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Glossary of Legal Terms


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Select the first letter of the word from the list above to jump to appropriate section of the glossary.

- M -

 

Magistrate (See U.S. Magistrate Judge.) - Judicial officer exercising some of the functions of a judge. It also refers in a general way to a judge.

Malfeasance - The commission of an unlawful act.

Malicious prosecution - An action instituted with intention of injuring the defendant and without probable cause, and which terminates in favour of the person prosecuted.

Malpractice - Any professional misconduct.

Manslaughter - The unlawful killing of another without intent to kill; either voluntary (upon a sudden impulse); or involuntary (during the commission of an unlawful act not ordinarily expected to result in great bodily harm). (See also murder.)

Marshal - The executive officer of the federal court.

Martindale-Hubbell Law - A publication of several volumes which contains names, addresses, Director specialties, and rating of United States lawyers; also includes digests of state and foreign statutory law.

Mediation - A form of alternative dispute resolution in which the parties bring their dispute to a neutral third party, who helps them agree on a settlement.

Memorandum - An informal note or instrument embodying something the parties desire to have in written evidence.

Memorialized - In writing.

Merger - The absorption of one thing or right into another.

Minor - A person under the age of legal competence.

Minute book - A book maintained by the courtroom deputy (bailiff), which contains minute entries of all hearings and trial conducted by the judge.

Minutes - Memorandum of a transaction or proceeding.

Miranda warning - Requirement that police tell a suspect in their custody of his or her constitutional rights before they question him or her. So named as a result of the Miranda v. Arizona ruling by the United States Supreme Court.

Misdemeanor - A criminal offence lesser than a felony and generally punishable by fine or by imprisonment other than in a penitentiary.

Misfeasance - Improper performance of an act which a person might lawfully do.

Mistrial - An invalid trial, caused by fundamental error. When a mistrial is declared, the trial must start again from the selection of the jury.

Mitigating circumstances - Those which do not constitute a justification or excuse for an offence but which may be considered as reasons for reducing the degree of blame.

Mittimus - The name of an order in writing, issuing from a court and directing the sheriff or other officer to convey a person to a prison, asylum, or reformatory, and directing the jailer or other appropriate official to receive and safely keep the person until his or her fate shall be determined by due course of law.

Mitigation - A reduction, abatement, or diminution of a penalty or punishment imposed by law.

Moot - A moot case or a moot point is one not subject to a judicial determination because it involves an abstract question or a pretended controversy that has not yet actually arisen or has already passed. Mootness usually refers to a court's refusal to consider a case because the issue involved has been resolved prior to the court's decision, leaving nothing that would be affected by the court's decision.

Motion - An application made to a court or judge which requests a ruling or order in favour of the applicant.

Motion in Limine - A motion made by counsel requesting that information which might be prejudicial not be allowed to be heard in a case.

Murder - The unlawful killing of a human being with deliberate intent to kill: (1) murder in the first degree is characterized by premeditation; (2) murder in the second degree is characterized by a sudden and instantaneous intent to kill or to cause injury without caring whether the injury kills or not.

Mutual assent - A meeting of the minds; agreement.

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 - N -

 

National Labor Relations Board. (NLRB) - A federal agency which prevents and remedies unfair labour practices by employers and labour organizations

Naturalization - Process by which a person acquires nationality after birth and becomes entitled to privileges of citizenship.

Negligence - Failure to use care which a reasonable and prudent person would use under similar circumstances.

Negotiation - The process of submission and consideration of offers until an acceptable offer is made and accepted.

Next friend - One acting without formal appointment as guardian for the benefit of an infant, a person of unsound mind not judicially declared incompetent, or other person under some disability.

No Bill - This phrase, endorsed by a grand jury on the written indictment submitted to it for its approval, means that the evidence was found insufficient to indict.

No-contest Clause - Language in a will that provides that a person who makes a legal challenge to the will's validity will be disinherited.

No-fault Proceedings - A civil case in which parties may resolve their dispute without a formal finding of error or fault.

Noise Control Act - A act which gives government agencies the right to promulgate standards and regulations relating to abatement of noise emissions, i.e., requirement that autos and like vehicles must have mufflers.

Nonfeasance - Non-performance of an act which should be performed; omission to perform a required duty or total neglect of duty.

Nonjury trial - Trial before the court but without a jury.

Notary Public - A public officer whose function it is to administer oaths, to attest and certify documents, and to take acknowledgments.

Notice - Formal notification to the party that has been sued in a civil case of the fact that the lawsuit has been filed. Also, any form of notification of a legal proceeding.

Notice to creditors - A notice given by the bankruptcy court to all creditors of a meeting of creditors.

Nuncupative will - An oral (unwritten) will.

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