parties – Plaintiffs and defendants (petitioners and respondents) to lawsuits, also known as appellants and appellees in appeals, and their lawyers.
plaintiff – The person who files the complaint in a civil lawsuit.
pleadings – Written statements of the parties in a civil case of their positions. In federal courts, the principal pleadings are the complaint and the answer.
precedent – A court decision in an earlier case with facts and law similar to a dispute currently before a court. Precedent will ordinarily govern the decision of a later similar case, unless a party can show that it was wrongly decided or that it differed in some significant way. Some precedent is binding, meaning that it must be followed. Other precedents need not be followed by the court but can be considered influential.
procedure – The rules for the conduct of a lawsuit; there are rules of civil, criminal, evidence, bankruptcy, and appellate procedure.
probable cause – An amount of suspicion leading one to believe certain facts are probably true. The Fourth Amendment requires probable cause for the issuance of an arrest or search warrant.
pro se – A Latin term meaning “on one’s own behalf”; in courts, it refers to persons who present their own cases without lawyers.
prosecute – To charge someone with a crime. A prosecutor tries a criminal case on behalf of the government.