Legal Definitions

Alternate Jurors - Additional Juror (s) impaneled in a civil or criminal case to be utilized in case of sickness or disability of another juror; generally in trials with expectedly long duration.

Arbitrary - In an unreasonable manner, as fixed or done capriciously or at pleasure, without adequate determining principle.

Charge to the Jury – The final address by a Judge to the jury before verdict, in which the judge sums up the case, and instructs the jury as to the rules of law which apply to the various issues in the case, and which they must observe.

Civil Case - Laws concerned with civil or private rights and remedies, as contrasted with criminal laws.

Clerk of Courts - Officer of the court who may be responsible for filing and docketing pleadings, motions, judgments, etc., issues processes, and keeps records of court proceedings. Functions and duties of clerks of courts are usually specified by statute or court rules.

Court of Common Pleas - Courts wherein all civil and criminal actions are begun (except such as are brought before courts of inferior jurisdiction).

Criminal Case - An action instituted to punish an infraction of the criminal laws.

Cross-Examine - The examination of a witness upon a trial or hearing, or upon taking a deposition, by the party opposed to the one who produced him, upon his evidence given in chief, to test its truth, to further develop it, or for other purposes.

Defendant - The person defending or denying; the party against whom relief or recovery is sought in an action or suit or the accused in a criminal case.

Defense Attorney - Attorney who files his or her appearance on behalf of a defendant and represents such in civil or criminal case.

Deliberate - To weigh, ponder, discuss, regard upon, consider. To examine and consult in order to form an opinion. To weigh in the mind; to consider the reasons for and against; to consider maturely; reflect upon, as to deliberate a question; to weigh the arguments for and against a proposed course of action.

Deputy Sheriffs - One appointed to act in the place and stead of the sheriff in the official business of the latter's office.

Prosecuting Attorney - Under the state governments, the prosecuting officer who represents the state in each of judicial districts.

Excused for Cause - With respect to removal from a position, such as a juror for reasons that law and public policy recognize as sufficient warrant for removal.

Impartiality - Favoring neither; disinterested; treating all alike; unbiased; equitable.

Judge - An officer so named in his commission, who presides in some court; a public officer, appointed to preside and to administer the law in a court of justice; the chief member of a court and charged with the control of proceedings and the decision of questions of law and discretion.

Jurisdiction - Power and authority of a court to hear and determine a judicial proceeding; power to render judgment.

Juror Summons - A written order ordering that a person to appear for jury duty.

Jury Commission - Local officials who are responsible for collecting lists of qualified prospective jurors for submission to court.

Peers - Equals; those who are man's equal in rank and station.

Peremptory Strikes – The right of a party to challenge a juror without assigning or being required to assign a reason for the challenge.

Plaintiff - A person who brings in action; the party who complains or sues in a civil action and is so named on the record. In which he/she seeks remedial relief for an injury to rights.

Presumed Innocent - A principle that that no person may be convicted of a crime unless the government has proved guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. A criminal defendant is presumed to be innocent unless and until the Commonwealth proves otherwise.

Sequestered - To separate or isolate; to sequester jurors is to isolate them from contact with the public during the course of a sensational trial.

Striking of Jurors - The selecting or nominating of a jury out of the whole number returned as jurors on the panel. 

Subjective - Relating to, or a characteristic that constitutes a subject.

Summations - On the trial of an action to a jury, a recapitulation by attorneys and, sometimes, a judge of the evidence adduced, in order to draw the attention of the jury to the salient points at issue. The council for each party has the right to offer a summation of the evidence, if he has adduced any, and the judge sums up the whole in his charge to the jury.

Testimony - Evidence given by a competent witness under oath or affirmation; as distinguished from evidence derived from writings and other sources.

Verdict - The definitive answer given by the jury to the court concerning the matters of facts committed to the jury for their deliberation and determination.

Vested - Fixed; accrued; settled; absolute; complete.

Voir dire - This phrase denotes the preliminary examination which the court and attorneys make of prospective jurors to determine their qualification and suitability to serve as jurors. Peremptory challenges or challenges for cause may result from such examination.