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Suffolk County District Court - Civil Division Glossary


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ACKNOWLEDGMENT
The act of going before a qualified officer (e.g., Clerk) and declaring the validity of the document. The officer certifies same, whose certification is known as the acknowledgment.
ACTION
A lawsuit or proceeding commenced in a court.
ACTUAL PLACE OF BUSINESS
Any location that the defendant, through regular solicitation or advertisement, has held out as its place of business (CPLR ยง308.6).
ADJOURN
To delay the hearing of a proceeding to a subsequent date.
ADJUDICATE
To rule upon or decide (i.e., Motion or Trial).
ADVERSARY
An opponent. The defendant is the plaintiff's adversary.
AFFIANT
One who signs an affidavit.
AFFIDAVIT
A written statement made under oath.
AFFINITY
Related by marriage; family relation from one's spouse's family.
AFFIRMATION
A solemn and formal declaration under penalties of perjury that a statement is true, without an oath.
AFFIRMED
Upheld, agreed with (e.g.,The Appellate Division affirmed the judgment of the District Court).
ALLEGATION
A statement of a party in a pleading.
ALLEGE
To assert a fact in a pleading.
AMEND
To change.
AMICUS CURIAE
A Friend of the Court. A non-party to a proceeding that the Court permits to present its views.
ANSWER
A pleading by a defendant.
APPEAL
An application to an Appellate Court to review the lower Court's judgment or order.
APPEAL BOND
(see: Undertaking)
APPEARANCE
The coming into court as a party to an action (see: Sec. 320 CPLR).
APPELLANT
The one who appeals.
APPELLEE
The one who opposes the appellant.
ARBITRATION
A less formal hearing by an ARBITRATOR to ADJUDICATE a case.  The ARBITRATOR renders an award, which is binding, and is generally not appealable. 
  1. Suffolk District Court Civil Actions, damages less than $6000, are subject to mandatory arbitration  (see NYCRR Title 22 Judiciary Part 28). After ARBITRATION, Parties not in default may request a JUDGE to hear the case by requesting a TRIAL DE NOVO.
  2. Suffolk District Court SMALL CLAIMS and COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS are subject to mandatory arbitration in Suffolk County. After ARBITRATION, parties not in default may request a JUDGE to hear the case by requesting a TRIAL DE NOVO.
  3. Attorney Fee Dispute Arbitration (see NYCRR Title 22 Judiciary Part 137) through the Bar Association. A party who is not satisfied with the award may commence an action for DE NOVO REVIEW in a SMALL CLAIMS action or a CIVIL action (not the filing of a demand for a trial de novo).
ARBITRATOR
An attorney assigned by the Court to hear and decide a case. 
ATTACHMENT
The taking of property into legal custody by an enforcement officer (see specialty section: Recovery of Chattel).
AWARD
A decision of an Arbitrator.

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BAR
1. Prohibit - to bar the prosecution of an action.
2. The members of the legal profession.
BENCH
The Judge's seat or the judge, himself/herself, (e.g., the attorney addressed the bench).
BILL OF COSTS
A written statement of the itemized taxable costs and disbursements (see: Judgments).
BILL OF PARTICULARS
A detailed written statement of the facts in a plaintiff's complaint or a defendant's answer and/or counterclaim.
BRIEF
An attorney's written summary of the legal points in presenting his client's argument for a trial or appeal.

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CALENDAR
A listing of court cases.
CAPTION
Top portion of a legal paper indicating the Court's name and the names of the parties.
CAUSE OF ACTION
Grounds on which a legal action may be brought (e.g., property damage, personal injury, goods sold and delivered, work labor and services).
CERTIFIED COPY
Copy of a document signed and certified as a true copy of an original by the Clerk of the Court, lawyer, or other authorized persons.
CHANGE OF VENUE
Change in the situs or location of an action from one court to another.
CHARGING A JURY
Final instructions by a Judge to the jury prior to their deliberations.
CHATTEL
An article of personal property.
CITE
To summon or command ones presence. To refer to authorities in support of an argument or proposition, (e.g. The attorney cited case law to support his argument).
COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS COURT
A special part of a local civil court with simplified rules for businesses to sue for money only. COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS have limited geographic and monetary jurisdiction. Defined in article 18-a of the Uniform District Court Act, New York City Civil Court Act, and the Uniform City Court Act.
COMPLAINT
First pleading by a plaintiff in a civil action.
CONSANGUINITY
Related by blood.
CONTEMPT
A wilful disregard of a Court, Judge or legal document.
CONSOLIDATE
A joining of two or more actions for aspecific purpose.
COSTS
The statutory sum awarded to the successful party when a judgment is entered (see UDCA 1901)
COUNSEL
Lawyer or attorney.
COUNTERCLAIM
  1. In civil actions, a claim brought by a defendant against the plaintiff for an unlimited amount of money.
  2. In SMALL CLAIMS or COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS, a claim brought by a defendant against the plaintiff for an amount not to exceed the maximum monetary jurisdiction allowed in the SMALL CLAIMS or COMMERCIAL SMALL CLAIMS court.
COURT OF LIMITED JURISDICTION
A City Court, District Court or other local court that has jurisdiction only over actions authorized by law.
CROSS - CLAIM
Claim brought by a defendant against a co-defendant.

