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Court glossary terms: D-F

Learn important glossary terms when it comes to your court matters.
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D

DA - See DISTRICT ATTORNEY.

DAMAGES - Money paid to a person who has been injured or damaged by the actions of another person.

DANGEROUSNESS HEARING - Normally, a criminal defendant has the right to have bail set and to be free until the charges against him or her are resolved by the court. The purpose of bail is to ensure that the defendant appear in court for any future proceedings in the case. If a prosecutor believes that a person charged with a crime is too dangerous to be set free while the charges are pending, he or she can request a hearing and move to hold the defendant without bail or release the defendant only on certain conditions (e.g., ankle bracelet, curfew, etc.) Pretrial detention or release on conditions is permitted only if the defendant is charged with a serious crimes, such as a felony that involved the use or attempted or threatened use of physical force; a domestic violence offense; a drug offense with a mandatory minimum sentence of three or more years in prison; intimidation of a witness; and certain repeat motor vehicle offenses. Also known as a "58A" hearing after the statute authorizing this procedure.

DCF - See DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.

DEATH CERTIFICATE - The official document, with a raised seal, prepared by the city or town where the decedent lived, recording the facts of death.

DE NOVO - Latin for "anew." To start over from the beginning. For example, a trial de novo is a new trial, usually either (1) ordered by an appellate court in a case where the trial was so flawed that the damage cannot be corrected or (2) on appeal from a decision by a clerk-magistrate to a judge, as in a CMVI or small claims case.

DECEDENT - A person who has died.

DECEDENT'S ESTATE - Property that was owned by a person at the time of his or her death.

DECLARATORY JUDGMENT - A judgment of a court determining the rights of the parties or giving the court's opinion on a legal point, without ordering that anything be done. A declaratory judgment is usually requested before the happening of (and to prevent) a specific act which could result in a claim for damages.

DECREE - A court judgment.

DEED - A document signed by the owner (the grantor) of real estate, transferring title to or ownership of the property to another (the grantee).

DEFAMATION - The deliberate and malicious injury of the reputation of another person. Defamation can be civil or criminal. Defamation in writing is called libel; oral defamation is called slander. See LIBELSLANDER.

DEFAULT - The failure to do what is required to be done; e.g., when a defendant in a civil case does not file an answer as required, or when a defendant in a criminal case fails to appear for a hearing in the case when required to do so.

DEFAULT JUDGMENT - A judgment entered for the plaintiff in a civil case without hearing from the defendant because the defendant has failed to do what he or she was supposed to do, such as file an answer.

DEFAULT WARRANT - A warrant for the arrest of a defendant who has failed to appear for a hearing in a criminal case. See CAPIAS.

DEFENDANT - 

  1. In civil cases: the person against whom a lawsuit is brought.
  2. In criminal cases: the person against whom a criminal charge is brought.

DEFENSE ATTORNEY - The attorney representing the defendant in either a civil or a criminal case.

DELIBERATE (v.), DELIBERATION (n.) -

  1. In criminal cases: The weighing of evidence by a jury to determine whether a defendant is guilty.
  2. In civil cases: The weighing of evidence by a jury to determine whether a defendant is liable and, if so, what damages are appropriate.

DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS - Proceedings to decide whether a child between the ages of seven and eighteen violated a law of the Commonwealth or a city ordinance or town bylaw. Delinquency proceedings are usually conducted by the Juvenile Court Department or, in a few instances, by the District Court Department. A juvenile has all of the legal and procedural protections that an adult would have if charged with the same offense. However, juvenile delinquency proceedings are private and sentencing varies from that in adult proceedings.

DENIAL -

  1. The refusal of a court to grant a request presented in a petition or motion.
  2. In pleadings, an assertion that the allegations of the opposing party are untrue.

DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF) - The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for protecting minors from abuse and/or neglect. DCF has the authority to remove children from a home immediately if it believes they are in danger and can ask the Juvenile Court Department or District Court Department for custody of children in a care and protection proceeding. DCF can also seek to terminate parental rights and begin adoption proceedings in the Juvenile Court Department or the Probate and Family Court Department. DCF also operates the foster care system. Formerly known as the Department of Social Services (DSS).

DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION (DOC) - The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for the operation of the state prison system.

DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES (DDS) - The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for establishing standards and procedures for the reception, examination, treatment, restraint, transfer and discharge of persons who, because of inadequately developed or impaired intelligence, are substantially limited in their ability to learn or adapt. Formerly known as the Department of Mental Retardation (DMR).

DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH (DMH) - The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for setting the standards for the operation of mental health facilities and community residential programs and for providing clinical, rehabilitative and supportive services for adults with serious mental illness, and children and adolescents with serious mental illness or serious emotional disturbance.

DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL RETARDATION (DMR) See DEPARTMENT OF DEVELOPMENTAL SERVICES.

DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE (DOR) - The Massachusetts administrative agency empowered to collect taxes and to aid in the collection of child support through its Child Support Enforcement Division.

DEPARTMENT OF SOCIAL SERVICES (DSS) - See DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES (DCF).

DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH SERVICES (DYS) The Massachusetts administrative agency responsible for providing delinquency prevention services and other services to delinquent children and youths referred to the DYS by the court, including operating detention facilities for delinquent minors.

DEPONENT - A person who answers questions under oath during a deposition.

DEPOSITION - A method of pretrial discovery in civil cases. During a deposition, the deponent is questioned under oath. Most depositions are taken without court supervision; the deponent is usually questioned by an attorney for one of the parties. A transcript or videotape, or both, is made of the deposition. The transcript or videotape may be used to support various pretrial motions, or may be admitted into evidence at trial in cases where the deponent is unable to be present in court. Depositions may also be used to impeach the testimony of a witness at trial.

DEPUTY COURT ADMINISTRATOR - Each Department of the Trial Court has a Deputy Court Administrator who works with the Chief Justice of the Department and the Court Administrator to manage that Department.

DESCENT - The passing of ownership of an estate by inheritance rather than by purchase.

  1. Lineal descent: Descent in a direct line, as from grandfather or grandmother, to father or mother, to son or daughter, etc.
  2. Collateral descent: Descent in a collateral or oblique line; that is, up to the common ancestor and then down from him or her, as from brother to brother, or between cousins.

DEVISE -

  1. (v.) To give real estate in a will.
  2. (n.) A gift of real estate made in a will.

DEVISEE - A person given real estate under a will.

DICTUM/DICTA - Discussion in a court opinion that is not strictly necessary to support or justify the result. The appellate court and lower courts are bound by the appellate court's decision but are free to disregard the discussion in subsequent cases.

DILATORY MOTION - A motion made for the purpose of delaying the proceedings.

DIRECT EXAMINATION - The questioning of a witness at trial by the party who called the witness. See CROSS EXAMINATION.

DIRECTED VERDICT -

  1. In civil jury trials: After all of the plaintiff's evidence has been presented, if there is not enough evidence to support the plaintiff's claim, the judge may grant the defendant's motion to take the case out of the hands of the jury and enter a judgment ("direct a verdict") against the plaintiff.
  2. In criminal jury trials: At the conclusion of the Commonwealth's case or of an entire criminal jury trial, if the District Attorney has not presented enough evidence to convict the defendant, the judge may grant the defendant's motion to take the case out of the hands of the jury and enter a judgment ("direct a verdict") of not guilty. Only the defendant may move for a directed verdict in a criminal case.

DISAPPEARED PERSON - A person who has been absent from his or her residence; whose whereabouts are unknown by the person most likely to know where he or she is; and who has not communicated with that person for at least seven continuous years. Also known as an "absentee."

DISBARMENT - Removal of a lawyer's authorization to practice law because of professional misconduct or incompetence.

DISCOVERY - The process of gathering and preserving evidence prior to trial. Methods of discovery include depositions, interrogatories, requests for admissions and production of documents, as provided for in the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

DISCRETION The freedom to decide what should be done in a particular situation. Discretionary authority is not totally without limits; it is bound by rules and principles of law. However a judge’s decision in a matter of discretion will not be overturned by an appellate court unless his or her discretion has been exercised in an “arbitrary or capricious” way.

DISINTERESTED PARTY - A person who has nothing to gain or lose in the outcome of an action or proceeding.

DISMISS - To order a case or prosecution to be terminated; to refuse to hear it further.

DISMISSAL - An order or judgment deciding a case in favor of the defendant by terminating it without a trial. A dismissal "with prejudice" forever prevents the plaintiff in a civil case or the government in a criminal case from bringing a new case on the same claim or criminal allegations; a dismissal "without prejudice" disposes of the particular case before the court but a new case may be brought in the future based on the same claim or criminal allegations.

