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Court glossary terms: G-L

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

Table of Contents

G

GL - See MASSACHUSETTS GENERAL LAWS.

GARNISHMENT - A court order to take part of a debtor's wages or other money before the debtor receives the money to pay an unpaid judgment obtained by a creditor. In many cases, the creditor is a custodial parent seeking child support from a non-custodial parent. Also referred to as a "wage assignment."

GENERAL COURT - The constitutional title of the State Legislature, consisting of the Senate (40 elected members) and the House of Representatives (160 elected members).

GENETIC MARKER TEST - A scientific test, commonly done on a sample of cells swabbed from the inside of the cheek. A genetic marker test is often used to examine the genetic similarities between a child, the child's mother and the alleged father of the child, to help the court determine paternity.

GOVERNOR - The elected chief executive of the executive branch of state government. The Lieutenant Governor acts as the Governor upon the Governor's death, resignation, removal from office or absence from the Commonwealth. In such circumstances, the Lieutenant Governor is referred to as the Acting Governor.

GOVERNOR'S COUNCIL - Eight councilors elected by districts to advise the Governor in the performance of certain executive functions. The Council's two major powers at present are to approve (or reject) the Governor's appointments for judgeships and certain court clerkships and the Governor's recommendations for pardons or for the commutation of sentences. Also known as the Executive Council.

GOVERNOR'S WARRANT - A warrant issued by one state authorizing another state to take into custody a person who has fled from the issuing state to avoid prosecution or punishment for a crime.

GRAND JURY - A group of citizens that hears evidence relating to criminal complaints and accusations. The evidence is presented secretly, by the prosecutor alone; the defense does not get an opportunity to present its side of the story. The grand jury issues an indictment if satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that a crime was committed, and that the accused committed that crime. At full strength, a grand jury has twenty-three members. Thirteen members must be present for the grand jury to act and twelve votes are necessary to return an indictment.

GRANDPARENT VISITATION - The court-ordered right of grandparents to visit a grandchild whose custodial parent is not their son or daughter.

GRANT -

  1. To transfer property to another, especially real estate.
  2. To allow a motion or award the relief sought by a party.

GRANTEE - The person to whom a grant is made; i.e., the person who receives or buys title to real estate by deed.

GRANTOR - The person who makes a grant; i.e., the person who gives or sells title to real estate by deed.

GROUNDS FOR DIVORCE - In Massachusetts, the statutory fault grounds for divorce are adultery, impotency, utter desertion, gross and confirmed habits of intoxication, cruel and abusive treatment, prison sentence of five (5) or more years, and nonsupport.

GROUP HOME - A home licensed by the Office for Child Care Services for the temporary board and care of a group of children; by the Department of Mental Health for the board and care of mentally ill people; by the Department of Mental Retardation for mentally retarded people; or by the Department of Youth Services for delinquent children.

GUARANTOR - A person who is liable to fulfill another person's financial obligation in the event the other person fails to fulfill it. The other person is known as the principal.

GUARDIAN - A person with the legal duty and power to care for a minor or for a person who is legally incapacitated by reason of mental retardation, mental illness or physical incapacity. A guardian may be appointed by a court or designated in a will, though a guardian designated in a will must still be appointed by the court.

GUARDIAN AD LITEM - A guardian "for the suit" (Latin), appointed by the court to promote and protect the interests of a person affected by the litigation. Examples:

  1. A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the interests of a minor or incompetent person who is a defendant in a civil action, or who is a party to or affected by a domestic relations or juvenile court proceeding.
  2. A guardian ad litem may be appointed to represent the interests of any person in any proceeding in the Probate and Family Court. Sometimes a court appoints a guardian ad litem to protect the interests of an unascertained, unknown, unborn, or disappeared person.
  3. A guardian ad litem may be appointed by a court to investigate some aspect of the facts of a case related to a minor or incompetent person and to report back to the court regarding the results of the investigation.

