All attorneys that practice law have had extensive schooling and need to an array of legal terms to be effective while in court. It is obvious that any attorneys that have stepped into a law school will be familiar with these common terms, but we all aren’t attorneys. For the general public, some legal terminology can be a bit confusing and you will not be able to follow what is going on in the courtroom if you do not have some exposure to the commonly used phrases. Here are some of the terms that are imperative for everyone to know, no matter your profession. Attorneys may be the ones to use these frequently, but it will undoubtedly be useful information whether you step into a courtroom yourself one day or you just want to watch a legal television program.
This is used by attorneys during witness testimony or when evidence is submitted to the court. Objections may be raised if a litigator is badgering the witness, trying to lead the witness to state something that would incriminate them, or any other situation that may warrant it. After an objection is raised, the judge gets to make a ruling on whether the objection is ‘overruled’ or ‘sustained’. If the judge overrules the objection, then everything continues normally. If the judge says ‘sustained’, the other lawyer may have to stop their line of questioning or rephrase a question they asked the witness previously. This term is most effective when yelled angrily.
This is a term that attorneys must be familiar with. A docket is basically a court calendar that details which hearings and trials will be held at a particular court. Attorneys must use a docket for reference to see when they will be heading into the courtroom.
3. Court Recess
If a lawyer has a legitimate reason, they may ask for a short recess during a trial. During this time, attorneys can organize their documents or reassess their strategies if they choose to do so. A recess may also be called for by a judge or asked for by a lawyer if a plaintiff or defendant is emotionally or physically unable to continue. In these cases, the recesses may be for longer periods, and at times the trial may be continued at a different date.
4. Motion in Limine
This is used by attorneys when they want the court to decide whether a certain piece of evidence is admissible to state in front of a jury. If the judge decides that the evidence is not admissible, the evidence may not be presented to the jury. If this is decided after the evidence has already been presented, the judge will tell the jury to disregard the evidence.
You might not be able to represent somebody in the courtroom with just these terms, but you will at least be able to follow an episode of Law and Order.