A common law doctrine under which judges are obligated to follow the precedents established in prior decisions.
A federal, state, or local government agency established to perform a specific function. Administrative agencies are authorized by legislative acts to make and enforce rules to administer and enforce the acts.
The body of law created by administrative agencies (in the form of rules, regulations, orders, and decisions) in order to carry out their duties and responsibilities.
To state, recite, assert, or charge.
In logical reasoning, an assumption that if two things are similar in some respects, they will be similar in other respects also. Often used in legal reasoning to infer the appropriate application of legal principles in a case being decided by referring to previous cases involving different facts but considered to come within the policy underlying the rule.
The party who takes an appeal from one court to another.
The party against whom an appeal is taken—that is, the party who opposes setting aside or reversing the judgment.
Any source of law that a court must follow when deciding a case. Binding authorities include constitutions, statutes, and regulations that govern the issue being decided, as well as court decisions that are controlling precedents within the jurisdiction.
To violate a law, by an act or an omission, or to break a legal obligation that one owes to another person or to society.
The rules of law announced in court decisions. Case law includes the aggregate of reported cases that interpret judicial precedents, statutes, regulations, and constitutional provisions.
case on point
A previous case involving factual circumstances and issues that are similar to those in the case before the court.
An adviser to the king at the time of the early king’s courts of England. Individuals petitioned the king for relief when they could not obtain an adequate remedy in a court of law, and these petitions were decided by the chancellor.
A reference to a publication in which a legal authority—such as a statute or a court decision—or other source can be found.
The branch of law dealing with the definition and enforcement of all private or public rights, as opposed to criminal matters.
That body of law developed from custom or judicial decisions in English and U.S. courts, not attributable to a legislature.
Law that is based on the U.S. Constitution and the constitutions of the various states.
court of equity
A court that decides controversies and administers justice according to the rules, principles, and precedents of equity.
court of law
A court in which the only remedies that could be granted were things of value, such as money damages. In the early English king’s courts, courts of law were distinct from courts of equity.
Law that defines and governs actions that constitute crimes. Generally, criminal law has to do with wrongful actions committed against society for which society demands redress.
An informal term used to refer to all laws governing electronic communications and transactions, particularly those conducted via the Internet.
Money sought as a remedy for a breach of contract or for a tortious act.
One against whom a lawsuit is brought; the accused person in a criminal proceeding.
Reasons that a defendant offers in an action or suit as to why the plaintiff should not obtain what he or she is seeking.
General propositions or principles of law that have to do with fairness (equity).
An administrative agency within the executive branch of government. At the federal level, executive agencies are those within the cabinet departments.
A school of legal thought that emphasizes the evolutionary process of law and that looks to the past to discover what the principles of contemporary law should be.
independent regulatory agency
An administrative agency that is not considered part of the government’s executive branch and is not subject to the authority of the president. Independent agency officials cannot be removed without cause.
The science or philosophy of law.
The equitable doctrine that bars a party’s right to legal action if the party has neglected for an unreasonable length of time to act on her or his rights.
A body of enforceable rules governing relationships among individuals and between individuals and their society.
A school of legal thought that believes there can be no higher law than a nation’s positive law—law created by a particular society at a particular point in time. In contrast to the natural law school, the positivist school maintains that there are no “natural” rights. Rights come into existence only when there is a sovereign power (government) to confer and enforce those rights.
A school of legal thought that was popular in the 1920s and 1930s and that challenged many existing jurisprudential assumptions, particularly the assumption that subjective elements play no part in judicial reasoning. Legal realists generally advocated a less abstract and more pragmatic approach to the law, an approach that would take into account customary practices and the circumstances in which transactions take place. The school left a lasting imprint on American jurisprudence.
The process of reasoning by which a judge harmonizes his or her decision with the judicial decisions of previous cases.
The belief that government and the legal system should reflect universal moral and ethical principles that are inherent in human nature. The natural law school is the oldest and one of the most significant schools of legal thought.
A statement by the court expressing the reasons for its decision in a case.
A law passed by a local governing unit, such as a municipality or a county.
In equity practice, a party that initiates a lawsuit.
One who initiates a lawsuit.
A court decision that furnishes an example or authority for deciding subsequent cases involving identical or similar facts.
Rules that define the manner in which the rights and duties of individuals may be enforced.
A government policy based on widely held societal values and (usually) expressed or implied in laws or regulations.
The relief given to an innocent party to enforce a right or compensate for the violation of a right.
remedy at law
A remedy available in a court of law. Money damages are awarded as a remedy at law.
remedy in equity
A remedy allowed by courts in situations where remedies at law are not appropriate. Remedies in equity are based on settled rules of fairness, justice, and honesty, and include injunction, specific performance, rescission and restitution, and reformation.
A publication in which court cases are published, or reported.
In equity practice, the party who answers a bill or other proceeding.
A school of legal thought that views the law as a tool for promoting justice in society.
statute of limitations
A federal or state statute setting the maximum time period during which a certain action can be brought or certain rights enforced.
The body of law enacted by legislative bodies (as opposed to constitutional law, administrative law, or case law).
Law that defines the rights and duties of individuals with respect to each other, as opposed to procedural law, which defines the manner in which these rights and duties may be enforced.
A form of deductive reasoning consisting of a major premise, a minor premise, and a conclusion.
A model law created by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws and/or the American Law Institute for the states to consider adopting. If the state adopts the law, it becomes statutory law in that state. Each state has the option of adopting or rejecting all or part of a uniform law.
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