Glossary of Terms

Admonishment or Admonition 

Any authoritative advice or caution from the Court to the jury regarding their duty as jurors or the admissibility of evidence for consideration. 


The law authorizes the trial judge to excuse individual jurors from service for various reasons. If an attorney wants to have a particular juror excused from service, the attorney must use a “challenge” for that juror. There are two kinds of challenges: 

Peremptory Challenge: One of a party’s limited number of challenges that need not be supported by any reason, although a party may not use such a challenge in a way that discriminates against a protected minority. 

Challenge for Cause: A party’s challenge supported by a specified reason, such as bias or prejudice that would disqualify that potential juror. 

Civil Case/Civil Suit 

Cases that involve the law of civil or private rights, as opposed to criminal or administrative law; often involving matters of property and/or money. 


One or more lawyers who represent a client. 

Criminal Case 

A case in which the State prosecutes an individual for allegedly committing a crime. 


A person charged with a crime in a criminal case or the party being sued in a civil case. 

Degree of Proof 

A party’s duty to introduce enough evidence on an issue to have the issue decided by the fact-finder (jury, in many cases).


The act of carefully considering issues and options before making a decision or taking some action.

Directed Verdict

A judgment entered on the order of a trial judge who takes over the fact-finding role of the jury because the evidence is so compelling that only one decision can reasonably follow.


Something (including testimony, documents and tangible objects) that tends to prove or disprove the existence of an alleged fact.


A document, record, or other tangible object formally introduced as evidence in court.


A serious crime usually punishable by imprisonment for more than one year. Examples include murder, rape, arson and burglary.


The juror who chairs the jury during deliberations and speaks for the jury in court by announcing the verdict.

Grand Jury

A panel of citizens selected that determines whether a criminal indictment will be issued.


Unbiased, disinterested.


A direction or guideline that a judge gives a jury concerning the law of the case.

Jury Pool

The group of potential qualified jurors appearing for assignment to jury panels.

Jury Panel

A panel of citizens who have been selected for jury duty and from whom the jurors are to be chosen in a particular case.

Jury Summons

A notice requiring a person to appear in court as a potential juror.


A party to a lawsuit.


The act or an instance of a person deliberately making material false or misleading statements while under oath.


The individual who sues in a civil case.


An accused person’s formal response of “guilty,” “not guilty,” or “no contest” to a criminal charge. A “no contest” plea means that while not admitting guilt, the defendant will not dispute the charge.

Preponderance of the Evidence

The greater weight of the evidence; superior evidentiary weight that, though not sufficient to free the mind wholly from all reasonable doubt, is still sufficient to incline a fair and impartial mind to one side of the issue rather than the other. This is the burden of proof in a civil trial.


Custodial isolation of a trial jury to prevent tampering or exposure to publicity.

Note: sequestered juries stay in hotels, and are not allowed outside contact during the course of the trial. Sequestered juries are rare in Jackson County


An official order commanding a person to appear before a court.


Evidence that a witness under oath or affirmation gives at trial or in an affidavit or deposition.


A jury’s finding or decision on the factual issues of a case.

Voir Dire

A preliminary examination of a potential juror by a judge or lawyer to decide whether the individual is qualified and suitable to serve on a jury.


A person who can give a first-hand account of something seen, heard, or experienced.