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Why Black’s Law Dictionary?

Why Ballantine’s Law Dictionary?

     Below are some essential terms to help you wrap your head around some basic concepts before we begin.  Don’t worry about memorizing anything!  The definitions are linked throughout the site.  Clicking on any term will lead to the full definition as well as (usually) definitions for related terms.

i. Various Types of Parties:

Party – a natural person or artificial person interested in the outcome of litigation, who may or may not be a party of record, &/or a person who has engaged in a transaction.

  • Natural Person – a human being.
  • Artificial Person – has rights but not privileges or immunities, and may be held liable. (i.e. – corporations, governmental bodies). — aka fictitious person; juristic person; juridical person; legal person; moral person.

Litigant – the plaintiff or defendant in a court action.

Various Types of Parties on the Offense:

Plaintiff – a party who brings a civil suit in a court of law.

Complainant – a person who files a formal accusation of a crime or a plaintiff in a civil suit (court of equity).

Petitioner – a party who presents a petition to a court or other official body, especially when seeking relief.

Appellant – a party who appeals a lower court’s decision, usually seeking reversal of that decision.

Various Types of Parties on the Defense:

Defendant – a person sued in a civil proceeding or accused in a criminal proceeding.

Respondant – the party against whom an appeal is taken to a higher court; the appellee or the defendant in a suit in equity.

Third-Party Defendant – a party brought into a lawsuit by the original defendant.

Appellee – a party against whom an appeal is taken from a lower court to a higher court & whose role is to respond to that appeal.

ii. Essential Terminology Pertaining to Process:

  • Process
  • Procedure
  • Proceeding
  • Economic Substantive Due Process
  • Procedural Due Process
  • Substantive Due Process
  • Due Process Clause
  • Due-Process Rights

iii. Jurisdiction:

Jurisdiction – a government’s power to exercise authority over all persons and things within its territory, including a court’s power to decide a case or issue a decree.

  • Personal Jurisdiction – a court’s power to bring a person into its adjudicative process; jurisdiction over a defendant’s personal rights rather than merely over property interests.
  • Subject-Matter Jurisdiction – jurisdiction over the nature of the case (the material which is the subject of a lawsuit) and the type of relief sought 
  • Territorial Jurisdiction – jurisdiction over cases arising in or involving persons residing within a defined territory.
  • in rem Jurisdiction – a legal action brought against property (i.e. action to quiet title; civil forfeiture) as opposed to an action brought against the person.
  • Federal-Question Jurisdiction – the exercise of federal-court power over claims arising under the U.S. Constitution, an act of Congress, or a treaty.

Pleadings and related terms:

  • Complaint
  • Petition
  • Answer
  • Replication
  • Joinder
  • Joinder in Demurrer
  • Demurrer
  • Traverse
  • Plea in Bar
  • Similiter
  • Rejoinder
  • Surrejoinder
  • Rebutter
  • Surrebutter
  • Estoppel

Trust and related terms:

  • Fiduciary Relationship
  • Fiduciary
  • Guardian
  • Ward
  • Beneficiary
  • Trustee

Injury – & related terms:

  • Personal Injury
  • Bodily Injury
  • Unjustifiable
  • Wrongful Eviction Action
  • Unlawful Detainer
  • False Arrest
  • Unlawful Arrest

Color of Law & related terms:

  • Color
  • Color of Title

Statute of Limitations and related terms:

  • Discovery Rule
  • Limitation
  • Laches
  • Statute of Repose

Special thanks to Faerie Forests on Pinterest for posting the above art piece we’re utilizing in accordance with Fair Use.


Disclaimer: All material throughout this website is pertinent to people everywhere, and is being utilized in accordance with Fair Use.

     All short descriptions of legal terms found throughout this page were compiled using


Back to Intro to U.S. Law

Legal Precepts Adopted (from Europe) into The U.S. Constitution

§ § of Law Embedded into the Constitution Pursuant to the American Revolution

Indian Country Law

Federal Rules of Procedure

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