Legal Vocabulary Handout

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Vocabulary
* Plaintiff: party asking the court for relief (the one who brings the lawsuit) * Defendant: party against whom a lawsuit is brought (the one defending the lawsuit) * Appellant: party asking Court of Appeals for relief (the party bringing the appeal), always the party who lost at the district court level * Appellee: party responding to the appellant’s appeal, always the party who won at the district court level * Petitioner: party asking the Supreme Court for relief, always party who lost at appellate level * Respondent: party responding to petitioner’s request for relief * Amici Curiae: “Friends of the Court,” third parties that submit briefs in support of one side or another, often experts in some type of relevant field. Usually at the discretion of the court. * Intervenor: a third party with a direct interest in the outcome of the lawsuit may intervene, becoming a litigant himself, and also submit briefs and present argument. Often at the discretion of the court (although there are some situation where a third party has the right to intervene). * De novo: literally “from the beginning”; when an appellate court looks at an issue from the beginning, examining issues that the lower court has already decided. Often appellate courts are bound by the lower court’s findings of fact, but will examine the legal issues de novo * Holding: Court’s judgment, decision on question of law that is squarely before the Court, the answer to “question presented” * Dicta: everything outside of the holding

* Majority opinion: presents the holding of the Court
* Concurring opinion(s): agrees with the holding of the Court, but for different reasons * Dissenting opinion: disagrees with Court’s holding * Affirm: Court decides that the appellate court’s ruling was correct, and that ruling is upheld (petitioner loses on legal issues presented) * Sustain: Synonym...
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