- S -
Search warrant - A written
order issued by a judge that directs a law enforcement officer to
search a specific area for a particular piece of evidence.
Seal - To mark a document
with a seal; to authenticate or make binding by affixing a seal.
Court seal, corporate seal.
Secondary authority -
Legal encyclopedias, treatises, legal texts, law review articles,
and citators. Writings which set forth the opinion of the writer
as to the law.
Secured debts - In
bankruptcy, a debt is secured if the debtor gave the creditor a
right to repossess the property or goods used as collateral.
Securities an Exchange
Commission (SEC) - A federal agency which monitors the
Self-defense - The claim
that an act otherwise criminal was legally justifiable because it
was necessary to protect a person or property from the threat or
action of another.
against: - The constitutional right of people to refuse to
give testimony against themselves that could subject them to
criminal prosecution. The right is guaranteed in the Fifth
Amendment to the United States Constitution . Asserting the right
is often referred to as "taking the Fifth."
Self-proving will - A will
whose validity does not have to be testified to in court by the
witnesses to it, since the witnesses executed an affidavit
reflecting proper execution of the will prior to the maker's
Sentence - The punishment
ordered by a court for a defendant convicted of a crime. (See
concurrent and consecutive sentences.)
Sentence Report - (See
Sequester - To separate.
Sometimes juries are separated from outside influences during
their deliberations. For example, this may occur during a highly
Sequestration of witnesses
- Keeping all witnesses (except plaintiff and defendant) out of
the courtroom except for their time on the stand, and cautioning
them not to discuss their testimony with other witnesses. Also
referred to as "separation of witnesses."
Service of process - The
delivering of writs, summonses, and subpoenas by delivering them
to the party named in the document. Also referred to as
Settlement - An agreement
between the parties disposing of a lawsuit.
Settlor - The person who
sets up a trust. Also referred to as "grantor."
- Method for finding subsequent development of a legal theory
by tracing status of a case as legal authority.
Sheriff - The executive
officer of local court in some areas. In other jurisdictions the
sheriff is the chief law enforcement officer of a county.
Sherman Act - The basic
antitrust statute prohibiting any unreasonable interference,
conspiracy, restraint of trade, or monopolies with respect to
Sidebar - A conference
between the judge and lawyers, usually in the courtroom, out of
earshot of the jury and spectators.
Slander - Spoken
defamation which tends to injure a person's reputation. (See
Small Business (SBA) - A
federal agency which provides assistance of all kinds,
Administration including loans, to small businesses.
Small Claims Court - A
state court that handles civil claims for small amounts of money.
People often represent themselves rather than hire an attorney.
Security - A system of federal old-age pensions for employed
persons begun in 1935. A portion of the payment is deducted from
the employee's salary and an equal portion is contributed by the
Social Security Administration
- The federal agency which administers the national social
Social Security Tax - A
payroll deduction based on gross wages paid; this amount is
matched by the employer as required by the Federal Insurance
Contribution Act (FICA).
Sovereign Immunity - The
doctrine that the government, state or federal, is immune to
lawsuit unless it give its consent.
Specific performance - A
remedy requiring a person who has breached a contract to perform
specifically what he or she has agreed to do. Specific performance
is ordered when damages would be inadequate compensation.
Speedy Trial Act - Federal
law establishing time limits for carrying out major events, i.e.
indictment, arraignment, etc., in a criminal prosecution.
Spendthrift trust - A
trust set up for the benefit of someone who the grantor believes
would be incapable of managing his or her own financial affairs.
Standard of proof -
Indicates the degree to which the point must be proven. In a civil
case, the burden of proof rests with the plaintiff, who must
establish his or her case by such standards of proof as a
"preponderance of evidence" or "clear and
convincing evidence." (See burden of proof.)
Standing - The legal right
to bring a lawsuit. Only a person with something at stake has
standing to bring a lawsuit.
Status offenders - Youths
charged with the status of being beyond the control of their legal
guardian or are habitually disobedient, truant from school, or
having committed other acts that would not be a crime if committed
by an adult, i.e., smoking. Also referred to as minors or children
in need of supervision.
Statute - Legislative
enactment; it may be a single act of a legislature or a body of
acts which are collected and arranged for a session of a
legislature. (See statutory law.)
Statute of frauds - A
statutory requirement that certain contracts must be in writing.
Statute of limitations - A
statute which limits the right of a plaintiff to file an action
unless it is done within a specified time period after the
occurrence which gives rise to the right to sue.
Statutory - Relating to a
statute; created or defined by a law.
Statutory construction -
Process by which a court seeks to interpret the meaning and scope
Statutory law - Laws
promulgated by Congress and state legislatures. (See case law and
Statutory research -
Research of legislation enacted by a state or the United States.
Stay - A court order
halting a judicial proceeding.
Stipulation - An agreement
between the parties involved in a suit regulating matters
incidental to trial.
Strict liability - Concept
applied by the courts in product liability cases that when a
manufacturer presents his goods for public sale, he is
representing that they are suitable for their intended use.
Strike - Highlighting in
the record of a case, evidence that has been improperly offered
and will not be relied upon.
Subject research -
Research of matter by determining all law related to that matter
by finding everything on the subject.
Subpoena - A command to
appear at a certain time and place to give testimony upon a
Subpoena Duces Tecum - A
court order commanding a witness to bring certain documents or
records to court.
Substantive criminal law - Law
with the purpose of prevention of harm to society which prescribed
punishment for specific offenses. The basic law of rights and
duties as opposed to "remedial law" which provides
methods of enforcement.
Substantive law - The
statutory or written law that governs rights and obligations of
those who are subject to it.
Summary judgment - A
judgment given on the basis of pleadings, affidavits, and exhibits
presented for the record without any need for a trial. It is used
when there is no dispute as to the facts of the case and one party
is entitled to a judgment as a matter of law.
Summons - Instrument used
to commence a civil action or special proceeding; the means of
acquiring jurisdiction over a party.
Support trust - A trust
that instructs the trustee to spend only as much income and
principal (the assets held in the trust) as needed for the
Suppress - To forbid the
use of evidence at a trial because t is improper or was improperly
obtained. (See also exclusionary rule.)
Surety Bond - A bond
purchased at the expense of the estate to insure the executor's
proper performance. Also referred to as "fidelity bond."
Survivorship - (See joint
Suspension - A temporary
loss of the right to practice law by an attorney. (See disbarment
Sustain - A court ruling
upholding an objection or a motion.