GUILTY - Legally responsible for a crime.

H

HABEAS CORPUS - Latin for "you have the body." One of the fundamental protections of individual liberties in Anglo-American law, a writ of habeas corpus is used to bring a person who is in the custody of the state before a court or judge. It commands the sheriff or other person to produce the detainee in court so that the court may determine whether that person is being held legally.

HABEAS CORPUS AD RESPONDENUM - Latin for "you have the body to respond." A writ used to bring a prisoner from prison to court to appear as a defendant in a civil trial in another case.

HABEAS CORPUS AD TESTIFICANDUM - Latin for "you have the body to testify." A writ used to bring a prisoner from prison to court to testify in another case.

HABE - A slang verb referring to the use of a writ of habeas corpus to bring a prisoner into court. The person produced is said to have been "habed" into court.

HARMLESS ERROR - An error committed in the course of a trial that does not justify reversal of the verdict on appeal.

HEALTHCARE PROXY - A written instrument signed by one person giving another person authority to make decisions relating to healthcare in the event the person signing becomes unable to make his or her own decisions.

HEARING - A formal proceeding that is much the same as a trial and may result in the issuance of a final order.

HEARSAY EVIDENCE - Testimony in court about a statement made outside of court, offered to prove the truth of the matter asserted in the statement. Hearsay is generally inadmissible, although there are numerous exceptions to the rule against hearsay.

HEIR - A person who under law would inherit from an estate if the decedent did not leave a will. A person has no heir(s) until his or her death. A surviving spouse is an heir and his or her rights are superior to those of any other heirs.

HOLDING - The legally binding conclusions in an opinion or ruling that are necessary to decide the issue under consideration. Unlike dicta, the holding cannot be disregarded in future cases (except by the same or a higher court, which can but rarely does reverse a holding), and must be followed by lower courts. See DISTINGUISH, PRECEDENT.

HOLOGRAPHIC WILL - An unwitnessed will with the portions describing how the property is to be distributed are in the handwriting of the decedent, signed and dated by the decedent.

HOMESTEAD - A declaration filed with the Registry of Deeds by the owner of land that protects the residence, land and buildings named from the claims of creditors, who cannot force the sale of the property to satisfy the owner's debts.

HOSTILE WITNESS - A witness who exhibits such antagonism toward the party who called him or her to testify that the court allows the calling party to conduct cross-examination of the witness. Normally, a party is only allowed to do direct examination of that party’s own witnesses and the opposing party does cross-examination.

HOURLY FEE - A form of attorney's fee arrangement with a client in which the lawyer charges by the hour. The hourly rate varies from lawyer to lawyer.

HOUSE OF CORRECTION - A county detention facility administered by a sheriff which holds criminal defendants and people convicted of crimes. In most counties, the county jail and the house of correction are the same facility. Pre-trial detainees (defendants who are not granted bail or are not able to post bail while they await trial on the charges against them), material witnesses and people committed for contempt of court are housed at the jail. People who are convicted of a misdemeanor or are convicted of a felony in the District Court Department serve their sentences in the House of Correction.

HOUSING COURT DEPARTMENT - One of the seven Trial Court Departments in the Commonwealth. There are five divisions of the Housing Court Department, all of which have concurrent jurisdiction with both the District Court Department and the Superior Court Department to hear cases involving the use of real estate and activities that affect the health, welfare and safety of any resident, occupant, user or member of the public, including eviction cases and cases seeking enforcement of building, health and sanitary codes.

HOUSING SPECIALIST An official of the Housing Court Department appointed to assist the judges of that department. Housing specialists must be knowledgeable in the maintenance, repair and rehabilitation of dwelling units, applicable state and federal laws, landlord/tenant problems and the availability of funding and services to resolve such problems. They also provide mediation services in some types of cases.

I

ICWA - See INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT.

ILLEGITIMATE CHILD - See OUT OF WEDLOCK.