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DAMAGES
Monetary compensation or indemnity for wrong or injury caused by the violation of a legal right.
  • Compensatory damages - Reimbursement for actual loss or injury.
  • Exemplary damages - Monetary award by way of punishment for injury caused by aggravated circumstances or malice, in addition to compensation for the injury.
  • Punitive damages - Monetary compensation awarded in excess of ordinary damages, as punishment for a gross wrong.
DEFAULT
Failure of a party to respond to a claim (i.e., Answer) or appear at the trial.
DEFENDANT
One called upon to defend, deny or answer a legal action, also known as "respondent" in special proceedings.
DEPONENT
One who testifies under oath to the truth of facts.
DE NOVO
From the beginning, a new trial.
DE NOVO REVIEW
An action for a money judgment or declaratory judgment when a party is not satisfied with an arbitrator's AWARD after Attorney Fee Dispute Arbitration 22 NYCRR 137 (compare with TRIAL DE NOVO, below).
DEPOSITION
Testimony of a witness (i.e., examination before trial).
DISMISSAL WITH PREJUDICE
Action dismissed on the merits which prevents renewal of the same claim or cause of action.
DISMISSAL WITHOUT PREJUDICE
Action dismissed, not on the merits, which may be re-instituted.
DOCKET NUMBER
A number assigned to a case by the Court Clerk (may also referred to as a 'case number' or an 'index number')

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ET AL
And others.
ENFORCEMENT OFFICER
The person or persons authorized to enforce the mandate of the court. The Suffolk County Sheriff is ENFORCEMENT OFFICER in Suffolk County.
ET ANO
And another.
EVIDENCE
Testimony or documents introduced at trial.
EVICTION, WARRANT OF
Legal mandate authorizing an ENFORCEMENT OFFICER to remove persons and their personal property from their premises.
EXAMINATION BEFORE TRIAL
Pre-trial questions and answers under oath of a party or witness of a case.
EXEMPLIFICATION
An official transcript of a document from public records, made in a form to be used as evidence and authenticated or certified as a true copy, (e.g. exemplification of a judgment).
EX PARTE
One-sided; in the absence of the opposing party or parties.

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FAIR PREPONDERANCE
Level of proof in a civil action; more than half; more convincing.
FIRST PAPER
Paper instituting the action (e.g., Summons, Petition, Order to Show Cause, etc.).
FORUM
A judicial tribunal or a place of jurisdiction. A meeting for discussion.
FRIEND OF THE COURT
(see: Amicus Curiae)
FULL FAITH AND CREDIT
A requirement of the U.S. Constitution that the records and judicial proceedings of one state shall have the same effect in courts of other states with the same jurisdiction.

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GARNISHEE
A person who owes a debt to a judgment debtor, or a person other than the judgment debtor who has property in his/her possession or custody in which a judgment debtor has an interest (CPLR section 105[i]).
GUARDIAN AD LITEM
A person appointed by the court to represent an infant or incompetent.

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IMPLEADER
An addition of a third party to an action by the defendant.
INDEMNITY
Security against loss or damages, exemption from penalty or liability, amount paid as compensation under an indemnity agreement.
INDEX NUMBER
A number assigned to a case by the Court Clerk. 
INDORSED COMPLAINT
A statement of the nature and substance of the cause of action, for money only, which indicates the amount of the claim. It may be set forth upon the summons or attached to it.
INFANT
An individual who has not attained the age of eighteen (18).
INQUEST
A hearing where the plaintiff or defendant alone introduces testimony.
IN RE
In the matter of; concerning.
IN REM
Regarding the right or title to property.
INTER ALIA
Among other things.
INTERPLEADER
An equitable proceeding to determine the rights of rival claimants to property held by a third person having no interest therein.
INTERROGATORIES
Written questions for a party or witness of an action (pre-trial).

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JUDGMENT
A determination of the rights of the parties in an action or special proceeding. A judgment shall refer to and state the result of a verdict or decision, or recite the circumstances on which it is based.
JUDGMENT CREDITOR
The person owed money in a JUDGMENT.
JUDGMENT DEBTOR
The person who owes the money in a JUDGMENT.
JURISDICTION
Legal power, right and authority to hear and decide cases.
  1. Geographical area within which authority may be exercised. Lack of jurisdiction may not be waived by the parties, except for courts outside NYC pursuant to Section 213(d) of the Uniform City Court Act.
  2. Personal jurisdiction - Directed to a specific person to impose a personal liability on him (usually the defendant).
  3. Subject matter jurisdiction - Topic of consideration, thing in dispute, right claimed by one party against another.