DISPOSITION - The outcome of a case, whether by dismissal, plea and sentence, settlement, verdict or judgment.

DISPUTE RESOLUTION SERVICE - One of a number of processes in which a neutral person is engaged to assist in the process of settling or otherwise disposing of a case without a trial. When the service is provided as a result of referral by a court, it is called "Court-Connected Dispute Resolution Service." See ALTERNATIVE DISPUTE RESOLUTION.

DISQUALIFICATION -

  1. Anything which may interfere with or appear to interfere with the ability of a judge to decide a case in a fair and impartial manner may disqualify the judge from hearing the case. Disqualification may be sua sponte (the judge disqualifies him- or herself) or a party to the case may move to disqualify the judge. Also referred to as "recusal."
  2. In contrast to a privilege, people in some kinds of relationships, such as that of husband and wife, are disqualified by law from testifying against each other in certain circumstances and regarding certain private conversations, even if both people in the relationship want the testimony admitted in the case, simply due to the nature of the relationship itself.

DISSENTING OPINION - In a case being heard by a panel of appellate judges, a written opinion explaining why a judge disagrees with the final decision of the majority of the panel.

DISTINGUISH - In a legal opinion or brief, to explain why the holding in a previously-issued opinion does not apply in the case under consideration. This is often because of a significant difference between the facts before the court and the facts in the case in which the previous holding was issued. See HOLDING.

DISTRIBUTEE - Any person who has received property of a decedent from the decedent’s personal representative other than as a creditor or purchaser.

DISTRICT ATTORNEY - In Massachusetts, an elected public officer who prosecutes criminal cases on behalf of the Commonwealth. Each county has its own District Attorney. Also referred to as the "DA", the "prosecutor" or “the Commonwealth.” Most cases are actually tried by Assistant District Attorneys, or ADAs, who may also be referred to as the “DA", the “prosecutor” or the “Commonwealth."

DISTRICT COURT - Judges of the District Court Department of the Trial Court hear criminal, civil, housing, juvenile, mental health and other types of cases, including all misdemeanors; felonies punishable by up to five years in state prison and some more serious felonies; all violations of city and town ordinances; juvenile matters in parts of the state not yet served by a division of the Juvenile Court; tort and contract cases; small claims cases; civil motor vehicle infractions; inquests; mental health and substance abuse commitments; 209A restraining orders; eviction cases (concurrently with the Housing Court Department) and other proceedings. Each division of the District Court handles cases from the specific group of cities and towns that the legislature has designated as falling within that court's jurisdiction. The District Court Department operates in everywhere in the Commonwealth except Suffolk County, where the Boston Municipal Court Department handles the same types of cases (though the Suffolk County cities of Chelsea and Revere are served by the Chelsea District Court.)

DIVERSION PROGRAM - A program that removes criminal offenders from official processing to a less formal, less adversarial, more community-based setting.

DIVISION - The geographical or political unit within which a court has venue or personal jurisdiction over the parties. For example, the Probate and Family Court and the Superior Court Departments each have fourteen Divisions, one for each county in the Commonwealth. The District Court Department has sixty-two divisions, each covering a specific geographic area. The Housing Court Department has five divisions; the Boston Municipal Court Department has eight divisions; the Juvenile Court Department has eleven divisions; and the Land Court department has one division. In addition to each of the divisions within a court department, some departments hear cases and/or provide other services at additional sites for the convenience of the public.

DIVISION OF ASSETS - A judgment which divides marital property in connection with a divorce.

DIVORCE - The legal termination of a marriage.

DOC - See DEPARTMENT OF CORRECTION.

DOCKET - A written list of all important events in connection with a case, properly called the "case docket." "Docket" is often improperly used to refer to the court's calendar.

DOMESTIC ABUSE - See DOMESTIC VIOLENCE.

DOMESTIC RELATIONS ACTION OR CASE - A legal action or case involving family issues such as divorce, annulment, paternity, child support, spousal support, custody of a minor, or visitation.

DOMESTIC RELATIONS PROTECTIVE ORDER (DRPO) - A restraining order in a domestic relations matter, issued pursuant to G.L. c. 208, ''18, 34(b); c. 209, '32; or c. 209C, ''15, 20. Similar to a 209A restraining order.