IMPANEL - To select the members of a jury from a venire.

IMPEACH -

  1. To cast doubt on the credibility (believability or truthfulness) of a witness.
  2. To remove from public office in accordance with the Constitution, statutes, laws or other authority.

IMPEACHMENT - The constitutional procedure whereby the Senate, after impeachment (accusation) by the House of Representatives, may remove a state officer, including a judge, from office.

IMPLEAD - See THIRD PARTY COMPLAINT.

IMPOUND - To keep some or all of the papers, documents or exhibits in a case separate from the case file and unavailable to the public. Impoundment must be ordered by a judge and is normally allowed only on motion, and only if the moving party shows that allowing public access to the information in question would be harmful, but some material in some types of cases is automatically impounded.

IN CAMERA - Latin for "in chambers" or "in private."

  1. In camera examination: A judge's review of documents in the judge's chambers prior to issuing a ruling regarding their admissibility or use.
  2. In camera hearing: A hearing held in the judge's chambers or in the courtroom with the public excluded.

IN FORMA PAUPERIS - Latin for "in the form of a pauper." Permission given to an indigent person to proceed without paying any court costs or fees associated with a legal action or claim.

IN HAND - In some cases, a summons, subpoena or other document must literally be placed in the hand of the person to whom it is addressed in order to be properly served, referred to as "in hand" service of process.

IN PERSONAM JURISDICTION - See JURISDICTION.

IN REM - Latin for "regarding the thing." An in rem action is an action concerning title to property, usually real estate (as opposed to an action in personam or against a person.) Two elements are necessary to obtain in rem jurisdiction: (1) the property must be located in the Commonwealth and (2) adequate notice must be given to all parties having an interest in the property.

INADMISSIBLE - See ADMISSIBLE EVIDENCE.

INCAPACITATED PERSON (IP) - A minor or a person who is legally considered to be unable to care for themselves and who has been placed under the care of a guardian. Prior to the adoption of the Uniform Probate Code in Massachusetts, an incapacitated person was known as a ward.

INCARCERATION - Commitment to a detention facility such as a prison or house of correction.

INCOME WITHHOLDING - Child support or other court-ordered payments taken from the paycheck of the person required to make the payments (the “obligor”) by the employer and sent directly to the obligee (the person to whom the money is owed) by the employer. See WAGE ASSIGNMENT, GARNISHMENT.

INCOMPETENT EVIDENCE - Inadmissible evidence.

INCOMPETENT TO STAND TRIAL - See COMPETENT.

INCONVENIENT FORUM - See FORUM NON CONVENIENS.

INCULPATORY EVIDENCE - Evidence which tends to incriminate the accused or prove that the accused committed the offense or acts charged or alleged.

INDIAN CHILD WELFARE ACT (ICWA) - A federal law affecting care and protection proceedings and termination of parental rights cases involving Native American children who are members of or eligible to become members of a federally recognized Indian tribe. It places additional notice, procedural, and evidentiary requirements on the petitioner as well as the court in these cases.

INDICIA - Signs or indications of the existence of a fact. Facts that give rise to inferences. For example, some indicia of credibility might be the witness's demeanor, the consistency of his or her testimony, and whether there is any corroborating evidence of the fact in dispute. Similar to circumstantial evidence.

INDICTMENT - A formal accusation voted by a grand jury at the request of a prosecutor which charges a person with a crime. The grand jury indictment replaces the application for a complaint in felony cases. Also called a "true bill" (or a "no bill" if the grand jury fails to indict.)

INDIGENT - Impoverished; needy; poor; without funds. Many court fees are waived for people who are indigent and file an affidavit of indigency. In a criminal case, counsel is appointed for an indigent defendant.

INFERIOR COURT - Lower court. Any court subordinate to a higher appellate court in a particular judicial system.

INFRACTION - The violation of a statute, code or ordinance which is treated as a civil offense rather than a criminal offense and is punishable only by a fine.

