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Friday, April 17, 2015
Legal Definitions -O
A to Z Blogging Challenge. My topic is LEGAL DEFINITIONS EXPLAINED IN PLAIN [AND HOPEFULLY HUMOROUS] ENGLISH.
Objection – If one party has a LEGAL reason why a piece of evidence, usually testimony, should NOT be heard by the jury, that party usually objects. The key term here is LEGAL reason. You can't object just because you know the answer to that question will make you look bad.
Occupant – A person residing in or using real estate. An occupant can be the owner, a rent-paying tenant [whether residential or commercial], a deadbeat brother, a daughter sponging off her parents along with her deadbeat boyfriend, or a squatter.
Opening statement – A summary of the case, given by the attorneys usually to the jury [altho sometimes to the judge in a bench trial if the case isn't a standard eviction case], letting the jury know what to expect. For example, (1) “ladies and gentlemen, today you'll learn that Colonel Mustard killed the victim in the Conservatory with the Candlestick” or (2) “ladies and gentlemen, today you'll learn that the defendant here [gesture toward the tenant] ran a meth lab from his apartment and the resulting explosion displaced an entire city block.” That last opening statement was one I didn't need to give, because the explosion also displaced the tenant to the point that his new residence was a hole six feet deep in another city.
Opinion – A decision, usually by the Court of Appeal or Supreme Court following an appeal of the trial court/jury decision, which takes the facts as determined by the trial court/jury and applies the law to those facts. For example, (1) “we are of the opinion that separate facilities are of necessity not equal” and (2) “we are of the opinion that a criminal defendant must be informed of his rights, so that he may intelligently invoke them.” In CA, an opinion may be published or unpublished. If the opinion is published, it can be cited in future cases and becomes a statement of the law. If the opinion is unpublished, it applies to that specific case only, and cannot be cited as law in a future case. Generally, an unpublished opinion comes from a case where "hard cases make bad law." The judge felt sorry for one of the parties, so ruled in that party's favor despite the law, but does not want to establish precedent in using the law in that manner for future cases.
Oral contract – A contract which is NOT in writing. In most cases the standard legal adage applies – if it's not in writing, it doesn't exist. However, if a tenant pays rent and the landlord accepts the rent, then an oral contract exists for the rental of the property occupied by the tenant, for the proffered amount of rent.