DOMESTIC VIOLENCE - A pattern of sexual, physical, emotional and/or financial abuse, perpetrated with the intent to establish and maintain control over an intimate partner or family member. Domestic abuse may include both criminal and non-criminal acts, such as emotional abuse, physical violence, threatening, stalking, destroying property, or attacking pets. The abuse may be directed at people other than the intimate partner (e.g., children) for the purpose of controlling the partner. Also referred to as "domestic abuse," "intimate partner violence," or "battering."

DOMICILE - A person's legal home; the permanent home to which a person, when absent, intends to return; the place the law recognizes as someone's legal residence for tax and other purposes.

DOR - See DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE.

DOUBLE JEOPARDY - The unconstitutional practice of putting a person at risk of being convicted and sentenced more than once for the same criminal offense.

DSS - See DEPARTMENT OF CHILDREN AND FAMILIES.

DUCES TECUM - Latin for "bring with you." On a subpoena, it means that the person subpoenaed must bring records or other specified material into court or to a deposition.

DUE PROCESS (OF LAW) - The fundamental rules that guarantee "fair play" in the conduct of legal proceedings, such as the right to meaningful notice and a hearing, the right to an impartial judge and jury, the right to present evidence on your own behalf, the right to confront your accuser, the right to be represented by an attorney, etc. The 5th and 6th Amendments to the United States Constitution guarantee due process.

DURABLE POWER OF ATTORNEY - See POWER OF ATTORNEY.

DYS - See DEPARTMENT OF YOUTH SERVICES.

E

EASEMENT - The right to use another's land for a specific limited purpose. For example, an easement may allow one landowner the right to cross the property of another to get access to a road, or allow a utility to lay lines on someone's private property. Easements are usually described in a deed or other document.

EMANCIPATION - The process by which an individual who is under the power and control of another is rendered free of the other's control. Most commonly refers to minors being emancipated from the custody of their parents and treated as adults.

EMINENT DOMAIN - The right of the state, including a subdivision of the state like a city or a town, to take private property for public use. Under the 5th Amendment to the US Constitution and Article X of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, any taking of private property by the state requires adequate compensation to the owners of the property.

EN BANC - French for "full bench." An appellate court sits en banc when all justices of that court hear and decide a particular case. The current policy of the Supreme Judicial Court is to sit en banc (with all seven justices attending) for all cases except murder appeals, which are heard by panels of five justices. The minimum number of justices required to sit to hear an appeal is four.

ENJOIN - To forbid or restrain.

EQUAL PROTECTION OF THE LAW - The 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that "no person or class of persons shall be denied the same protection of the laws which is enjoyed by other persons or other classes in like circumstances in their lives, liberty, property, and in their pursuit of happiness." Black's Law Dictionary, 6th Ed. In other words, the law must treat similarly all people who are in similar circumstances.

EQUITY -

  1. The value of property minus the total liens and encumbrances.
  2. A system of legal principles and remedies in civil cases that originated in England and survives in the modern U.S. Historically, there were two distinct courts in England - courts of law and courts of equity. Courts of law could award monetary damages in civil cases, but could give no other relief to lessen the harshness of a law in a particular situation or to prevent unjust enrichment. A party seeking relief other than monetary damages had to turn to a court of equity, which could grant non-monetary relief, such as injunctions, divorces, relief from creditors in bankruptcy, etc. There are no longer separate courts of law and equity and equitable relief is available, to a greater or lesser extent, in all Massachusetts courts. However, injunctions are still generally considered to be granted "in equity," while damages are considered remedies "at law." Different legal principles still apply to law and equity actions, and a few procedural distinctions survive, most notably the absence of a right to a jury trial in cases seeking solely equitable relief.

ESCHEAT - The transfer of a decedent's estate to the State when a person dies leaving no heirs.

ESTATE - 

  1. The interest a person has in real estate or personal property. For example, property that was owned by a person who has died is referred to as a decedent's estate. Property held in trust for the benefit of another is a trust estate. The property of a person or corporation that has declared bankruptcy is an estate in bankruptcy or bankrupt estate.
  2. The property of a decedent, trust, or other person whose affairs are subject to the Uniform Probate Code.

ESTOPPEL - The rule that a litigant may not make a claim or take a position which is inconsistent with his or her prior conduct, claim or position. For example, a person claiming the right to sell a piece of land cannot later claim a lack of authority to sell that land in a subsequent lawsuit.

EVICTION The process by which a tenancy is terminated by a landlord and the tenant removed from rental property.

EVIDENCE - Testimony, documents, physical objects, etc., accepted by a court for the purpose of proving or disproving facts relevant to a case.