INHERITANCE - Property received from someone who dies, whether through a will or as required by law if there is no will (called "intestate succession".)

INITIATIVE - A procedure begun the collection of signatures of a required number of voters in support of a petition to place on the ballot a question asking whether to enact a statute or to amend the state constitution.

INJUNCTION - An order requiring a person to do something or to stop doing something that threatens to cause or does cause irreparable injury to another. A preliminary injunction is granted while the case is going on to stop a party from doing or continuing to do some act until the rights of the parties are fully determined. A preliminary injunction may become permanent once the issues are adjudicated. A permanent injunction remains in force forever unless and until modified by a subsequent order of a court.

INNOCENT - A non-legal term indicating that a person did not commit a crime and bears no responsibility for the offense charged. In contrast, the legal term "not guilty" means that there is not enough admissible evidence to convict a person of the crime charged, regardless of whether he or she actually committed the crime. A "not guilty" verdict simply means that the prosecution failed to meet its legal burden of proof.

INQUEST - An evidentiary hearing presided over by a judge of the District Court Department inquiring into the manner of death of someone who has been killed or has died suddenly or under unusual circumstances. An inquest can be requested by the Attorney General or a District Attorney, or, less frequently, by the Medical Examiner. It may result in an indictment or take the place of an indictment if the court finds that a crime has been committed.

INSANITY - A defense to a criminal prosecution; a legal term, not a medical term. In Massachusetts, a person is not responsible for criminal conduct if at the time of that conduct, as a result of mental disease or defect, he or she lacks substantial capacity to appreciate the criminality of his or her conduct or to conform his or her conduct to the requirements of law.

INSTRUMENT - A formal written legal document, such as a contract, bond, lease or will.

INTER VIVOS - Latin for Abetween living people. Usually refers to a type of trust which is created and funded during the life of the person creating it (as opposed to a trust which is created and funded in a will.)

INTERIM BOND - A bond set by a police officer when a person is arrested for a misdemeanor offense without a warrant. A misdemeanor warrant may also have an interim bond endorsed on it by the issuing judge or magistrate. An interim bond allows the defendant to be released pending arraignment.

INTERIM ORDER - See TEMPORARY ORDER.

INTERLOCUTORY -

  1. Interlocutory order: An order that decides a legal or procedural point or matter during a lawsuit but is not a final decision of the case.
  2. Interlocutory appeal: The appeal of an interlocutory order prior to a final decision in the case. In general, appellate courts are reluctant to rule on interlocutory appeals.

INTERPLEADER - On occasion, two or more people claim the same thing from a third party, and the third-party does not know who has the better claim. If one claimant brings a law suit against the third party, the third party may bring all of the other claimant(s) into the suit in a process called "interpleading." This allows all of the claims to be resolved at once, in a single legal action, so that the third party is not exposed to multiple lawsuits related to the same set of facts.

INTERPRETER - Someone who converts spoken words from one language to another.

INTERROGATORIES - A set of written questions about the facts of a case posed by one party to the other as part of the discovery process. The answers to interrogatories must be given in writing and under oath in accordance with the Massachusetts Rules of Civil Procedure.

INTERSTATE - Involving two or more states.

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON THE PLACEMENT OF CHILDREN - An agreement among all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands that a state agency will not send a child to another state for foster care or other substitute care without the receiving state having an opportunity to investigate the placement and approve or disapprove of it. The sending agency might be the Department of Children and Families or the court or another state agency or entity.

INTERSTATE COMPACT ON JUVENILES - An agreement among all fifty states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Virgin Islands to cooperate with the return from one state to another of delinquent juveniles who have escaped from a detention facility or non-delinquent juveniles who have run away from home. The agreement also permits a delinquent juvenile within one state to be placed on probation or parole in another state if the juvenile intends to reside in that state.

