The initial document or pleading that is filed with the appropriate court to initiate a lawsuit and that specifies the grounds or allegations on which relief can be granted.
A document that directs a sheriff or another court-designated officer to notify the defendant named in the lawsuit that a lawsuit has been started and that the defendant has a specified amount of time to answer the compaint.
Service of process
The delivery of a summons and complaint to a defendant by an authorized person.
A pleading or document filed in court by a defendant responding to a plaintiff's complaint and explaining why the plaintiff should not win the case.
Hand delivery of a summons and complaint to a defendant.
Substituted service, or constructive service
Any method of notifying a defendant of a lawsuit other than personal delivery of a summons and complaint.
A particular court's power or authority to decide a lawsuit of a certain type or within a certain territory.
The locale in which the lawsuit may be brought.
Claims made in the complaint by the plaintiff, specifying what the plaintiff expects to prove to obtain a judgment against the defendant.
A lawsuit brought by the defendant against the plaintiff that arises out of the same occurrence that is the subject matter of the plaintiff's lawsuit.
Judgment awarded to a plaintiff because the defendant has failed to respond to the summons and complaint by the deadline.
The process used to reveal facts and preserve testimony in a lawsuit.
Request for production of documents
A request made by either the plaintiff or defendant in a lawsuit to the opposing side to provide all the documents and other tangible evidence it has in its possession relating to the facts of the case.
Specific written questions or requests submitted by one party in a lawsuit requiring the opposing party to answer in writing.
An oral examination of a witness about his or her activities or knowledge of the subject matter of a lawsuit.
Factual statements that, unless denied, bind the party at trial.
The principle that lower courts must follow precedents set by higher courts.
Motion to dismiss
A request that a court terminate an action because of settlement, voluntary withdrawal, or procedural defect.
Motion in limine
A pretrial request that certain evidence be excluded from the trial.
Motion for summary judgment
A pretrial request asking the court to enter a judgment when no material facts are in dispute.
The process of examining potential jurors about their possible interest in the matters presented at trial, their ability to decide the case fairly and without prejudice, and their overall competence to serve as jurors.
Burden of proof
In a trial, the duty of a party to prove that the facts it claims are true.
Preponderance of evidence
Evidence suporting the jury's decision that is of greater weight that the evidence against it.
A fee arrangement in which the attorney agrees to handle the case from start to finish for a specified amount.
A fee arrangement in which the attorney agrees to handle each phase of litigation for a specific fee.