Legal Terms


Case: A lawsuit or action in a court. 

Certify: To testify in writing; to make known or establish as a fact. 

Charge: Formal accusation of a crime. 

Complaint: A legal document that tells the court what you want, and is served with a summons on the defendant to begin the case. 

Contempt of Court: A finding that someone disobeyed a court order. Can also  mean disrupting court, for example, by being loud or disrespectful in court. 

Continuance: The adjournment or postponement of a court case to another day. 

Continuance Date: Date on which the case will next be heard in court. 

Contract: A legally enforceable agreement between two or more persons or parties. 

Costs: Expenses in prosecuting or defending a case in court. Usually does not include attorney’s fees. 

Count: The different parts of a complaint, which could each be a basis or grounds for the lawsuit. 

Counter Claim: A claim by the defendant in a civil action that the defendant is entitled to damages or other relief from the plaintiff. 

Court-Appointed Attorney: An attorney who is asked by the court (judge) to either represent a party to the case, or to serve in some other capacity that the case requires. 

Court Clerk: The person who maintains the official court record of your case. The court clerks’ office receives all court papers and assigns hearing dates. 

Court Interpreter: The person who translates court hearings from English to another language. Provided at state expense in all criminal cases and in cases enforcing child support orders, if requested. No interpreter is available for divorce or any other civil case. 

Court Monitor: The person who prepares a written record of the court hearing for a fee, if requested, from audiotapes made during the hearing. 

Court Reporter: The person who records everything said during the court hearing on a stenograph machine and prepares a written record for a fee, if requested. 

Court Services Officer: A person who assists the judge and oversees cases as they go through the court.