Legal Terms and Procedures

This information, prepared by the Louisiana State Bar Association, is issued to inform and provide general information, not to advise. If you have a specific legal problem, you should not try to apply or interpret the law without the aid of a trained expert who knows the facts, because the facts may change the application of the law.

abstract of title
A chronological history, in abbreviated form, of the ownership of a parcel of land.
accessory after the fact
Any person who, after the commission of a felony, shall harbor, conceal, or aid the offender, knowing or having reasonable ground to believe that he has committed the felony, and with the intent that he may avoid or escape from arrest, trial, conviction, or punishment.
A formal endorsement upon a deed or other document by an authorized officer, usually a notary or court personnel, showing in substance that the person making the acknowledgment was personally known to the officer taking the acknowledgment, to be the same person who signed the document and that such person duly acknowledged the execution of the document.
action in personam (in per-so'-nam)
An action against the person, founded on a personal liability.
action in rem (in rem)
Proceeding "against the thing" as compared to personal actions (in personam). Usually a proceeding where property is involved.
Giving or pronouncing a judgment or decree; also the judgment given.
An individual appointed by the court to manage the estate (property) of a person who died without leaving a valid will.
adversary system
A judicial system involving opposing parties, each having the right to be represented by qualified counsel, in which the party prosecuting or seeking relief has the burden of establishing his or her case and has given legal warning to the adversary, who is afforded an opportunity to contest the case presented. The opposing parties, through counsel, must produce evidence, legal rules, and argument to substantiate their respective contentions. This presentation of adverse positions, supervised by the presiding judge, is the foundation upon which the jury or judge determines the respective rights. The United States and Great Britain use the adversary system.
affirmative defense
A defense which does not necessarily refute an allegation but offers new matter which may defeat the right to recovery.
A defense offered by a defendant who claims that he or she was at some other place at the time of the commission of the crime and therefore did not commit the crime charged. The burden of proof is still on the prosecution to prove that the defendant committed the crime.
temporary alimony pendente lite
Allowance granted to a spouse for support of spouse and children while living apart, but not divorced from the other spouse.
The statement in a pleading made by a party to a civil action setting forth what he or she expects to prove.
amicus curiae (a-mi'-kus ku'-ri-e)
A friend of the court - a lawyer, person, or organization - who is not a party to the action and does not represent a party to the action, but who with the court's permission, volunteers information and opinion upon some matter of law.
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.
A proceeding by which a party seeks a court review of the action taken by a lower court. An appeal is a matter of right and the reviewing court must hear the appeal. See also, certiorari, a nonmandatory method of review
The formal act by which defendants submit themselves to the jurisdiction of the court. It may be in person, by an attorney, by pleadings, or a combination of these
appearance bond
An obligation signed by the accused and/or his surety to secure presence in court when so ordered. The bond is subject to forfeiture if the accused fails to appear.
appellant (a-pel'-ant)
The party appealing to the higher court, i.e., the losing party in the lower court.
appellate court
A court having jurisdiction of appeal to review the action taken by a lower court
The party against whom an appeal is taken, i.e., the winning party in the lower court.
A proceeding in a felony case in which a defendant is brought before the court to answer to a criminal charge. The charge is read to the defendant, who is asked how he or she pleads.
arrest of judgment
The act of staying (delaying) the effect of judgment which has already been entered.
An ancillary or auxiliary remedy by which the plaintiff seizes property of the defendant to ensure the satisfaction of a civil judgment.
attorney of record
Attorney whose name appears in the permanent records or files of a case
Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600