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Saturday, April 4, 2015
Legal Definitions - D
A to Z Blogging Challenge. My topic is LEGAL DEFINITIONS EXPLAINED IN PLAIN [AND HOPEFULLY HUMOROUS] ENGLISH.
Day in Court – A demand, usually by a Defendant [in an eviction case]. “I want my day in court!” Most Defendants don't realize that to have their day in court, they need to (1) file an Answer, (2) actually show up for their trial, and (3) not lose a dispositive motion [see below]. Plaintiffs LOVE dispositive motions because most of the time, they result in a judgment in favor of the Plaintiff without actually having a trial, thereby depriving Defendants of their day in court. Mwahahahaha.
Defendant – In my practice, the Defendant is always either a tenant or a prior owner of a foreclosed property. Most tenants believe my client [the Plaintiff/landlord] is a slumlord. Most prior owners believe my client [the Plaintiff/new owner] stole the property out from under them and/or is just a “money grubbing investor.” Sometimes, these Defendants are correct, but most of the time I still get to evict them.
Demurrer – a motion filed by a Defendant which basically states “even if everything in the Plaintiff's Complaint is true, they still won't win the case.” Most Defendants know their Demurrers won't be granted by the court, but they file a Demurrer simply to get more time to live in the property. Unfortunately for my clients, this is usually true. Unfortunately for the Defendants, it usually results in a larger money judgment to pay for that extra time. No, Gracie, you can't live in someone else's property for free.
Direct Examination – When an attorney questions his/her own witnesses. Altho cross-examination [questioning your opponent's witnesses] looks more flashy on TV, especially if done by Perry Mason, direct examination is generally the hardest part of the trial, because your own witnesses are the ones who will generally prove your case. Sometimes, like what happened in my hotly-contested bench trial [non-jury] last week, an attorney [Defendant's counsel] did NOT prove his case with his witnesses, because he failed to even address his most important defenses. Therefore, my closing argument was a LOT of fun. I gleefully-but-with-great-restraint pointed out everything defense counsel forgot to bring up, and concluded “therefore, Your Honor, since we heard no evidence on those issues, Plaintiff is entitled to judgment.” Which was true. Defendant fired his attorney in the hallway after the trial. Ouch for him. My client had a much better afternoon – she went to a bar for a celebratory drink.
Discovery – In a civil lawsuit, each side can ask the other side for information prior to trial. Many times, the answers to the questions, and the documents that are produced, destroy the case for the party who is answering/producing. This is fun when you are the one who sent out the discovery, and not fun when you're the one responding to the discovery.
Dispositive Motion – A motion which “disposes” of the case, which means the case is resolved in favor of one of the parties without going to trial. From Plaintiff's perspective, the best part about these motions is they deprive Defendants of their day in court, see above. Mwahahahaha, rubs hands together in gleeful abandon.