Pleas (Civil Law):

     This page is continued from Civil Law Self-Help:



1. At common law, the defendant’s responsive pleading in a civil action.  Cf. DECLARATION (7).

3. A factual allegation offered in a case; a pleading.  See DEMURRER; PLEADING

plea side – The civil side or department of a court as r distinguished from the criminal department. [2]

anomalous plea (1851) An equitable plea in which a party states new facts and negates some of the opponent’s stated facts.  *  Partly confession and avoidance and partly traverse, the plea is appropriate when the plaintiff, in the bill, has anticipated the plea, and the defendant then traverses the anticipatory matters. — aka plea not pure.  Cf. pure plea.

common plea (17c) 1. A common-law plea in a civil action as opposed to a criminal prosecution. — aka common cause; common suit2. Hist. A plea made by a commoner.

     “By ‘common pleas’ Magna Carta meant no more than ordinary pleas between commoners.” Alan Harding, A Social History of English Law 51 (1966).

dilatory plea (16c) A plea that does not challenge the merits of a case but that seeks to delay or defeat the action on procedural grounds.

“Dilatory pleas are those which do not answer the general right of the plaintiff, either by denial or in confession and avoidance, but assert matter tending to defeat the particular action by resisting the plaintiff’s present right of recovery. They may be divided into two main classes: (1) Pleas to the jurisdiction and venue. (2) Pleas in abatement. A minor class, sometimes recognized, is pleas in suspension of the action.” Benjamin J. Shipman, Handbook of CommonLaw Pleading § 220, at 382 (Henry Winthrop Ballantine ed., 3d ed. 1923).

double plea (16c) A plea consisting in two or more distinct grounds of complaint or defense for the same issue.  Cf. alternative pleading under PLEADING (2); DUPLICITY (3).

equivocal plea – A plea of guilty qualified by terms that, if true, indicate the defendant is in fact not guilty, or may not understand the effects of the plea, or is not acting voluntarily.  *  A refusal to admit actual guilt does not make a plea equivocal.

general plea See general denial under DENIAL (3).

issuable plea (17c) A plea on the merits presenting a cognizable complaint to the court.  Cf. issuable defense under DEFENSE (1).

jurisdictional plea (1900) A plea asserting that the court lacks jurisdiction either over the defendant or over the subject matter of the case. — aka plea to the jurisdiction.

negative plea (16c) A plea that traverses some material fact or facts stated in the bill. — aka plea to the action.

nonissuable plea (1841) A plea on which a court ruling will not decide the case on the merits, such as a plea in abatement.

peremptory plea (18c) A plea that responds to the merits of the plaintiff’s claim or prosecutor’s charge; PLEA IN BAR.  *  At common law, the peremptory pleas set forth special reasons why a trial could not proceed. They were the plea of autrefois acquit, the plea of autrefois convict, the plea of autrefois attaint, and the plea of pardon. See AUTREFOIS; PLEA OF PARDON.

> plea in abatement. (17c) A plea that objects to the place, time, or method of asserting the plaintiff’s claim but does not dispute the claim’s merits. o A defendant who successfully asserts a plea in abatement leaves the claim open for continuation in the current action or reassertion in a later action if the defect is cured. -Also termed abater. ‘

> plea in bar. See PLEA IN BAR. [1]

1. Under common law pleading, a dilatory plea by the defendant designed to defeat the plaintiff’s action absolutely and permanently.  This plea is now made by motion under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and under most states’ rules of civil procedure.
Compare plea in abatement. [3]

> plea in confession and avoidance. See CONFESSION AND AVOIDANCE.

> plea in discharge. (18c) A plea that the defendant has previously satisfied and discharged the plaintiff’ 3 claim.

> plea in equity. (17c) A special defense relying on one or more reasons why the suit should be dismissed, delayed, or barred. 0 The various kinds are (l) pleas to the jurisdiction, (2) pleas to the person, (3) pleas to the form of the bill, and (4) pleas in bar of the bill. Pleas in equity enerally fall into two classes: pure pleas and anoma

ous pleas. > plea in error. See SPECIAL PLEA IN ERROR.

r plea in estoppel. (1831) Common-law pleading. A plea that neither confesses nor avoids but rather pleads a previous inconsistent act, allegation, or denial on the part of the adverse party to preclude that party from maintaining an action or defense.

> plea in reconvention. (1826) Civil law. A plea that sets up a new matter, not as a defense, but as a cross-complaint, setoif, or counterclaim.

> plea in suspension. (1875) A plea that shows some ground for not proceeding in the suit at the present time and prays that the proceedings be stayed until that ground is removed, such as a party’s being a minor or the plaintiff’ 3 being an alien enemy.

_ p‘-‘ ‘A‘ ‘n-‘A 0AA “AAAmntA‘lAI“

plea not pure. See anomalous plea.

, plea of confession and avoidance. See CONFESSION AND AVOIDANCE.

> plea of privilege. (17c) A plea that raises an objection to the venue of an action. See CHANGE OF VENUE.

D plea of release. (18c) A plea that admits the claim but sets forth a written discharge executed by a party authorized to release the claim. See RELEASE (2).

