwork from the Court, short-term, to deal with issues such as spousal maintenance (alimony), child support, or financial responsibilities until the final decree of divorce is made.

Temporary Protection Order (TPO)

Short-term written paperwork from the court granted without notice or hearing. A Temporary Protection Order (TPO) keeps one party from the other until the court can hear more evidence and decide whether to issue a permanent protection order.

Temporary Substitute Guardian

If a guardian is not doing what they are supposed to be doing, and it would be in the best interest of the Ward to take immediate action, the court can appoint a temporary substitute guardian for a maximum of 6 months.

Tenants in Common

Property that is owned by two or more people.  When one person dies his or her part of the property goes to his or her estate rather than to the remaining co-owners. A probate case may be necessary.

Testate

Estate in which the person who died left a will.             

Testator

The person who makes a will.

Testimony

The statements made by a witness, under oath, usually related to a legal proceeding; evidence given by a witness under oath or affirmation, as distinguished from evidence from writing and other sources.

Tort

An injury or wrong committed, with or without force, against someone or their property.

Transcript

A typed record of what was said and happened in a court hearing.

Transcript of Judgment

A one-page document from the Court that gives the name of the Judgment Debtor (person or company who owes money), Judgment Creditor (the person or company who is owed money)  and the date and amount of the judgment.

Transferable on Death (TOD)

Naming beneficiaries to receive your money and property when you die without filing a probate case.

Traverse

A denial; where a Defendant denies any important claim of fact in the Plaintiff’s statement.

Trust

Property given to a trustee to manage for the benefit of another person. Generally the beneficiary gets interest and dividends on the trust assets for a set number of years.

Trustee

Person or group that supervises and manages a trust.

Valid Claim

A grievance that can be resolved by legal action.

Verdict

The opinion rendered by a jury, or a judge where there is no jury, on a question of fact. A verdict differs from a judgment in that a verdict is not a judicial determination, but is a finding of fact.

Vicarious Liability

When one person is liable for the negligent actions of another person, even though the first person was not directly responsible for the injury. For instance, a parent sometimes can be vicariously liable for the harmful acts of a child and an employer sometimes can be vicariously liable for the acts of a worker.

Victim

: Any person aggrieved by the conduct of an offender. For a complete listing of who may be considered a victim, please see Section 18-1.3-602(4) of the Colorado Revised Statutes.

Wage execution

The act of taking a person's wages to satisfy a judgment. Also known as garnishment.

Waiver

The intentional and voluntary relinquishment of a legal right.

Waiver of Service

A voluntary acceptance of service by the Respondent giving up his or her right to proof of service or service of future court documents or notices of hearings from the Petitioner.

Ward

Term used to describe someone who is subject to a guardianship and has a guardian appointed to help them.

Warrant

An order issued by the court ordering any peace officer to arrest the person named or described in the order.

Warrantless Arrest

An arrest of a person without a warrant. It is generally permissible if the arresting officer has reasonable grounds to believe that the person has committed a felony or if the person has committed a misdemeanor amounting to a breach of the peace.

Witness

One who testifies under oath as to what she/he has seen, heard or otherwise observed.

Writ

An order issued from a court requiring the performance of a specified act, or giving authority to have it done.

Writ of Attachment

A writ used to enforce obedience to an order or judgment of the court by taking property.

Writ of Certiorari

An order by the appellate court that is used when the court has discretion on whether or not to hear an appeal. If the writ is denied, the court refused to hear the appeal and, in effect, the judgment below stands unchanged. If the writ is granted, then it has the effect of ordering the lower court to certify the record and send it up to the higher court that will use its discretion to hear the case.

Writ of Execution

An order from the court to put in force the judgment or decree of a court by taking property of the person who owes money to pay a debt.

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