INTERSTATE INCOME WITHHOLDING ORDER - An order entered to enforce child support obligations by withholding income earned in one state to satisfy a child support order of another state.

INTESTATE - Dying without having made a valid will. When someone dies intestate, distribution of the estate is determined by statute.

INTESTATE SUCCESSION - The statutory scheme for determining who inherits property when a person dies without having made a valid will.

INVENTORY - A list of the assets of a decedent or incapacitated person that are subject to management by a fiduciary.

IP - See INCAPACITATED PERSON.

IRRETRIEVABLE BREAKDOWN - A ground for divorce which does not assign fault to either party. If the parties agree on the grounds for divorce and have a written agreement on all issues (including child custody, child support, alimony and the division of assets), a divorce for irretrievable breakdown may be granted based on a joint petition for divorce pursuant to G.L. c. 208, '1A, often referred to as a "1A divorce." If the parties are unable to reach an agreement prior to filing for divorce, one person can file a complaint for divorce alleging irretrievable breakdown of the marriage, pursuant to G.L. c. 208, '1B, often referred to as a "1B divorce."

ISSUE -

  1. Of a person: All of the person's lineal descendants of all generations.
  2. In a pleading: A single, certain, and material point, which is in dispute and is raised in the pleadings of the parties to a lawsuit.

ISSUE PRECLUSION - See COLLATERAL ESTOPPEL.

J

JNOV - See JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT.

JAIL - See HOUSE OF CORRECTION.

JENKINS HEARING - A hearing which must be held within twenty-four hours after a person is arrested without a warrant to determine whether that person will be released on bail or personal recognizance. If the arrestee is to be held solely because of the arrest and not because of any other outstanding warrant or other case, there must be a finding of probable cause to hold him or her. The hearing is called a Jenkins hearing after the case in which the Supreme Judicial Court announced this requirement. Jenkins hearings can be conducted by a judge or by a clerk-magistrate or assistant clerk-magistrate.

JOB SEARCH ORDER - A court order requiring a party to look for employment and provide proof that he or she has in fact looked for employment as required, usually to the Probation Department.

JOINT CUSTODY - See SHARED CUSTODY.

JOINT PETITION FOR DIVORCE - A petition filed by spouses together who agree on all issues pertaining to a divorce, including the grounds for divorce, the division of marital property and all issues related to the children (if any).

JOINT PHYSICAL CUSTODY - See SHARED CUSTODY.

JUDGE - A public official who presides over cases in a court of law and decides cases except those decided by a jury. In Massachusetts, judges are appointed by the Governor. The titles "judge" and "justice" are often used interchangeably, though in Massachusetts the statutes use the term "justice."

JUDGMENT - The decision of a court disposing of a case, almost always issued in writing. The written judgment is sometimes accompanied by a written discussion of the facts and law supporting the court's decision.

JUDGMENT ABSOLUTE - The final judgment in a divorce, which enters automatically 90 days after the judgment nisiunless objections are filed.

JUDGMENT NISI - Latin for "unless." A judgment by the Probate and Family Court which dissolves a marriage and addresses custody and marital property issues "unless" it is challenged during the nisi period. The nisi period ends and the judgment becomes absolute, or final, after 90 days.

JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT - A judgment that reverses a jury's verdict, granted when a judge determines that the jury verdict has no reasonable support in fact or is contrary to the law. This is often referred to as a "JNOV" or "Judgment NOV."

JUDGMENT NOV - See JUDGMENT NOTWITHSTANDING THE VERDICT.

JUDICIAL CASE MANAGER - Formerly known as "assistant registers", judicial case managers are appointed by the First Justice in each Division of the Probate and Family Court. Their duties may vary from division to division but courtroom duties generally include calling cases, swearing in witnesses, keeping statistics, entering exhibits, checking files for trial readiness and keeping cases moving in an orderly fashion. Judicial case managers also review stipulations, uncontested domestic relations and probate matters and make recommendations regarding these matters to judges. They may also advise judges, attorneys and the general public on procedural matters.