EVIDENTIARY HEARING - A hearing at which evidence is presented, as opposed to a hearing at which only matters of law are addressed.

EX PARTE - Latin for "one side only." Involving only one party to a case, without prior notice to any other party. Ex parteactions are generally allowed only in emergency situations.

  1. Ex Parte Communication: A communication between the court and one party to a case, made without prior notice to any other party.
  2. Ex Parte Injunction: An injunction issued upon the request of one party to a case, without prior notice to any other party.
  3. Ex Parte Motion: A motion made to the court by one party to a case without prior notice to any other party.
  4. Ex Parte Order: A temporary order made by the court without notice to the other side. An ex parte order is typically valid until the other side has an opportunity to appear before the court. In Massachusetts, ex parte orders are most commonly issued to prevent domestic violence under c. 209A, in which case the order is normally valid for up to ten days, until the defendant receives notice of the order and has the opportunity to be heard.

EX POST FACTO - Latin for "after the fact." An ex post facto law makes an act criminal retroactively and is unconstitutional under both the U.S. and the Massachusetts Constitutions because it inflicts punishment for acts that were not illegal when committed.

EXAMINE - In court, to question a witness.

EXCLUSIVE JURISDICTION - The power of a court over an action or person to the exclusion of all other courts.

EXCULPATORY EVIDENCE - Evidence tending to prove that a defendant is not guilty or not liable as charged or alleged.

EXECUTE - To carry out, complete or dispose of according to law.

EXECUTION - The legal paper that allows one to enforce a judgment.

  1. An order issued by the court to authorize a process-server to seize or take possession of real or personal property to be sold to pay a judgment.
  2. The carrying out of some act or course of conduct to its completion. For example, execution of a civil judgment is the carrying out of the final judgment of the court by obtaining possession of that which the judgment has awarded.

EXECUTION OF AN INSTRUMENT - The signing, sealing and delivery of a written instrument or document.

EXECUTION OF A SENTENCE - The carrying out of the sentence or punishment ordered by the court in a criminal case.

EXECUTIVE BRANCH - That branch of state government, including the Governor, responsible for executing the law and carrying out public policy.

EXECUTIVE COUNCIL - See GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL.

EXECUTIVE OFFICE OF THE TRIAL COURT (EOTC) - The EOTC includes the Chief Justice of the Trial Court and the Court Administrator and their staff, the Legal Department, the Judicial Institute, and the Department of Research & Planning. See CHIEF JUSTICE OF THE TRIAL COURT, COURT ADMINISTRATOR, OFFICE OF COURT MANAGEMENT.

EXECUTOR (MALE), EXECUTRIX (FEMALE) - In probate law prior to the adoption of the Uniform Probate Code in Massachusetts, a person named in a will to carry out its terms, that is, to execute the will. Now this person is called a "personal representative."

EXHAUSTION OF REMEDIES - The rule that a party can not appeal the decision of a lower court or an administrative agency to a higher authority until the party has used all of the procedures available in the lower court or agency to obtain the relief desired.

EXHIBIT - A document, object, or other material admitted as evidence during a trial or hearing.

EXONERATE - To free from suspicion; to show someone to be free of guilt.

EXPERT WITNESS - A witness who has special knowledge and qualifications in a particular subject area. Whether a witness is actually an expert, so that his or her testimony is admissible as evidence, is a complex issue that is determined by the judge.

EXPUNGE - To destroy or obliterate records, including criminal records, in files of any type, including computer files. Records that have been expunged are treated as if they never existed. See SEALED RECORD OR FILE.

EXTRADITION - The formal process of delivering a person found in one jurisdiction to the authorities of another jurisdiction where that person has been accused or convicted of a crime. Also known as "rendition."

EXTRAORDINARY MEDICAL TREATMENT - Highly intrusive medical treatment.

F

FAMILY SERVICE OFFICER - See PROBATION OFFICER.

FAULT - Responsibility, such as being at fault in a car crash (which may result in an insurance surcharge) or in a divorce. See GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE, NO FAULT DIVORCE.

FEE-GENERATING APPOINTMENT - An appointment by a court that will generate a fee for the person appointed, paid either by the court or by the party involved, such as an appointment as guardian ad litem.