> plea puis darrein continuance (pwis dar-ayn kantin-yoo-ants). [Law French “plea since the last continuance”] (18c) A plea that alleges new defensive matter that

has arisen during a continuance of the case and that did not exist at the time of the defendant’s last pleading.

p plea to further maintenance to the action. (1830) Hist. A defensive plea asserting that events occurring after the commencement of the action necessitate its dismissal. O The plea is obsolete because of the pleading

requirements in federal and state rules of civil procedure.

> plea to the action. See negative plea.

b plea to the declaration. (1820) A plea in abatement that objects to the declaration and applies immediately to it. –Also termed plea to the count.

5 plea to the jurisdiction. See jurisdictional plea.

b plea to the person of the defendant. (1872) A plea in abatement alleging that the defendant has a legal dis~ ability to be sued.

v plea to the person of the plaintiff. (1821) A plea in abatement alleging that the plaintiff has a legal disabil~ ity to sue.

> plea to the writ. (17c) A plea in abatement that objects to the writ (summons) and applies (1) to the form of the writ for a matter either apparent on the writ’s face or outside the writ, or (2) to the way in which the writ was executed or, acted on.

b pure plea. (18c) An equitable plea that affirmatively alleges new matters that are outside the bill. 0 If proved, the effect is to end the controversy by dismissing, delaying, or barring the suit. A pure plea must track the allegations of the bill, not evade it or mistake its purpose. Originally, this was the only plea known in equity. –‘ Also termed a’girmative plea. Cf. anomalous


> rolled-up plea. (1929) Defamation. A defendant’s plea claiming that the statements complained of are factual and that, to the extent that they consist of comment, they are fair comment on a matter of public interest. See PAIR COMMENT.

> special plea. (16c) A plea alleging one or more new facts rather than merely disputing the legal grounds of the action or charge. 0 All pleas other than general issues are special pleas. See general issue under ISSUE (1).

> verified plea. (1831) A plea that is proved true or legitiu mate by supporting evidence. [1]

 plea in abatement – A plea in a civil action bringing to the attention of the court some fact or circumstance, not disclosed on the face of the record, which will defeat the particular action without absolutely and forever precluding or excluding right of recovery in the plaintiff. 41 Am J1st Pl § 124. [2]

1. Under common law pleading, a dilatory plea bringing to the court’s attention some fact that defeats the plaintiff’s action without destroying her cause of action.  This plea is now made by motion under the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and under most states’ rules of civil procedure.
See abatement of action. Compare plea in bar. [3]

plea in bar – A pleading interposed by the defendant in an action as a complete defense, designed to defeat the action for all time. 41 Am J1st Pl § 115

plea in confession and avoidance – A plea which admits the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff, to the extent at least of giving color to the matter, and sets up other matter in avoidance of the same. 41 Am J1st Pl § 158. [2]

1. Under common law pleading, a plea that admits the cause of action alleged by the plaintiff but avers some additional circumstance relieving the defendant of any obligation to the plaintiff. This plea has been abolished by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure and by most states’ rules of civil procedure.
See pleadings. [3]

plea in discharge – A form of plea in confession and avoidance in which the defendant admits the existence at one time of a cause of action but alleges that, before the action, the defendant satisfied and discharged plaintiff’s claim by payment. Nichols v Cecil, 106 Tenn 455, 61 SW 768.

plea of another action pending – A form of plea in abatement interposing the objection that a former action between the same parties for the same cause is still pending. 1 Am J2d Abat & R § 38.

plea of limitations – A pleading which invokes the protection of the statute of limitations in a civil case. 34 Am J1st Lim Ac § 428.

plea of non damnificatus – Literally, a plea of not injured.  A proper pleading by the defendant in an action on a covenant to indemnify and save harmless. 27 Am J1st Indem § 33

A plea interposed in an action of debt on a bond, which is equivalent to a plea setting up the defendant’s fulfillment of his obligation. State Bank v Chetwood, 8 NJL 1, 25.

plea of reconvention – A pleading interposing a counterclaim in the answer. McLeod v Bertschy, 33 Wis )f 176. [2]


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is compiled in accordance with Fair Use.

[1]: Black’s Law Dictionary Deluxe Tenth Edition by Henry Campbell Black & Editor in Chief Bryan A. Garner. ISBN: 978-0-314-62130-6

[2]: Ballantine’s Law Dictionary with Pronunciations
Third Edition
 by James A. Ballantine (James Arthur 1871-1949).  Edited by William S. Anderson.  © 1969 by THE LAWYER’S CO-OPERATIVE PUBLISHING COMPANY.  Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 68-30931

[3]:  Ballantine’s Law Dictionary Legal Assistant Edition
by Jack Ballantine 
(James Arthur 1871-1949).  Doctored by Jack G. Handler, J.D. © 1994 Delmar by Thomson Learning.  ISBN 0-8273-4874-6.


Back to Criminal Law Self-Help

Home Page

Like this website?

Please Support Our Fundraiser

or donate via PayPal:


Disclaimer: Wild Willpower does not condone the actions of Maximilian Robespierre, however the above quote is excellent!

This website is being broadcast for First Amendment purposes courtesy of

Question(s)?  Suggestion(s)?
We look forward to hearing from you!