JUDICIAL NOMINATING COMMISSION - A group appointed by the Governor to solicit, interview, evaluate and recommend candidates for the positions of judge and clerk-magistrate, often referred to as the "JNC".

JUDICIAL RECALL - A statutory process for the temporary assignment of judicial duties to a retired judge. Recalled judges are paid on a per diem basis for the performance of judicial duties.

JUDICIAL RESPONSE SYSTEM - A system operated by the Trial Court that makes judges available at all times on an emergency basis. All judges in the Commonwealth serve on Judicial Response, most for a week at a time approximately once nine months. They are available to the police by beeper and telephone at night, on weekends and on holidays. Judges on Judicial Response issue temporary restraining orders under c. 209A, make emergency mental health commitments, issue search warrants, and handle other emergency situations.

JURISDICTION - A court's authority to decide cases. Some examples of types of a court's jurisdiction are:

  1. Subject Matter Jurisdiction: The authority to hear a particular type of case. For example, the Probate and Family Court has jurisdiction over divorce cases, and the District Court and the Housing Court have jurisdiction over small claims cases.
  2. Personal Jurisdiction: The legal power of a court to render a judgment against a particular person or corporation in a proceeding, also called "in personam" jurisdiction.
  3. Geographic Jurisdiction: Similar to venue, but geographic jurisdiction cannot be waived. For example, by statute the divisions of the Housing Court Department have jurisdiction only over disputes arising in a particular geographic area.
  4. Appellate Jurisdiction: The authority to hear appeals of a particular type of case.

JURY - A group of people (usually six or twelve, depending on the court and the type of case) sworn to consider the evidence presented by the parties, determine issues of fact, and deliver a verdict in a trial. Types of juries include the trial jury, also known as a "petit jury," and the grand jury.

JURY CHARGE - See JURY INSTRUCTIONS.

JURY COMMISSIONER - The officer responsible for administering the jury system. The jury commissioner is appointed by the Supreme Judicial Court and is responsible for scheduling citizens of the Commonwealth to appear for jury duty in a particular court on a particular day and for prosecuting those who fail to appear when required to do so.

JURY INSTRUCTIONS - Instructions given by the judge to the jury regarding the law that applies to the case being heard by the jury. Also known as the "charge to the jury" or "jury charge."

JURY PANEL - The group of prospective jurors from which the trial jury is chosen, also known as a venire.

JURY TRIAL - A trial in which a jury determines issues of fact, applies the law to the facts, and delivers a verdict. See BENCH TRIAL.

JUSTICE - See JUDGE.

JUVENILE - A person under the age of eighteen.

JUVENILE COURT - A Department of the Trial Court that has general jurisdiction over delinquency proceedings; child requiring assistance (CRA) cases (formerly known as child in need of services (CHINS) cases); care and protection petitions (C&Ps); cases involving an adult contributing to the delinquency of a minor; adoptions; guardianships; termination of parental rights proceedings and youthful offender cases. The Juvenile Court Department was created by the Court Reorganization Act of 1992. There are eleven divisions in this Department, with forty-one judges sitting in more than forty locations.

JUVENILE DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS - See DELINQUENCY PROCEEDINGS.

K

KIN - Anyone related to a person (including a deceased person) by blood.

L

LAND COURT - A Department of the Trial Court and the only court of its type in the United States, other than Hawaii. The judges of the Land Court hear cases statewide involving, among other things, the registration of title and disputes about title to real estate; taxes on real estate; certain aspects of mortgage foreclosures; appeals from the decisions of local zoning and planning boards; and permits for the use or development of real estate.

LAND DAMAGE CASE - In the Superior Court, an action brought to determine the fair market value of real estate taken by eminent domain.

LANDLORD - The person or entity, usually the owner, that controls and rents real estate to others in return for the payment of money.

