Monday, April 6, 2015

Legal Definitions - E


Eminent Domain – The government has the right to take your private property, upon two conditions. One: it must be for a public purpose. Two: you must be paid just compensation. Just compensation means the government must pay you the fair market value for your property, which is generally subject to dispute – the government wants to pay as little as possible and you want to be paid as much as possible. Public purpose can be very broadly defined. We all know about expanding the freeway, building a school or a park, etc. Those purposes are obviously public. But a recent US Supreme Court decision has allowed the taking of private property by the government and giving it to ANOTHER PRIVATE individual [in that case a company] for its own use, which theoretically helps “the public.” An example here is taking your home and giving it to Wal-Mart to build a new store, the “public purpose” being the increased employment and sales tax revenue. The government is not your friend.

Error – When the judge makes a decision which is not in your favor.

Eviction – Landlord definition: The process of removing a deadbeat tenant from real property. Can also be used by the new owner of a foreclosed property for removing the prior owner. Tenant definition [generally discussed from a new address]: Being unjustly forced to move out of your home by an unscrupulous slumlord who has violated your rights.

Evidence – Something which tends to prove or disprove a fact. There are several different types of evidence, and some pieces of evidence qualify under more than one of these headings:
Circumstantial/Indirect – Testimony, documents, items, etc that rely on an inference to connect it to a conclusion of fact. For example – Sally sees Bob entering the apartment, Sally hears screaming and a gunshot, Sally sees Bob running out of the apartment. This is circumstantial evidence of Bob committing the murder of John in the apartment. Sally didn't see Bob doing the crime, but the jury can make an inference that Bob did commit the crime.
Demonstrative – A representation of the actual person/place/thing. A photograph is demonstrative of the actual apartment. A map is demonstrative of the city. A drawing of the intersection is demonstrative of where the crash occurred.
Direct - Testimony, documents, things, etc that prove the existence of a fact. For example – the smoking gun used to commit the murder, the cockroach actually found in the apartment [hopefully dead, but not necessarily so], the actual rental agreement, the witness stating “I saw Bob shoot the gun” or “I saw Bob purchasing cockroaches and letting them go loose inside his apartment" [yes, I had this testimony in one of my cases.]
Documentary - Written documents, photographs, videos, sound recordings, and printed e-mails or web pages. Generally admitted at trial as exhibits. The offering party must establish a foundation that the evidence is what it is claimed to be [ie: not a forgery, etc]. For example – the written rental agreement stating the rent is $10,000 per month, copies of rent checks which have cleared the bank or conversely which were returned as NSF, the note demanding all of the money in the cash register, etc. If the document is being admitted into evidence not for the contents of the document, but to show the blood stain located on its front, that makes it real evidence, see below.
Expert Opinion - An opinion by a person who is established as having training and expertise in a specific field. For example – appraiser providing his opinion as to the value of the real property, real estate agent providing his opinion as to the rental value of the apartment, police officer providing his opinion as to how fast you were driving when you collided with the back of his police car.
Real/Physical – A material/tangible object that played a part in the situation giving rise to the lawsuit. The smoking gun, the rental agreement, the cockroach, the actual audio cassette tape wherein the tenant threatens to kill the landlord [yes, I had this evidence in one of my cases], the video feed from the security camera showing the tenants naked and having "a good time" in the public laundry room [yes, I've had this one also].
Testimonial – A written or oral assertion presented from the witness stand. Sally stating “I saw Bob shoot Sally” or "I stopped paying the rent because I lost my job" or "yes, you're right [sobs into hands], I did shoot Bob."


  1. I am liking your legal definitions. They are informative and wry. Have a great day.

    1. Thanks for stopping by! I checked out your blog also. Nouns. And you make them interesting. Great theme!

  2. Testimonial evidence wherein Sally says she saw Bob shoot her would, I think, be fairly convincing. Though I'm sure you know of some judges that would think otherwise. :)

    Another fun and interesting article, Dena! :)

    1. There's a whole line of experts who will testify for you [for a price] on the unreliability of eyewitness testimony. So it's sometimes not as convincing as you might think.