Legal Terms Refresher For Test Takers

As I said in the medical refresher, there are times we as reporters must take written knowledge tests to show that we know a little about what we are reporting. This differentiates us from zombies!

Anyway, I was looking for something helpful for the June 29 test and the legal terminology likely to be on there. I learned that New York State’s Unified Court System publishes a very expansive legal glossary. You do not need to memorize this whole glossary, but it might be worthwhile to familiarize yourself with some terms that may very well appear on an employment test or RPR. Save up these links and make sure you take a glance at some of these before your test in June! Just note that because it’s a New York resource some things may be specific to New York.

Again, veterans may laugh, but there are certainly new reporters out there who won’t know at least one of the things on that glossary. Today isn’t about the veterans, it’s about people getting their dream job or cert!

From my past experiences in testing in this country, some things that may come up:

Voir dire – Means to speak the truth. Think jury selection. Sometimes voir dire examination is also used to question the authenticity of a document.

Venue – where a case can be heard.

Vacate – to cancel or end a court order.

Pro se – someone representing themselves

Quid pro quo – Latin, something for something.

Subpoena duces tecum – court order for someone to bring documents or evidence to court. Think of duces as documents. They’re takin’ ’em documents.

Subpoena ad testificandum – court order for someone to testify.

Trustee – Person who controls a trust or money, usually they’re doing this for a beneficiary, someone receiving that money or the benefits of the trust.

Direct examination is the questioning of a witness by the party that’s putting on the witness. This type of examination is typically always first.

Cross examination is the questioning of a witness by the party or parties not putting on the witness. This type of examination typically always comes after direct examination. Cross is not necessarily limited to the scope of direct. Scope generally means what the questioning was about.

Redirect examination is questioning of a witness by the party putting on the witness after cross examination. Redirect is often limited to the scope of cross. Meaning if the cross examination is one question about the witness’s shoes, the redirect probably can’t have any questions not somewhat related to the shoes.

Recross examination is questioning of a witness by the party or parties not putting on the witness after redirect examination. The recross is often limited to the scope of the redirect.

Third party – a party that is not the plaintiff or defendant in the original action.

Testimony is statements made by witnesses under oath.

Testate is having a will. Intestate is not having a will.

Surety bond – think bail bond.

Suppress – preventing something from being seen or heard. Think suppression hearing to get evidence thrown out.

Summons – notice to come to court. Often lawsuits start with a summons and complaint. The complaint is the document that initiated the lawsuit and presents the allegations.

Summation – closing arguments by lawyers at the end of a trial.

Sua sponte – of one’s own accord. Sometimes when something must be lawfully done the court will act sua sponte, meaning neither party made a motion for an action but the court is taking the action anyway.

Stipulation – agreement between or among parties.

Statute of limitations – time period by which a case must be started. For example, in most personal injury cases the statute of limitations in New York is three years. The statute of limitations for defamation is one year. Succinctly, people that wish to bring a case for those actions have to bring them within that time frame. The clock starts ticking from when the event occurs.

That’s all for now! I may add to this when I have more time to go through the glossary.

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