LAR - See LIMITED ASSISTANCE REPRESENTATION.

LAWSUIT - See CASE.

LAWYER - See ATTORNEY.

LAWYER FOR THE DAY - A volunteer lawyer available in some courts to speak to individual litigants at the courthouse and provide limited legal advice at no cost.

LAWYER REFERRAL SERVICE - An organization that provides individuals looking for legal assistance with the names of lawyers who might be able to represent them. Typically, a local, county or state bar association will be a source of lawyer referrals.

LEASE - A contract or agreement for the rental of real or personal property for a specific period of time. In the case of real estate, the lease gives rise to the relationship of landlord (the "lessor") and tenant (the "lessee").

LEGACY - Personal property left by will to another.

LEGAL CUSTODY - See JOINT CUSTODYCHILD CUSTODY.

LEGAL SERVICES PROGRAM - An organization that provides free legal assistance in certain types of cases to individuals meeting income eligibility requirements.

LEGATEE - A person who receives property under a will.

LEGISLATIVE ADDRESS - A procedure for removing state officers, including judges, from office. Unlike impeachment, legislative address does not require a finding of mal-administration or misconduct in office. However, legislative address requires the combined action of the House of Representatives, the Senate and the Governor with the advice and consent of the Governor’s Council.

LEGISLATIVE HISTORY - The background of a statute, including reports of committees of the Legislature and prior versions of the bill, which helps an appellate court determine what the Legislature intended.

LEGISLATIVE INTENT - The intent of the Legislature in enacting a statute. Courts may use an ambiguous statute's legislative history in order to ascertain what the Legislature was trying to accomplish when it enacted the statute.

LEGISLATURE - The branch of state government authorized to enact laws (statutes) and to appropriate funds for public purposes.

LESSEE - Someone who leases property.

LESSER INCLUDED OFFENSE - A crime the elements of which are also elements of another crime, but the other crime has one or more additional elements. Examples: assault and battery is a lesser included offense of indecent assault and battery; voluntary manslaughter is a lesser included offense of murder; possession of cocaine and possession of cocaine with intent to distribute are both lesser included offenses of trafficking in cocaine.

LESSOR - Someone who offers property to be leased.

LIABLE - Obligated by law; responsible for. In a civil case, a defendant is "liable" or "not liable" for the damages sought, rather than "guilty" or "not guilty" as in a criminal case.

LIBEL - Injury to a person's character or reputation in print, writing, pictures, or signs. See DEFAMATION, SLANDER.

LICENSE -

  1. Government permission to own or use something or to engage in an activity.
  2. Permission to use or copy copyrighted material.
  3. Permission to copy a patented object.

LICENSED PREMISES - Real estate on or in which someone is authorized to engage in regulated activity, e.g., to sell alcoholic beverages.

LIEN - A claim against property to secure a debt or other obligation. If the property involved is real estate, the lien may be recorded in the Registry of Deeds so that anyone checking the title to the property will know that someone has a claim to it. See ATTACHMENT.

LIMITED ASSISTANCE REPRESENTATION - Legal services provided under an agreement between the client and the lawyer that the lawyer will perform only specific tasks on the case, and the client will be responsible for other tasks.

LIMITED GUARDIAN - A guardian whose power over the incapacitated person has been limited by a court's order.

LINE-UP - A police procedure by which a suspect in a crime is exhibited with other similar-appearing people to determine whether a witness can identify the suspect as the perpetrator.

LIS PENDENS - Latin for "suit pending." When real estate is the subject of litigation, a "notice of lis pendens" may be filed with the Register of Deeds in the county where the property is located, warning people that the property is subject to litigation and that they may be bound by the court's judgment regarding the property.

LITIGANT - A party to a lawsuit.

LITIGATION - The process of resolving a dispute in court.

LONG ARM STATUTE - A law (G.L. c. 223A) that allows a court to assert personal jurisdiction over a person who is outside of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts under certain circumstances.

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