Glossary

Security given for the release of a criminal defendant or witness from legal custody (usually in the form of money) to secure his/her appearance on the day and time appointed.

Refers to statutes and judicial proceedings involving persons or businesses that cannot pay their debts and seek the assistance of the court in getting a fresh start. Under the protection of the bankruptcy court, debtors may discharge their debts, perhaps by paying a portion of each debt. Bankruptcy judges preside over these proceedings.

Bar

Refers to attorneys as a group.

Trial without a jury in which a judge decides the facts. In a jury trial, the jury decides the facts. Defendants will occasionally waive the right to a jury trial and choose to have a bench trial.

Standard required to convict a criminal defendant of a crime. The prosecution must prove the guilt so that there is no reasonable doubt to the jury that the defendant is guilty.

A prior decision by a court that must be followed without a compelling reason or significantly different facts or issues. Courts are often bound by the decisions of appellate courts with authority to review their decisions. For example, district courts are bound by the decisions of the court of appeals that can review their cases, and all courts – both state and federal – are bound by the decisions of the Supreme Court of the United States.

A written statement submitted by the lawyer for each side in a case that explains to the judge(s) why they should decide the case (or a particular part of a case) in favor of that lawyer's client.