FELONY - Any crime punishable by imprisonment in a state prison, even if the specific statute allows for an alternative sentence to a House of Correction. Only the Superior Court Department has the authority to order imprisonment in a state prison. The District Court Department has the jurisdiction to hear certain felony cases (those punishable by a maximum of five years or less in state prison and those listed in G.L. c. 218, '26), but only has authority to sentence a defendant to a maximum of two and a half years in a House of Correction. The Superior Court Department has jurisdiction over all other felony cases. The District Attorney decides in which court to bring a case.

FID CARD - See FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION CARD.

FIDUCIARY - A person or institution responsible for managing money or property for the benefit of another. A fiduciary is held to a high standard of care in carrying out this responsibility. Examples of fiduciaries include personal representatives, administrators, conservators, executors, guardians and trustees.

FILE (v.) - The act of submitting the legal documents pertaining to a suit to the Clerk-Magistrate, Recorder or Register of the court.

FILE, FILING (n.) - An original document submitted to the court may be referred to as a "filing" and the entire collection of documents in a case as the "case file."

FILING FEE - Money which must be paid to the office of the Clerk-Magistrate, Recorder or Register at the time a civil action is filed. In most cases, the fee can be waived for people who are indigent.

FINAL ACCOUNT - A final report of the assets, disposition of assets and liabilities of an estate, after all distributions have been made. Once the final account is submitted to the court, the court then enters a decree approving the distribution.

FINAL DECREE - A decree settling all pending issues in a case. See JUDGMENT.

FINANCIAL STATEMENT - A form summarizing a party's income and expenses, assets, liabilities and health insurance, signed by the party under the penalties of perjury and certified by an attorney, if the party is represented by an attorney.

FIREARMS IDENTIFICATION CARD - A card issued by the chief of police in the holder's hometown authorizing the holder to own and possess firearms. Often referred to as an "FID card."

FIRST JUSTICE - The judge designated to assume administrative responsibilities within a division of a court.

FIRST SESSION - A court session that handles the initial steps in cases, administrative matters and/or emergencies. For example, a first session in the Probate and Family Court Department may handle emergency and ex parte matters, 209A cases, etc. A first session in the District Court Department may handle arraignments, calling of the list, referral of cases to other sessions, walk-in emergencies such as commitments for mental illness and 209A orders, etc.

FKA - "Formerly Known As."

FLAT OR FIXED FEE - A type of attorney's fee that often applies to routine legal matters such as a simple will or an uncontested divorce. The total amount of the fee is set at the beginning of the case, regardless of how much time the attorney ends up spending on it. There may be costs in addition to the flat or fixed fee, sometimes referred to as "out-of-pocket expenses."

FORECLOSURE - See MORTGAGE.

FOREIGN JUDGMENT - A judgment issued by a non-Massachusetts court.

FOREIGN PERSONAL REPRESENTATIVE - A personal representative appointed by a non-Massachusetts court.

FOREIGN SUPPORT ORDER - A support order issued by a non-Massachusetts court.

FOREIGN WILL - The will of a decedent whose residence is outside Massachusetts.

FORFEIT (v.), FORFEITURE (n.) - Property which is lost because of the owner has committed a crime (e.g., the pension of a public employee convicted of a crime, or a house purchased with the proceeds of a crime) or its use in the commission of a crime, such as a car or other equipment.

FORUM - A court or the jurisdiction where a court sits.

FORUM NON CONVENIENS - Latin for "inconvenient forum." A legal doctrine allowing a court to refuse to exercise its jurisdiction in a case because the convenience of the parties and/or the interests of justice would be better served if the case were tried in another court.

FOSTER CARE REVIEW - A periodic review by a Foster Care Review Panel to consider the necessity and appropriateness of services provided to a child in the legal custody of the Department of Children and Families and to the child's family, and to determine whether the tasks outlined in the service plan for the parents, child, and Department of Children and Families social worker have been fulfilled.

FOSTER CARE REVIEW PANEL - A panel conducting foster care reviews under the auspices of the Department of Children and Families' Independent Foster Care Review Unit.

FOSTER HOME - A home licensed by the Department of Children and Families for the temporary board and care of abused, neglected or delinquent children.

FRAUD - The intentional communication of an untruth for the purpose of deceiving others in order to deprive them of property, induce them to give up a legal right or injure them in some other way.

FUGITIVE - Someone who flees in an attempt to evade the consequences of a crime.

FULL FAITH AND CREDIT - A court's constitutional obligation to recognize and enforce orders, decrees, legislative acts, public records and judgments issued by the courts of other U.S. jurisdictions.

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