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LEGAL AGE
Eighteen (18) years of age. See CPLR Section 1206.
LIEN
A hold or claim on property; the effect of a filed "Transcript of Judgment."
LITIGANT
Party to a legal action

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MILITARY CALENDAR
To hold in suspense an action that cannot reasonably be tried because a party or witness is in the military service.
MINUTE BOOK
A Court Clerk's Journal of Courtroom proceedings.
MOTION
An oral or written request made to a court at any time before, during or after court proceedings, asking the court to make a specified finding, decision or order.

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NATURAL PERSON
Individual (does not include corporate entities).
NON SEQ.
Abbreviation of "non sequitur" - It does not follow.
NOTICE OF ENTRY
A notice with an affidavit of service stating that the attached copy of an entered order or judgement has been served by a party on another party.
NOTICE OF PETITION
Written notice of a petitioner that a hearing will be held in a court to determine the relief requested in an annexed petition.
NUNC PRO TUNC
Now for then. Allowed to be done after the time it should have been done.
NYCRR
New York Code, Rules, and Regulations

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PARTY
Person having a direct interest in a legal matter, transaction or proceeding.
PETITION
Formal written application to a court.
PETITIONER
In a special proceeding, one who commences a formal written application, requesting some action or relief, addressed to a court for determination. Also known as a plaintiff in a civil action.
PLAINTIFF
A person who brings an action, party who complains or sues in an action. Also known as a petitioner in a special proceeding.
PLEADING
A written instrument which serves to present the issues in legal actions and/or defenses.
POLLING THE JURY
The Clerk's calling of the names of the jurors and asking each juror individually to state his/her verdict.
POWER OF ATTORNEY
Document authorizing one to act legally for another.
PRECLUDE
To prevent or stop.
PRO SE
(see: Self Represented)
PURGE
To atone for an offense, to submit to a court's mandate (i.e., to purge oneself of contempt of court).

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RECUSE
To disqualify oneself as a judge.
RELIEF
Legal remedy.
REMAND
To send back (e.g., when an Appellate Court returns a case back to the original court for reconsideration or a new trial).
REMITTITUR
Order containing the decision of the appellate court.
REPLEVIN
An action to recover goods wrongfully taken or withheld.
REPLY
Something said or done in response (e.g. to reply to an opposition to a motion).
RES
Subject matter.
RESPONDENT
One who formally answers the allegations stated in a petition which has been filed with the court. Also known as a defendant in a civil action.

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SANCTION
An imposed penalty.
SATISFACTION
Discharge of a legal obligation, as in a "Satisfaction of Judgment."
SECURITY FOR COSTS
An undertaking required by a court to cover the payment of costs if the judgment is against the depositor.
SELF REPRESENTED
A party is self represented when he/she is not represented by an attorney (previously referred to as Pro se).
SINE DIE
Without a date, as in an action being adjourned sine die.
SMALL CLAIMS COURT
A special part of a local civil court with simplified rules.  SMALL CLAIMS have limited geographic and monetary jurisdiction.  Defined in article 18 of the the  Uniform District Court Act, New York City Civil Court Act, Uniform City Court Act,  and the Uniform Justice Court Act.
STIPULATION OF SETTLEMENT
A formal agreement between litigants and/or their attorneys resolving their dispute.
SUBPOENA
Legal process which commands a witness to appear and testify.
SUBPOENA DUCES TECUM
A subpoena requiring the production of books or records.
SUBSEQUENT PROCEEDINGS
Any proceeding or action taken with respect to a specific case after it has been filed with the court.
SUIT
A legal action or proceeding.
SUM CERTAIN
Liquidated damages pursuant to contract, promissory note, law, etc.
SUMMARY JUDGMENT
The granting of a judgment on papers alone, without a trial or hearing.
SUMMONS
A form used to commence a civil action and acquire jurisdiction over a party.
SURETY
One who is legally liable for the debt, default, or failure to carry out a duty of another.

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THIRD-PARTY ACTION
A claim asserted by a defendant, styled a third-party plaintiff, against a person, styled a third-party defendant.
TRIAL DE NOVO
A new trial (see: 22NYCRR 28.12), specifically when a party is not satisfied with an ARBITRATOR's AWARD. (compare with DE NOVO REVIEW, above).
TORT
A wrongful act or breach of legal duty resulting in damages, not founded on contract.

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UNDERTAKING
Deposit of a sum of money or filing of a bond in court.

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VENUE
1. Geographical place where some legal matter occurs or may be determined.
2. The geographical area within which a court has jurisdiction. It relates only to a place or territory within which either party may require a case to be tried. A defect in venue may be waived by the parties.
VERIFICATION
A signature before a notary public or other officer authorized to administer an oath, attesting to the accuracy or truth of an allegation or statement (CPLR 3020).

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